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Published:August 27th, 2006 14:47 EST
Judyth Piazza interviews Etan G, The Jewish Rapper

Judyth Piazza interviews Etan G, The Jewish Rapper

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

When Etan G was ten years old, his parents took him to the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, MD for the Beethoven / Mozart concert series. Etan was mesmerized by the music - the way in which all the instruments harmonized perfectly to create one cohesive sound. Etan was also captivated by the music he heard on Friday evenings, with family and friends, singing songs around the Sabbath table - he loved the way music and spirituality reinforced one another and knew that music was something he wanted to be a part of.

However, before his music career would begin, Etan G explored many other occupations. In the summer of 1985 he worked with a friend at a Sno-ball stand, which proved to be highly successful, and in 1988-1990 he worked as a barber in a school in Israel while he was student. Etan G also had stints as a waiter, a security guard and as a research assistant at a methadone clinic. Most of his early professional experiences, however, were focused on educating children in the Jewish community. Etan spent summers as a camp counselor at Jewish camps and spent the school year leading Jewish youth groups and teaching Judaic studies. Later, he would obtain a Master`s degree in General Education.

While working as a teacher, Etan used music as a fun way to educate kids. As a youth in his local NCSY (National Conference of Synagogue Youth) chapter, Etan became famous for cleverly changing the words of popular songs to fit Jewish themes. His charisma, good looks and positive outlook attracted the attention of many. During this time, Lenny Solomon and his Shlock Rock band became the house band for Etan`s region of NCSY. At every weekend retreat, Shlock Rock would play and Etan G would perform one or two songs. He could also be found breakdancing and rapping in the lobbies of many synagogues. Eventually, Lenny Solomon invited Etan G to become a regular member of Shlock Rock. Now, Etan is asked to tour with Shlock Rock and do over 40 live engagements per year with them, where he shows off his rapping skills and his self-choreographed dance moves inspired by such movies as "Saturday Night Fever," "Purple Rain," "Wild Style", "Beat Street," and "Breakin."

Through his experience with Shlock Rock, their international success and his various jobs with Jewish children, Etan G began to appreciate the huge influence rap has on kids and society. What he did not like was the way in which kids embraced the negative values embodied by some of rap`s most popular personalities, particularly those who promoted drugs and violence. Etan G discovered that he could use music and his rapping skills to unify people and create a positive community - where it is cool to be yourself and have fun. This vision is what drives Etan G`s solo work, including his first album release, South Side of the Synagogue.

In some ways, South Side of the Synagogue was a departure from Etan`s earlier work, which was exclusively geared toward Jewish youth. South Side was produced with the help of Grammy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated Cedric Samson and Macy Gray`s producer Daryl "D-Style" Swan. The album, which also features the talents of blues guitarist Jonny Childs and a soulful gospel choir, is a crossover album, taking Etan G out of an exclusively Jewish market and into the mainstream in a positive and fun way. He has appeared on stages all over the world and performed for diverse audiences. His songs have been heard on television and in several movies. He has been a host and MC for numerous festivals and events. He has been invited and attended the Grammy Awards the past 4 years, as well as the BET Awards the past 3 years. Etan G has appeared on The Howard Stern Show, the reality series "No Opportunity Wasted" and the game show, Shop Til` You Drop, "just for fun". He recently completed 4 new songs with the band "Shlock Rock" for their new album "J Rap City". Etan G is already working on his second solo album, which will be completed as South Side makes waves across the globe and he shows no signs of slowing down.

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