The Guardian

Nissim Baruch Black: the rapper who gave up bling for Jewish redemption

The former drug dealer tells of his journey from a tough Seattle neighbourhood to an ultra-orthodox family life in Jerusalem
Rapper Nissim Baruch Black performing onstage in his everyday black hat and coat.

Once he rapped about gangs, guns and drugs. But since swapping his gold jewellery for a black hat, the message of Nissim Baruch Black’s music has been one of hope and redemption.

Black, who grew up in a tough neighbourhood in Seattle and was selling drugs by the age of 12, now lives in the most uncompromising ultra-orthodox Jewish area of Jerusalem as a devout family man who reads the Torah, keeps kosher and strictly observes the sabbath.

Surprisingly, he is still a rapper. He is working on an album, (meaning strong in Hebrew) and performed in New York’s Times Square on Saturday as part of a world tour that ends in London next year. His stage outfit (ritual fringes), with (sidecurls) hanging beneath his hat. In his former persona, D-Black, he was flanked by scantily dressed women as he rapped; now, in an hour-long meeting, he did not once make eye contact with me (“Please don’t be offended,” urged his producer).

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