Kosha Dillz feature
Feature by Matthue Roth
Kosha Dillz has a rock on his shoulder the size of Gibraltar. The New York-based M.C. lets loose his political views and gets out his anger about suicide bombers, the Israeli land-for-peace negotiations, U.S.-led oil wars and how young American Jews are trapped in the shadow of the Holocaust…and that, after all, is just the first song.
It’s this atmosphere which is pervasive on Dillz’ first two self-produced E.P.s, *** and **: political verses infused with a personal fury á la Rage Against the Machine, coupled with couplets that allude to both darkly poetic MCs like Aesop Rock and self-aware white rappers like M.C. Paul Barman who, like Dillz, infuses a worldview of dynamic knowledge about hip-hop culture while articulating a sense of loss and insufficiency about participating in their own Jewish culture.
But, while Barman uses his Jewishness to talk about gold condoms and Chanukah gelt, Dillz spits lines like “It’s hard for a Jewish thug/put my heart in a bowl of soup/just to brew love.” If anything, Dillz’ affectations are more Aesop Rock than 2 Live Jews (no disrespect to Easy Irving, y’all)—we really see his quest in trying to find the poetry in his Judaism.
That’s not saying that Dillz is all pretty lyrics. At the drop of a dime he’ll let loose some massively beautiful poetic algorithm, like “Light travels at 86,000 miles a second/it’s 93 million miles till the sun/So when the sun explodes it’s 18 minutes till when the darkness comes from,” and then talk about himself beating the darkness and coming to the aid of Israel, saving the country from Ariel Sharon. It’s refreshing to hear such a singularly pro-Israel, pro-Jewish voice, but it also feels a little bit pandering. Most of Dillz’ audience won’t mind at all, but it’s there. He also has a bit of the typical rapper’s egotistical braggadocio, or maybe the memoirist’s kind: On “It’s Not What It Used To Be,” Dillz reminisces about growing up in Jersey, birthday parties and riding down the turnpike. He gives tremendously vivid images, and the whole song soothes with an emotional poignancy, but at the end, we aren’t really sure why—except that it’s a damn good song.
Dillz’ beats are smooth, simple and catchy, made by production wizard Mr. Green. They have the flow of old Prince Paul beats, but with a simple, smooth jazziness that coats Dillz’ low-key flow like candy.
Kosha Dillz might not be the Jewish hip-hop messiah that he, at times, seems to want to become. But he’s got an impressive array of talent, and he isn’t afraid to use it.