XXL has covered many things in its time. Biggie Smalls. 50 Cent. War. Politics. Hate Love.  Yeah even Flava Flav reincarnated. I’d like to introduce you to Y-Love. He is a man of an intense background and can make a simple interview look like a college thesis. Put your thinking caps on. Make sure your stomach is empty. This will take time to digest. Jewish. Proud. Black. Rap. Electro..Rock.
Baltimore. He represents Shemspeed and Modular Moods Records. More importantly he represents diversity. That’s a lot different than just being diverse guys. He lives it.

RubyHornet:  What does Y-Love mean?

Y-Love: My old MC partner and chavruta (study partner), Cels-1 gave me the name back in the day when we started rhyming around 2001.  Y not only stands for my name, (Yitz) but it also stands for the first letter of G-d’s Name, giving the idea that G-d loves all of us… It also is a sentence: Y is the question, love is the answer.  “Y hate?” is a question that should answer itself — hatred is so ridiculous that “y hate?” is the question that people should *already* be asking.
RubyHornet: Are you in to movies, which ones?

Y-Love:  Hahaha…am I into movies?…not really so much.  I mean, I like stupid comedies like “Grandma’s Boys” and “The Simpsons Movie” (“How High” and “Big Lebowski” are some of my favorite movies) but my favorite types of movies are old school horror movies and documentaries like “Fahrenheit 9/11”, “Bowling for Columbine”, “Corporation”, and “Unconstitutional”. Favorite horror movie of all time was this movie called “Event Horizon” about a spaceship that went to hell — whoever wrote that script had to have done some Scriptural research on the topic, because some of the stuff that “happened in hell” was stuff straight out of Scripture talking about punishments.
RubyHornet: Tell us about what yeshiva is from a black man’s view?

Y-Love:  Well, yeshiva is, from anyone’s point of view, a place of intense daily Jewish learning.  Being black, however, there’s a different aspect — yeshiva is supposed to be an enclosed environment, away from the secular world outside.  That also, practically, means away from 99.99% of black people.  In Ashkenazi (European-style) yeshivos, there is often only one black student per year in the yeshiva.  When you find a 2nd black person in the study hall, you instantly bond with them out of necessity.  (Many European Jews don’t understand this).  When I was in yeshiva there was one black kid who was biracial and, since he could pass for it, he used to tell people he was Israeli and front like he didn’t speak English.   I tried to link up with him as the only other black guy in the yeshiva (I only found out he was black because one of the rabbis told me), and he wouldn’t admit to me that he was black, and fronted in front of me also.  I was very hurt by that — being black in yeshiva there’s a certain feeling of being an ‘outsider’ that never goes away totally, and finding other black people in yeshiva is very key to getting over that.  Then again, he treated his own father the same way, so…

RubyHornet: Tell us about the label you’re on.

Y-Love: Modular Moods Records/Shemspeed Entertainment is the brainchild of my manager Erez Safar.  He and I met in Ohr Somayach yeshiva in Israel in 2000, and he was there — three buildings over from my dorm building — when I wrote my first rhymes back in yeshiva.  I’m sure I could get attention from major corporate labels at this point — but there’s a huge advantage to working with someone who I’ve known literally almost my entire Jewish life (I converted in 2000).  

RubyHornet:  Where you did you start rhyming?

Y-Love:  I started rhyming in yeshiva in Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem in 2000.  My learning partner and I used Hip Hop as a way to memorize Talmud and to make the Scriptures and Talmud come alive.  Between music and acting out the cases, we were memorizing and learning to the point that we rose 4 levels in yeshiva in the time in which study pairs usually go up one or two levels.   Obviously not everyone in yeshiva took well to this, but the proof is in the learning — I can still remember some cases I learned 8 years ago.
RubyHornet:  Do you think there is a slanted view…against Jews in Hip Hop, or more embracing?
Y-Love:  I think that, for all of Eminem’s sales, for all the love Jin got on 106 & Park, for all the love and sales given at International Hip Hop festivals like Trinity, I think there is still a slanted view against anything non-black and non-Latino in Hip Hop.  Even Eminem complained of being called “some wigger who’s just trying to be black”, meaning that making Hip Hop is still, in the eyes of many non-black people, “trying to be black” and this is often not counteracted by the Hip Hop community.  This explains the slanted view against Jews in Hip Hop, Jews have been making Hip Hop since Hip Hop has been made, from the Beastie Boys to MC Serch to Nonphixion, and yet people are still talking about “Jews borrowing other people’s culture”. Not that Jews suffer for this, Jews are among the most successful rappers of all time.  Jews’ contributions to Hip Hop as Jews (not just as white rappers) is rarely touched on, though…Now, all that applies for white Jews.  For me, I find that there’s this attitude of “Jews are supposed to be white” that I have to counteract when I get on stage in front of a new audience.  Often, to some audiences, I’m respected as an MC before I’m taken seriously as a Jew.
RubyHornet:  So you perform overseas a lot?

Y-Love:  Yea.  From Ukraine to the UK to France and Germany, next South Africa and Australia, G-d willing.
RubyHornet:  What languages do you rap in that bring you to places like that?

Y-Love:  Well in France I did my intro in French, and I can speak Yiddish which helps me in German.  I can also read Dutch b/c of that, and so I’d probably be able to understand written Afrikaans.  Usually I rhyme in my same language mix:  English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Aramaic, Arabic, and Latin — all holy languages in the world.
RubyHornet:  Can you describe yourself in 5 words?

Y-Love:  Change the world through unity.
RubyHornet:  6-1-3 is not your area code….can you tell us what that means?
Finally someone asks!  🙂  I’ve had people be like “oh wow, are you from Ottawa?”  613 is the number of commandments in the Torah.  There are 365 negative commandments (“you shall not”) and 248 positive commandments (“you shall/must”).  There are a lot of deeper meanings to the number 613 but I’ll leave it at that.  Any time you see the number 613 in an email address, for instance, chances are the person is Jewish. 

RubyHornet:  There is kind of an electro sound to your Hip Hop…is that the Baltimore in you?

Y-Love:  Ha! I wish 🙂  The Baltimore in me wants club beats!  I wish we had more Bmore beats, but to get that I’d need producers who actually grew up in Bmore.  Jake Break, who produced my album, grew up in Maryland so I guess that’s close enough to get the sound :). 
RubyHornet:  Any side jobs, or strictly revolution?

Y-Love:  On the side I do tech — write code and develop websites and applications for cellphones.  Programmer, not designer.
RubyHornet:  Who would you collaborate with..Brother Ali? what would it be  about?

Y-Love:  I would collab with Brother Ali, he is a ridiculously sick MC with a phat flow, but ideally I would like to do a political track with Immortal Technique.  Like a “3rd World” remix.  He and I differ on some political topics and I think it would be phat to do a debate with him spoken word and then a collab track.  He is one of the main MC’s, I believe, bringing the world revolution to the streets through Hip Hop.

RubyHornet:   Fill in the blanks…

Naughty by Nature is down with OPP.  RUN DMC is down with the king. Y-Love is down with you.   NYC is the best city for being underground (with anything).  Chicago is the best city for finding cool people even in the shadiest of areasRubyHornet is a website that gives you mad information on superstars like Obama and Jay-Z who change the world for a living and use words about empowering yourself and sometimes chill in front of LCD TVs for fun, all while looking phat on a black background.
RubyHornet:  What is your album and where can we get it?

Y-Love:  This is Babylon, the debut album is in stores everywhere.  The Change EP comes out Inauguration Day, G-d willing, and then spring/summer 2009 the follow-up album This Is Unity is coming out.

RubyHornet:  What is the best song…( I specifically like “6000”) wait now that i mention it…please describe the meaning of “6000”.

  The year 6000 on the Jewish calendar, it is written, is the “deadline” for the Messiah to come (this year is 5769).  If you look at Scripture, the “end of days” scenarios (Isaiah, Daniel 11-12, Zachariah, etc) generally fall into one of two categories:  world peace (Isaiah, “no more will nations lift swords up against each other”) or world war/chaos (Armageddon, war of Gog & Magog in Ezekiel, etc).  It is written that if we improve ourselves, return to G-d, improve the world, then the End of Days (which will ultimately be a time of world peace anyway) can be ushered in peacefully.  Whenever we do this, the Messiah will come and the end of days will begin…Otherwise, we have to wait until 6000.  If we have to wait until 6000, that means we have said, “we don’t want to imporve ourselves and get rid of our own evil, G-d, You get rid of the evil amongst us” and that’s when millions of ppl will have to die via world war/chaos/starvation/natural disasters.  The world will continually deteriorate and death and war will continue and escalate until up to the majority of the world’s population has died, followed by 6000 at which point the actual End of Days will begin…My song 6000 is saying, “this is 6000!  don’t let it get worse than this! we can’t let it get worse than this!  look at scripture then look at the news — do you think this is a joke or a rehearsal?  look at what’s happening!  do you want it to get WORSE?  fight jihad — the struggle against evil — inside yourself!  fight the evil inside yourself and improve yourself!  this is the main revolution!  love, unity, the pursuit of justice, and the reduction of prejudice can turn the entire path of the world around!  let’s bring the world redemption and peace and perfection of humanity now!”
RubyHornet:  Can you plug all your shout outs and web sites…and  where we can buy your stuff!!

Y-Love:  One love!  Shout out to Modular and shout out to fam from Baltimore to Brooklyn. Dig my music on www.ylovemusic.com, and dig my thoughts on www.thisisbabylon.net.  Use Hip Hop to elevate not to tranquilize.