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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week – Eprhyme
Monday, July 06, 2009

You don’t hear a lot of rappers spittin about Kabbalah, but that's just one of the things that makes well traveled emcee Eprhyme so interesting. Eprhyme grew up in Phoenix where he played the sax and did poetry readings with his brother Cannupa Hanska, primarily at a club called The House of Grooves. During that time in the mid 90’s he also started jumping into some ciphers, although he didn’t actually write any of his rhymes down until half a decade later. At 18 Eprhyme moved to Olympia, WA, for college and ended up staying for ten years before eventually moving to Brooklyn. While in Olympia he rapped with a crew called the Saints of Everyday Failures. The group would put out five albums independently. Before that he was in what he describes as an “art-noise-ritual-metal jazz band” called American Cancer. This week, intrigued by both his music and his life story, I sat down with Eprhyme to ask him about his mixing of traditional Jewish music with Hip-Hop, his openness about his religion in his work, and what Kabbalah is really all about.

Adam Bernard: Start me off by telling me how you ended up with the name Eprhyme.
Eprhyme: That’s actually a complicated and nerdy story. I came across the term "e-prime" in a book called Quantum Psychology. I always thought it was kind of a cop out to have a moniker with the first letter of your name and some goofy word, but then when I stopped being so hyper critical of everything I realized it was kinda classic and this was perfect - e-prime. It refers to a neuro-linguistic programming technique thought up by semanticists in the early to mid 1900’s. It’s the English language without the word "is." So nothing IS anything. Things may "seem to be" something, but you can’t fully define or understand something with a single word. Quantum physicists started using e-prime when they came across the wave-particle duality, when they realized that if they looked at light through one lens it was a wave and through another lens it was a particle, so they could never definitively say that "light IS a wave," or that "light IS a particle." It was both at once. It’s a linguistic technique designed to deal with paradox and ambiguity, so I thought that was pretty cool. Then I realized that my initials are EP and that I could spell "rime" like “rhyme,” so then it turned into EPrhyme, which lots of people mistake for Ephryme (efraim), but it’s not, it’s pronounced E-prime. I told you it was gonna be nerdy.

Adam Bernard: Nerdy, but really dope. Moving to your album, waywordwonderwill, which is due out in the fall, what was the process of melding Jewish music and Hip-Hop music like? How long did it take to get it right?
Eprhyme: Ultimately, it was pretty smooth. Each kind of music, from the Klezmer to the Middle Eastern music, has its own rhythms and textures and it was just about bringing out that funk that was already there. That’s always been what Hip-Hop was about, finding the funk and swing in all kinds of music that is just waiting to bump. I was privileged to be able to work on this project with my good friend Smoke of Oldominion. He's a fuckin Jedi. I basically dropped off a ton of songs and samples that I had been collecting over about two years and waited for what he came back with. It was amazing. As far as the lyrics, that was easy because rap is a universal language through which you can tell any number of stories, so that’s what I did, I wrote my story.

Adam Bernard: There are a lot of topically relevant songs on waywordwonderwill. Are there any specific points in particular you hope people better understand after they listen to the record?
Ephryme: Yes, definitely.
1) Maybe white men can’t jump, but for sure Jews can rap. {laughs}
2) Hip-Hop is a universal language and rap is an art form and it can make you think and dance at the same time.
3) Cultures and conflicts are complex webs of collective consciousness and contradictions.
4) Violence is not an option in the pursuit of sustainable peace.
5) Judaism is culturally and spiritually unique, universal, accessible and relevant.
6) Collective/communal dynamics are reflections of personal imbalances and dis-ease... and vice-versa.
7) We all individually have the power and choice to make a difference in our own lives and in the world.
8) G!D is not a bearded man in the sky waiting to judge you... It's all G!D. You “twoo” are One.

Adam Bernard: You mention Kabbalah on your album. Could you tell everyone your thoughts on that offshoot of Judiasm and what it means? Most people only think of it as a celebrity trend because of Madonna and Ashton Kutcher.
Eprhyme: Sure. To start, Kabbalah is not an offshoot of Judaism, it is one of the many integral facets of Judaism which really only fully reveals itself when viewed and experienced within the context of the rest of Judaism. The practice, observance and discipline of Judaism actually bring the Kabbalistic teachings to life, so it does not remain just a head game, but you are able to bring the teachings down into your heart and your body and your life. Kabbalah is the tradition and transmission of the "concealed" Torah. There is the "revealed" Torah and the "concealed" Torah. They deal with different aspects of our lives and souls, but ultimately they are one and the same. Literally, Kabbalah means "to receive." Some people interpret this to refer to the oral transmission from teacher to student. It is the teachings and tradition that you must "receive" from someone experientially. It was actually debated for hundreds of years whether or not to even write these ideas down because people might just read them and not "receive" them from a living source, but as time went on it became increasingly clear that the human race would benefit from the spreading of these teachings and traditions, so gradually the "concealed" Torah is being "revealed." Personally I interpret the term "to receive" to be referring to a state of consciousness, the "receptive" state, where one is clear and open to take in new and seemingly paradoxical information and experiences on a very deep psycho-physical soul level. Most methods of meditation, or yoga, and even the arts are intended to assist in achieving such an inspired state. Kabbalah is the Jewish tradition, art, and science of achieving the "receptive" state of consciousness, so we can receive what is constantly being revealed, the revelation of One.

Adam Bernard: Religion can be both uniting and alienating. How do you feel people will react to your openness about your faith?
Eprhyme: I don’t know. Really I’m just trying to bring and share my whole self in my music. I’m a religious person, so that’s gonna be in my music, but I’m a religious person in the etymological sense. The word religion means "to connect," so I’m a religious person in the sense that I am constantly seeking to connect with G!D, with other people, with the earth, and with my deepest self. I grew up listening to rappers talk openly about their spirituality. That was one of the things I loved about rap music, you could be open and honest about who you were and you could talk about G!D, poverty, girls and rockin the mic all in one song. It was so true to the reality of the human mind at any given moment in time. It felt so honest. You know KRS-ONE, Killah Priest, Tupac and tons of other rappers have shared their deepest thoughts, feelings and struggles with G!D and life and spirituality and philosophy. I don’t feel like I’m doin anything different. It’s just a different set of symbols. I’m just trying to round out the picture of the human mandala as expressed through Hip-Hop, adding another voice to the cosmic symphony.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/eprhyme
Modular Moods: modularmoods.com
Shemspeed: shemspeed.com
Krecs: krecs.com


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:34 AM  
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