About Me

Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Veteran music journalist with 20+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, & B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Artist Of The Week - Kosha Dillz
Monday, August 04, 2008

New Jersey’s Kosha Dillz, born Rami M Even-Esh, is an emcee who is a first generation American son of Israeli immigrants. When he felt most alone Hip-Hop helped him find a place in the world. In 1998, after a significant amount of time rhyming with his good friend Yak Ballz, Dillz entered Braggin’ Rites, where he remembers “I stepped to Stronghold's Big Mike the Terror. I caused a big hoo-rah since he was twice my size. People were bugging out.” It’s no surprise the Jewish emcee says he’s always been a fan of shock value. Dillz’s latest project, Freestyle vs. Written, is a combined effort with Stronghold’s C-Rayz Walz. What makes the project unique is that Dillz wrote all of his verses for the album while Walz freestyled all of his in a marathon 24 hour studio session. Freestyle vs. Written will hit the net this month and stores nationwide later in the fall. In the meantime Dillz is touring with Yak Ballz, Aesop Rock and former Artist Of The Week Luckyiam from mid-August through September. Before he jetted off for that, however, I caught up with him to find out more about his work, how trying to fit in nearly cost him his life, and how he uses both his music and his heritage to reach out to people.

Adam Bernard: Growing up a Jewish kid who loved rap music, did you have any problems fitting in?
Kosha Dillz: Yeah. People in the tri-state are mixed from underground Fat Beats friendly people to "showcase" kids, which are a bunch of dudes who only know about radio. I loved going to the thugged out spots like Demerara because I felt I was better than most rappers and also for the shock value. I always felt a little bit outside the box and therefore loved wrestling because I got to ridicule and hit other people. Competitive aggression was healthy for me and made me the person I was. The concept of fitting in is natural for children. The unfortunate thing is that if it carries over into your adult life you may eventually pay the consequences with habits you may not be able to break. Fitting in starts at hopping in a circle but also digs deep into holes if you can "fit in." If you are tryin to be down with some people who don't want you down with them, don’t compromise your values. Fitting in has brought me to jails and institutions. Sometimes I wish was with the Math Club, but so be it!

Adam Bernard: It’s no wonder you stress being yourself in so much of your work. Speaking of who you are, what about you is Kosha and what about you is Dillz?
Kosha Dillz: I am Jewish, if you haven’t guessed it. I am currently carving my nitch in the music industry. The Kosha part of me is my presence and comfort level that I bring to adults, children, friends, and the music world. It’s the part of me that is held accountable for every action I take. Dillz is my showtime status. I am a ruthless business man, have strict boundaries, and have learned not to compromise my values for a little bit of extra whatever. When it combines as Kosha Dillz you have an artist who has earned every right to live off his art by simply being a stand up guy who takes chances in his representation of Israel and Jews through lyrics catered toward the market he is creating. He forms healthy alliances with friends and randoms and makes a big impact by popping up in areas many would not see fit to appear in, all for a change in the culture; from Shabbat dinner, to BBQs, to freestyles at Immortal Technique shows, to touring with C-Rayz Walz, to playing with Matisyahu. If you gave that description of an artist at a Jeopardy game or on Hollywood Squares the answer would be "Who is Kosha Dillz?" $1,500!! Cha ching!

Adam Bernard: I’ve always wanted to be a Jeopardy question! Moving to your work, you have a project coming out that features songs with you doing written rhymes for your verses and C-Rayz Walz doing freestyles for his. What gave you this idea and how hard was it to actualize?
Kosha Dillz: I was goin through a rough emotional time and really felt that I needed to complete something. Instead of putting crazy pressure on myself, which is natural for me, I decided to call up DJ Absurd, he produced “Hairy Chest 2 Hollywood” off my first 12'', and say "that's it!" I hit up C-Rayz and proposed this business plan for an EP and how we could push it. He was with it. I wanted him to freestyle the whole thing because it would excite him and be a publicist’s nightmare! All freestyles! Also I was about to go to Israel and I wanted pro-Israel concepts in it that had a black man standing next to me on certain issues. I also knew C-Rayz would not be able to be in the studio with me for longer than a certain time so I figured a 24 hour limit to our album would add on to its uniqueness. I said to Rayz, "You can only freestyle." Now that I recall, I might not have had enough money for studio time. Yeah I know, cheap Jew. (laughs)

Adam Bernard: What kind of things do you think can be learned from the creation of a project such as this?
Kosha Dillz: When you work with someone else you must compromise. Every movement and conversation you have with that person can change the art and validity you share as human beings. I learned that a project comes out different on an empty stomach. Treat your partner well. Rayz and I have known each other for a long time and I understand why many people can't work with him. He also knows why people don’t choose to work with me. We are very extreme people and we sacrificed our differences so others can enjoy the fruition.

Adam Bernard: I hear you do some other work, as well, speaking at events. What kind of gigs are these and what are you talking about at them?
Kosha Dillz: I speak at colleges in regards to my life. I was deeply involved with drugs and suffered from "fitting in" to the point where I existed everyday only to slave to the imaginary world I lived in. I went to jails numerous times, escaped death numerous times, and all of it happened under the guise of "college student fitting in." I perform a lot for Jewish communities at college and intertwine them with presentations to Hip-Hop communities to show the presence of Hip-Hop for the state of Israel. As a Jew I received a lot of anti-Semitism for representing who I was only because I loved the shock value. What I learned was that many Jews were around me but didn't say anything. Now people come up to me and tell me they’re Jews and that they appreciate what I do. I’m trying to uplift my people to the next level and bring the kind of pride back that I see to be so evident in other cultures within Hip-Hop. A lot of my events consist of charity work. The record myself and C-Rayz did also gives a percentage of the earnings to relief funds to Israeli families who lost relatives, or were injured, in terrorist attacks. It also contributes to the Ethnic Foundation for Understanding, which was co-founded Russell Simmons and Rabbi Marc Schneider and bridged the relationships between African Americans and Jews.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/koshadillz4life
MySpace: myspace.com/freestylevswritten
Blog: koshadillz.blogspot.com
Blog: everyoneisjewish.blogspot.com


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:47 AM  
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