Together in Song

Muki and Useless ID squash musical boundaries as hip-hop and punk rock pair up for a highly charged show.

muki and useless id 311 (photo credit: courtesy)
muki and useless id 311
(photo credit: courtesy)
A good collaboration is an amazing thing. It brings out something unique, something new and even surprising to each side. Jazz giants have always known that and created collaboration albums constantly. And now Muki and Useless ID are doing it, and the result is just as cool.
"Useless is incredible, they have great energy and they bring to my lyrics something that was never there before," says Muki, one of Israel's finest hip-hop artists.
Muki is among the founders of the hip-hop band Shabak Samech, and a successful solo artist, with two successful hip-hop albums and an album featuring acoustic versions of his songs. "Singing instead of rapping is what interests me the most now. Hip-hop and rap is a tool, it's not the only thing I've already sung on my acoustic album. I believe that an artist needs to develop."
Useless ID is a punk band. Formed in 1994, they have six albums behind them, five of them produced by the American label Kung Fu. Their shows are big in the US and even China, but Muki got hooked on them at a show in Rehovot. "I saw them perform and thought they were amazing. Their energy blew my mind. I had a song titled 'I Don't Want to Grow Up,' which I thought would be perfect to do with them.
Yotam Ben Horin, the band's lead singer, wrote music to the song in 15 minutes and the result was incredible. That song became the theme song of the TV show Ramzor, and both of us wanted to work more together. I had songs I wrote in the past two years that didn't have music to them. So Yotam did his thing and the album was created."
"Muki's songs felt like something fitting for us to sing," says Yishi Berger of Useless ID. "We try not to limit ourselves to one genre, or one text. I'm happy with what Muki brought. His lyrics are about topics, like love and relationships, different than our usual punk tunes. But we all live normal lives, and we stand behind what we sing."
The combination of the two groups created something else. It's punk tunes but with a unique bit, and with Muki's eloquent lyrics. There is even a song inspired by poet Itzhak Laor titled "My Soul" ("Nafshi"). Muki explains, "I got Laor's song book and that poem just blew me away. The text is smart and exciting. I edited it a little. I don't tend to sing other people's creations. I'm more of a creator than performer. But I enjoy doing other people's material if I can add to it something of my own."
Their shows together are a phenomenon that even got its own nickname: "Mookless."
"The shows are great," says Muki." "It's the thing I enjoy doing the most always, and now with Useless there's a combination of both our energies and it explodes on stage."
"There's a new crowd that neither of us saw before," Berger adds. "It's a crowd not marked with either Muki's or Useless's colors. We hope that this new crowd will get to know Useless in the process. They should know, though, that although we're becoming calmer, the punk scene is still our scene. Success is nice, but the most important thing is the music. New punk bands are now our warming - up show. It's not about mainstream or indie. It's about the change the new music created."
Muki and Useless ID take the stage at Tel Aviv's Barby, 52 Kibbutz Galuyot (03) 518-8123 on January 28 at 10 p.m. Tickets are NIS 60.