Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz brought Israeli vibes 'South by South West'

2015 will mark Kosha's eighth time at SXSW, but it will be the first time he will curate the official Oy Vey! showcase.

March 22, 2015 15:55
2 minute read.
Kosha Dillz

Kosha Dillz. (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA/CLOUDBOUND)

South by Southwest, a big-tent festival held annually in Austin, Texas, will also host the "Oy Vey!", a set of Israeli and Jewish flavored acts that collaborates with the indie and hip-hop scene.

According to, which is featuring the "Oy Vey!" crews' lineup, the collaboration includes "acts from Montreal to Memphis and Tel Aviv to Washington Dc, NJ, LA and more!"

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But behind this international coalition of artists is "Kosha Dillz", a Jewish indie-rapper out of New Jersey.

2015 will mark Kosha's eighth time at SXSW, but it will be the first time he will curate the official Oy Vey! showcase, an event that he called his "brain child" in an interview with Billboard Magazine earlier this month and that he claimed comes from "rapping at synagogues...and then in the hood."

But beyond the visage of this culture clash coordinator named Kosha Dillz is actually Rami Matan Even Esh, the son of Israeli immigrants whose troubled youth and struggle with drug abuse he says helped spawn the "Oy Vey!" initative.

"When I was younger I got incarcerated a few times for selling drugs and had a pretty rough history with addiction," Esh said, going on to explain that he modeled the initial stages of his music career on his drug-selling business, selling CD's out of his truck or in department stores, before he was noticed during his performance at SXSW.

But perhaps Kosha Dillz' best publicity stunt was thrust on him by the self-styled caliphate known as the Islamic State Group, or IS, who hacked the rapper's website, presumably for being Jewish.

"I think it was some kids from some Internet ISIS branch of Algeria ... and I was one of like 200 other sites that got hacked. I was the only Jewish rapper."

Apart from his Jewish identity, another reason for Esh to have been a target for key-board jihadists was his openness concerning his Israeli background.

"Yeah. I'm an Israeli citizen," Esh says. "We have a house in Israel and my family is there."

Esh even tried to impart a sense of what life can be like in Israel when things heat up.

"I think it's really hard for people to understand what it's like to be threatened, to have someone say they want you wiped off the mat. It's a very real threat that people threaten to blow up the entire country, and kill everyone and that's something Israel deals with. I don't know if anyone in America can actually grasp that."

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