Jewish Music: DJ Handler

New York based DJ Handler is an African-American involved Jewishly for many years before conveting to Orthodox Judaism.

dj handler 88 (photo credit: )
dj handler 88
(photo credit: )
DJ Handler Presents Y-Love The Mixtape (Modular Moods) African-American by birth, New York's Y-Love, a.k.a. Yitz Jordan, was involved Jewishly for many years before undergoing Orthodox conversion in 2000 via the Bostoner sect of Hassidism. He began rapping as a way to liven up Talmud study, and today the MC who mixes English with Hebrew, Arabic, Yiddish and Aramaic, is being touted as the scene's next crossover success. Sure, having dark skin lends Y-Love plenty of hip-hop credibility, but as he recently told the Montreal Mirror, "I'm sitting there, eating gefilte fish on shabbos too. At no point am I any more black than I am Jewish. I don't ever get to prioritize or classify or turn one on and one off." According to DJ Handler, the head of new-school Jewish music label Modular Moods, The Mixtape is "sort of an introduction into Y-Love and his world." On "Devine Dress Code," Y-Love boasts about having little respect for intellectual property laws, which jives well with the disc's choice of sampled riffs and other elements. Chances are slim that DJ Handler went through the proper channels and obtained the rights to use Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman," JJ Fad's old-school "Supersonic," Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" and Aphex Twin's breakbeat jungle "Windowlicker." The sonic landscape on Mixtape is varied and much more focused on clubby-electro-prog turnablism than the showcased MC's narrative, but all of this only serves to reinforce the guerilla mixtape concept. The disc closes with alternate mixes of "Bump" by guest DJ Sound Advice, elaborating on Y-Love's threat to "party like it's 5759," which was, of course, the Jewish calendar's 1999. DJ Handler Laissez-Jouer Vol. 1 (Modular Moods) The other Modular Moods release for winter '06-'07 is the solo DJ Handler showcase Laissez-Jouer Vol. 1, which plays like a low-fi mixtape. Jouer opens with three epic extended mixes, which sample from contemporary MC Beans verses, a Balkan Beat Box riff, some Hindi rapping, Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean", a Bjork house remix, plenty of Eighties New Wave, a Steve Martin standup bit, Sixties soul pop, David Bowie's "Let's Dance," happy seminal late-Eighties rap and a quirky Afro-Conga "Aquarius" jam. The three-track party set culminates with "Balagan Boogaloo," named a critics' pick by Time Out New York when it was first released as a single in 2005. Later, "Yemenaf" features ethnic chanting over a driving beat, while the closing live tracks, "Caught Trading" and "Dark Days with Coltrane," are low-quality audience recordings of Handler's avant garde live collaborations with Tzadik Records solo guitarist Eyal Maoz and Rashanim/Pharaoh's Daughter bassist Shanir Blumenkranz. Ben Jacobson can be reached at