Thursday, September 15, 2016

Yiddish Reggaeton - Sruli Broncher and Chaim Shlomo Mayes, "Oy A Broch!"

Jerusalem-based producer Sruli Broncher and Hasidic singer Chaim Shlomo Mayes have created one of the stranger cultural mashups - Yiddish-language reggaeton - with the new single "Oy A Broch!" (Yiddish for "Oh, A Disaster"). And...it actually kind of works.



Partial credit goes to Mayes, who, despite clearly being a student of the more "emotional" school of Hasidic singers, manages to comfortably ride the complex reggae rhythms and even delivers the song's hook in a rave-worthy bass rumble. (There's a reason his debut album is called Bass Kol.) But really, the star of the show here is Broncher's awesome beat work: the aforementioned reggae bounce, the soaring melody that builds into a "Turn Down For What"-esque breakdown, and the hair metal-worthy guitar solo towards the end all make for an exceedingly moshable tune. Lyrics-wise, my Yiddish is even worse than my Hebrew and yet is still better than Google Translate's grasp of the language, but lyrics are kind of beside the point with this type of music, and the few that I can make out seem appropriately dramatic and substantial.

Some interesting background: Mayes's comfort on this song might have to do with his long history of reappropriating pop music for Hasidic audiences. Before this song, he and Bronchner were best known for Yiddish versions of Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself" and Fifth Harmony's "Work It". Before that, back in 2007, he and another Israeli musician, Dudi Kalish, created an album called Rap in Yiddish, full of parodies of artists like 50 Cent and Madonna, which earned them a boycott by local Haredi rabbis at the time. Even with the current oversaturation of bad Jewish parody music, you have to admire that kind of commitment.

More music by Broncher, Mayes, and other artists can be found on Broncher's YouTube channel. Mayes' debut album, Bass Kol, can be found at Mostly Music and JewishMusic.fm.

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