THIS IS Israel, we don’t rap about big houses, fancy cars, and girls!... We’re Israelis; we’re not trying to be America’s shadow. Our destiny is to make our tribute to this nation through music,’ says local hip hop artist Nechi Nech.
(photo credit: TAMUZ RACHMAN)
Israel may not be known for its hip hop...yet. But Petach Tikvah’s own Nechi Nech is trying to change that.
How did you first get into rapping?
After releasing three albums independently that have seen him grow in skill, depth, and popularity, Nechi Nech is starting to work on a new album. He hopes his fourth effort will help usher in a new era that stamps hip hop onto the collective Israeli consciousness. Nechi Nech is currently touring in Israel and his next show is on August 18th at Reading 3 in Tel Aviv’s port. Nechi Nech took a break from being the hardest working rapper to talk with the JPost about discovering hip hop through the Space Jam soundtrack, going from a group to a solo artist, and the differences between Israeli and American rappers.
I was born in Petach Tikvah. We moved around a lot within the city when I was younger, so I saw all sides of Petach Tikvah.
I got into hip hop when I was 12. My sister was a crazy hip hop and R&B addict. She is a few years older than me and she was listening to a lot of Snoop Dogg, Mariah Carey, TLC, and Warren G. She had the Space Jam soundtrack, and I stole it from her and was crazy about it. I listened to it all day long. A couple years after that, I got into Israeli hip hop and it blew my mind.
From that day on, I became a rapper. Before I had any stories to tell or something to say, I decided that I was a rapper.Did you feel like your stories had to catch up with your desire to rhyme?
Yeah, I really loved the music and rhyming, but at first, I didn’t have anything to say. It was a bit strange, but it grew over time.So how did you go from a young teenager who wants to be an emcee, to someone who was taking this seriously as a life choice?
A friend of mine introduced me to two dudes who were a year older than me, who also rapped. We formed a group and were performing. The name of the group was Produx. It’s a mix-up of the word paradox.
A friend of ours went to an advanced class in Junior High and he got a book of vocabulary words. One of the words was ‘paradox,’ but I thought he was saying ‘produx.’ He said that should be our name. When we asked what it meant, he said it was against the mainstream society. A few years after, we discovered the mix-up. I was 18 or 19 at the time, and I was like, “That’s not even a word!” It was funny.How did you go from Produx to a solo career?
Produx was together from 2003-2010. We were three best friends and we spent all our time together. When we finished the army, we made an album together and we knew that we would always stay friends no matter what. I knew all along that I wanted to be an emcee and blend hip hop with reggae; this is what I wanted to do with my life. My friends started thinking that they should get jobs. One wanted to work for UPS and the other one went to be a barber. Our lives had different paths.
Shekel, the dude who produced our album, is a very talented beatmaker. We went on from there to make my first solo album, The Righteous Man of Sodom, which came out in 2011. Then I got into directing my own videos and me and Shekel started to perform together. He was my DJ. Then Dubstep took over Israel for a second and a half, and Shekel loved it. He was one of the pioneers of Israeli Dubstep and I was featured on his tracks. In 2013, my second album dropped.
In 2015, my third album dropped. I’ve been doing this officially for six years now.Are you signed to a label?
No, I have a good friend of mine who became my manager. We are doing this together. I also have a band right now that plays with me.
You’re touring now. Are you promoting new material? Yeah, I’m working on my fourth album and I’m excited about it. I’m going to get into the studio in November. Until then, I’m touring like crazy and performing wherever I can. The album is going to be called Ebb and Flow. I’m in the writing process now. When I’m in the right mood and I have inspiration, which doesn’t happen a lot, I just sit at the computer and write lyrics.
But every day, I get ideas like names for songs, a melody for a chorus, an idea for a beat, and I write it down. Then when I have a studio session, we work on it. So I don’t write a lot, but I have a lot of ideas that I record. That’s kind of my process.What inspires you?
That’s a great question. Lately I feel like I’m growing up. When I was a teenager, the most inspiring subject was, ‘I gotta be the best emcee! I gotta bury all of their careers!’ Now I want to live a meaningful life with happiness and peace of mind. I follow a page on Instagram called “Think, Grow, Prosper” and they have memes with sentences that blow my mind. So I’m there, I’m very into spirituality and reading. I’m a nerd.How would you describe the hip hop scene in Israel?
There are a lot of emcees who are all so different from one another. People came from all around the world to live here and you can really feel that in Israeli hip hop. We have amazing emcees and producers.
It’s a matter of time before hip hop becomes a respected genre in Israel like rock and Mediterranean music. It’s gonna be in the next few years. I see the effect on the youth. They love Beyonce, Rihanna, and Kendrick Lamar. He’s my idol. Hip hop is pop these days in the world. That has its effect on the Israeli people.What do you hope will be the future of hip hop?
I can only hope that people will continue making excellent albums and pushing forward. If I push myself forward, I’m a little part of this process. Most of the Israeli people still don’t know who we are. Rappers here need to work hard, stay humble, and don’t get confused and start chasing the money or the fame. We don’t have that here anyway. People tell me that I’m supposed to be tough and talking about money because I’m a rapper. This is Israel, we don’t rap about big houses, fancy cars, and girls! We don’t go out every night to party! We work hard every day and night! We’re Israelis; we’re not trying to be America’s shadow.
Our destiny is to make our tribute to this nation through music.