Album Review: Sagol 59, “Make Room”
Sagol 59‘s recent American release album, “Make Room” is a release I am really excited about. Produced by one of Israel’s most talented and Hadag Nachash very young prodigy , Little Johnny, or “Johnny Hakatan”, the album definitely has the beats that start you movin’ and groovin’ the way we all did to the previous Hadag Nachash releases. Born Khen Rotem, this Jerusalem native is definitely making a hip hop mark.
His attitude is strong and the beats are what you expect from Israeli hip hop. Some songs mix some of the traditional Middle Eastern beats with some hip hop, which I am a complete sucker for. His lyrics take a stand and he really does attempt to “make room” for peace in the Middle East in this album. In the past as well, Sagol’s attention to making peace through hip hop music has been a really important aspect to his career. He’s collaborated with Palestinian artist Tamar Nafar and Subliminal’s Kobi Shimoni, not to mention a plethora of other important artists in the Jewish and Israeli music scene.
I heard about this guy awhile ago, but it wasn’t until I heard his song “Lech Kadima” on JDub’s Rooftop Roots II album that I really started paying attention. I know, I’m late on my game! According to Jdub, he’s considered the “Godfather of Israeli Hip Hop”. Jdub says, “Being one of the first MCs on the Israeli hip hop scene and a respected music journalist for Israeli publications such as Kol Haair, Dofeck Music Magazine and Haair, Sagol has rightfully claimed his place as Israel’s preeminent hip-hop authority. His 2000 debut album, The Blue Period, chronicles his struggle towards becoming the revered lyricist he is today.” (Jdubrecords.org)
The album is fun and full of collaborations. In one song, there is a feature of Sagol vs. famous Israeli DJ, DJ Alarm. Although he’s been in the scene awhile, he definitely takes influences from some of his fellow Israeli artists. The album sounds like a mix of past Hadag Nachash and Subliminal albums. That’s not to say it isn’t making a stand on its own. Musically and lyrically, I was very impressed. What I like most about this album, which it is much different from the type of dance/DJ music I usually listen to coming out of Israel, is the political tones and meanings behind a lot of the songs. While its nice to escape reality once in awhile from music, it also feels good to hear this type of intelligence coming out of hip hop again.
Click Numbers 1 and 2 in the Shemspeed Player below to have a listen!
– Andrea Rosen