Rooftop Roots a Jdub mixtape
by Guy Emanuel
The Rooftop Roots “mixtape,” which is not mixed in the true mixtape sense at all, starts off with Balkan Beat Box’s “Digital Monkey.” Tomer Yosef proclaims to be said “Digital Monkey.” I’m not sure I’m in on this joke though. This album isn’t as fresh and new sounding as the last, I remember when Jdub released their self titled album and I thought it was from Heaven. The album blended sample based drums with live instruments in a seemlessly beautiful and wholly original way. Balkan Beat Box’s albums reflected their lively shows. They were insane parties that were a great wake up call to each American city that hosted them. Tomer Yosef never fully shined on any of the BBB albums, which is a shame since his solo work is so great and seems to have more inline with the group who come in second on the CD, Soulico.
Soulico is a DJ crew from Israel that have mastered the art of the blend. Often times, it is tough for such DJs to overcome their blend craftyness and step into the production game releasing tracks as equally impressive as their favorite blends. Soulico seems not to have this issue, their famous single entitled “Lo Tzipiti” featuring MC Karolina is a ragga infused two-step? I think…Honestly, I don’t even know how you would break it down, it’s got a nice reggae feel and the singing is infectious. Karolina calls out the DJs of Soulico and sings how all of the party people want more and more when they DJ. Karolina sings how she has been waiting for this groove and after listening to it over a few times. It’s obvious that she is not the only one.
Next up comes the clever Yiddish slingin folk rapper, So Called. On this track, he actually raps in Yiddish…many tracks he does not…but in this one he does! The track is fused with a simple drum break, but it’s the strings, guitar, and thumping bassline that make this track jump with energy. Just when you think you got your yiddish/klezmer fix, Golem comes on with their “Warsaw is Khlem” song…Klezmer so hardcore that you’d have to go to a hipster Brooklyn wedding to catch anything like it.
BenLaVain riffs in with a 90’s style grunge-tinged track which seems a bit odd in the mix, but just picture ipod shuffle ala Jdub. The Wailing Wall is a perfect name for the song that comes on after the second Balkan Beat Box track. The Wailing Wall is another name for Jesse Rifkin and it’s the perfect name for a singer with such a whiny voice. The composition is very catchy and nice, but oh so tinny sounding. Alicia Jo Rabins, the fiddler from Golem, gets a bit anti-folk here fitting with the random folk tracks thrown into the mix weighing in equally against this mostly klezmer and balkan cd. As you listen to this CD and realize it is a label sampler, you realize how impressively diverse Jewish music has become.
Sagol 59’s “Lech Kadima” track shines amongst the best tracks on this CD. Israeli Hip Hop always sounds fresh to us Hebrew children and this one has a great beat and a singalong worthy chorus. This is the first Jdub mixtape I have actually seen out and about and overall it’s not bad for a label sampler. Also, how bad could it be if they had the good sense to borrow Shemspeed’s gramaphone aesthetic for their cover?