The Rap Interview

Yisroel Rosenburg was not the first student in Yeshiva to have non-Jewish magazines in the dormitory. That is an accomplishment so old that no one dares take responsibility for it. Nor was Yisroel the first Yeshiva student to start a secular magazine. That honor lies with a young Texan who was responsible for an issue of Rodeo USA. The Texan is learning in a kollel in Israel right now, and refuses to discuss his magazine out of embarrassment for his lasso days. Yisroel Rosenburg though was the first Yeshiva student to interview a famous hip-hop artist in his dormitory.

Friends of Yisroel’s father arranged a meeting between the now famous student, and the chart-topping hip-hop star, GJ57. It had been Yisroel’s aspiration for a number of years to be published in a music magazine, and he saw an in-depth exclusive interview with the nation’s hottest star as his ticket into an already overrun market. They met in his small 20ftx20ft dorm room, leaving the rapper√ɬ≠s entire posse outside to scare the students and flip out racy comments through the window to the seminary girls, walking by the building below.

“So,” Yisroel began, taking a deep breath and praying to G-d not to let him screw up. “What was your intention in writing this last album… how did you conceptualize it in the development?”

“Conceptualize it? Hmmm. What the hell is this?” GJ57 held up a pair of Yisroel’s tzitzit to the light. He ran his fingers through the strings and felt the knots between his thumb and forefinger. He let his eyes wander up and down the two black stripes on the clothing.

“Oh. That is tzitzit. It is a shirt we wear to remind us of G-d’s commandments,” Yisroel noted, hoping that the rapper√ɬ≠s interest would end there and they could get on with the interview. “Did you find that the songs on the album came to you spontaneously, or were they methodically planned out to be written?”

“Yeah yeah brother,” GJ57 exclaimed. “G-d’s commandments are one heavy idea. Cause, see, He wants us to do His will, but sometimes a man can forget in life. Things are tough and he doesn√ɬ≠t remember what the Lord wants him to do. These strings are a great invention.”

“Yeah, I guess.” They sat in silence for a minute when a huge blast was heard from the hall and the sounds of crying. Yisroel leapt from his seat, gave GJ57 the sign to stay where he was and walked out into the hallway.

One of GJ57’s posse was holding a Yeshiva student by the legs and swinging him back and forth. The crying was coming from another large bodyguard who couldn√ɬ≠t stop himself from convulsing into laughter. The student√ɬ≠s face was red, though whether this was from embarrassment, or blood draining to his head, it was hard to tell.

“Drop him,” Yisroel commanded, and the man indeed let the student drop, right onto his head. Once the boy had stood up, and wiped the dust off his pants, he shot Yisroel a dirty look and ran down the hall. Presumably back into the study hall to learn. “Listen guys; try to leave the local boys alone. I am not supposed to have you all here in the Dorm anyway, and if the Rabbis found out, it would be my tuchos, er ass, on the line. So just chill out.”


“Whatever you want,” Yisroel rolled his eyes and returned to his exclusive interview inside.

GJ57 was wearing his tzitzit and had the large yarmulke, the one Yisroel went to sleep at night in, on his head. He was closely examining a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the wall, and holding a hand to his face, as is to wonder what it would be like to have a beard of his own.

“Yo, my brother, I love your strings. They always can remind me of the Lord’s will now. And this head covering, yeah my man. It makes me feel like a holy man.”

“Uh huh. That is a yarmulke and it is supposed to bring about fear of heaven. Listen, I really gotta do this interview, so let me just ask a couple questions, and then you can ask all you like. What was the inspiration behind the song, Shake Yar Booty, Come and Kiss Me?”

“So I have my remembrance of G-d’s demands on my waist, a good place for it indeed, cause it is a place, like I say in my song, where you get a lot of struggle against G-d’s will. And I got my fear of heaven on my head, so I don’t get bigheaded and all. Who is this holy Rabbi on the wall? He’s got a long beard,” GJ57 looked at Yisroel carefully. “You ain’t got no beard at all. Do you shave? You gotta have a beard like the holy Rabbi.”

“So, you were inspired to write Shake Yar Booty, Come and Kiss Me because… I mean, because it doesn√ɬ≠t sound like a song about following G-d’s will. It is more about condoning free love.”

“You aren’t gonna answer my questions? I thought we were friends.” GJ57 began to pout. His spread his lower lip out and opened his arms wide. A knock came at the bedroom door, the door began to open, and GJ57’s bodyguard stuck his head through it. He looked worried.

“Yo GJ, some guys told a friend of my cousin that 9foot’s posse was gonna be riding around here looking for you. They want some action after you ripped their CD so heavy to the last interviewer.” Yisroel’s eyes opened wide. He knew it was risky to bring a rapper to the Yeshiva, but he had thought that if they conducted the interview quickly, he could get away with it. But a rivalry on the campus? He would surely be held responsible for any property damages. He didn√ɬ≠t pay attention much in Gemara class, but he knew instinctively that he would probably be liable to monetary problems arising from any dispute. Plus, any deaths happening to innocent bystanders might be prosecutable by American Law.

“No. No,” GJ57 responded. “I have turned over a new leaf.” He held up his tzitzit and pointed to his yarmulke. “I am gonna follow in the footsteps of the holy Rabbi,” and he pointed to the picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. “You tell 9foot that I only got love for him and his men. We can work out whatever he is bitchin about. I only got love.” The bodyguard nodded and closed the door.

“So. I was going to ask you eventually about the beef between you and 9foot, but I guess that is over.”

“Mmmmhmmm. But tell me. Who is this holy Rabbi?”

Yisroel shrugged and sighed, resigned to his fate as a curator to the world of Judaism, and not as a budding young rock reporter. “He is the Lubavtcher Rabbi, the leading rabbinical figure of the religious world. He is also controversial, because he is considered the current leader of the movement, though technically he passed away. In fact, many people refuse to believe he died.”

“Like biggie. I’ve got word on high from the Lord,” he stopped and making a motion of touching six points on his chest, “that biggie is still alive. He and Tupac are working on some crazy music together I hear.”

“Why did you touch your chest six times?”

“Cause I am making the Magen David on my chest. Can√ɬ≠t cross myself anymore. Now I√ɬ≠ve accepting the Jewish faith. I will wear the tzitzit down to my waist, and let my body know that I belong to G-d.”

Another knock came at the door, and Yisroel turned to open it exasperated. The Rosh Yeshiva stood at the door with the student that the posse had been messing with, hanging by his legs. Yisroel peeked out the door of his room to see what the hallwayís situation was, and saw all of the bodyguards and friends standing against the wall, breathing quickly, watching nervously.

“I told the young men outside to wait for me to talk to them,” the Rabbi said sternly. “But as for you Yisroel, what were you thinking? Skipping a test to entertain guests? And letting them torture another student. I am very disappointed.”

“I am sorry Rabbi.”

“Indeed.” The Rosh Yeshiva looked at GJ57 quizzically, eyes first drawn to all of the bling-bling and gold chain, and then to the yarmulke and tzitzit. He squinted hard, did a double take, and squinted again. “Are you new in this Yeshiva? I apologize,” he stuck his hand out. “I unfortunately with all of my obligations have not had the opportunity to meet all of the new students. Yisroel I know from all of the trouble he is always in, but I don√ɬ≠t believe I have made your acquaintance, Mr?”

“Oh. Uh. Lubavitch. My name is Lubavitch. Like the Rabbi,” GJ57 pointed to the picture and smiled.

“Hmm. Probably named after the town, right? An original name, but not a bad one. Are you parents converts? Excuse the question if you are offended. Are you rich?”

“No, they aren√ɬ≠t converts. But hell yeah, I am rich.”

“Oh! Good. Well,” the Rabbi looked around once again, evidently pleased. “Enjoy learning in our Yeshiva. Yisroel, thank you for helping this new student settle in, but please don’t do it during a test next time.”

The Rabbi left, and Yisroel let out a breath of air he had been holding in.

“Thanks for covering for me. Shall we continue with the interview?”

“I like that. I am in the Yeshiva now. The Rabbi said. Well, I never thought this would go so quick. Must be a blessing for my quick return to G-d. I do regret putting out that awful single now. What hurt towards the Lord it must have caused.”

“Well, I happen to like it,” Yisroel said.

“What? You want to bump and grind with the woman? But how about G-d’s will? Listen, remember my question about your beard?”

GJ57 sat and learned in the Yeshiva for around a month. To all of the other students, he was just another wacky convert stopping in to experience Yeshiva life. For Yisroel, he was a study partner for Gemara in the morning, Chassidut in the evening. It was, Yisroel said later, the best learning he had ever done. After the month was over though, GJ57 had to go. It turned out that 9foot was threatening his record label, and he needed to take care of what was his. But he swore to return. He left a very generous check with the Rosh Yeshiva, who clutched his chest in joy. As he stepped into his limo, with tinted windows and rear-mounted guns, he lifted his shirt up to reveal a pair of tzitzit.

“May Hashem be with you, dog,” he cried out to Yisroel and sped off.

Yisroel for one was sure that he had a Rollingstone worthy article. He spent two weeks writing GJ57 in Yeshiva and sent it off to the magazine. He was sure that the magazine would accept it, but none-the-less, he still got a rejection slip in the mail. He brightened immediately when he read it, knowing that it was only a matter of time until he got officially published.

Dear Mr. Rosenburg,
While your piece of speculative fiction about famous rapper GJ57 in Yeshiva was entertaining, we are not in the habit of publishing short stories. We do wish you luck with the piece, and in fact recommend looking into one of the more literary magazines. We are sure you will be successful.

Indeed he was.

May 24th, 2004 by