Hip-hop and rap are other musical realms that are at least in part being shaped by the Israeli presence, and here the country’s cross section of cultures is very much in evidence. Hip-hop is largely about borrowing and repurposing, as heard for example in Produx’s “Ichiban,” a hilarious remix from Fiddler on the Roof, and in Nechi Nech’s “Godzilla,” in which “Hava Nagila” is made to rhyme with “Thriller” (as in Michael Jackson). Shadia Mansour (known as the “first lady of Arabic hip-hop”) takes on both Middle East politics and gender stereotyping.
The band Hadag Nahash (“Snake-Fish”) mashes up funk, jazz, world music, and Western pop, while the very popular Israeli-American band Balkan Beat Box fuses traditional Middle Eastern and Balkan sounds, “gypsy punk,” and electronica—really anything from the most ancient folk rhythms to the edgiest trap music—to create an irresistibly percussive and hard-hitting music. (Full disclosure: This author is not an aficionado of hip-hop or other contemporary sounds, but discovered Balkan Beat Box while eating dinner at Jerusalem’s Machneyuda restaurant. There, it isn’t uncommon, late some evenings, for the chefs to exit the kitchen, still in their aprons, and to dance among—and sometimes on—the tables. Balkan Beat Box’s music provides just the right propulsive rhythms for their insanity.)