Canadian Jewish rap is truly something to behold. And tonight, you’ll be able to behold it at Yu Yin Tang when Socalled (aka Josh Dolgin) hits the stage. Socalled is known for mixing hip hop with slightly less street sounds – drum & bass, folk music and klezmer.
Based in Montreal, Socalled plays piano, sings, arranges, raps, writes, produces and even tangles with an accordion. He has played in David Krakauer’s Klezmer Madness!, sung with Toronto-based Beyond the pale, and has helped conduct an Addath Israel choir on occasion.
We managed to get a few questions in with him before his show tonight.
Is this your first time in China? Any first impressions?
Yes this is my first time in China. So far it is crazy… the food is incredible and the people have been so nice. Also, there’s incredible architecture and the men in uniform are very impressive and there’s so many amazing stores… I love the green tea everywhere.
What do you want to do while you’re here?
I just want to meet people, share my music and make friends and fans while I’m here…
Where: Yu Yin Tang 1731 Yan’an Xi Lu (entrance on Kaixuan Lu), 延安西路1731号
Starts: Saturday, May 2, 9PM
What do you think draws people to your shows or your music?
The energy, the sense of freedom and of humour… the melodies, the funky rhythms, the voices, the samples, the rhymes…
How did you come up with your particular style of klezmer/rap music? Why do you think it works?
When I started collecting records to make rap music with, I started to find old Jewish music which I had never heard as a kid… amazing Yiddish theatre music, cantorial music… So I started to incorporate these sounds into the rap I was making and it works because the Jewish stuff is really funky and hooky.
There are lots of great breaks and riffs and sounds that sample well, you want to hear them looped, they’re groovy and soulful, and they’re a little less commonly heard. It’s a treat.
Your music has been called, among other things, “Jewish hip-hop.” Playing in Shanghai, a city that doesn’t have much of a hip-hop or a Jewish scene, how do you think your music will be identified?
I hope people will just hear the passion and fun of the music. It doesn’t matter what it is, what the racial/ethnic origins of the music are… it’s just evocative, it makes you feel, it’s fun or it’s sad, it’s beautiful, it’s real.
Are you planning on changing anything about your show because you’re here in China?
What do you think about playing in Shanghai as part of a Canadian lineup? Think you’ll make a good ambassador of your home country?
Definitely! Why not! Canada is all about different people, with different backgrounds and different histories getting along together… and the power of hybrid music, the massive power of fusion, traditional music and new technologies, different styles. It’s all good…
Are you working on anything new these days?
Almost finished a new record… It’s slamming. Gonna be awesome.
Tell us about what you’ll be playing Saturday.
All the hits, old ones and new ones. Featuring an awesome Bulgarian guitarist, Lubo Alexandrov, a violinist with Chinese roots, Alex Chow, and the amazing singer, Katie Moore… also Michael Felber holding it down on the bass… always excited to bring these new sounds to new audiences that are open to cool stuff…