By day, Glenn Fuchs is an art director for a local advertising agency. He spends his time overseeing campaigns designed to sell healthcare products. But when the Hillsborough native isn’t busy formulating new concepts or pitching ideas, he sheds his everyman corporate image and becomes the Hip Hop Hebrew.
This unassuming ad man, who works in Parsippany, has actually issued two rap albums under the alias of Kid Kosher. His first, an ode to Hanukka, was recently followed by Live from the Tanakh, an eight-song collection that serves as a syncopated guide to Jewish history and customs.
“I was always into break-dancing and the whole hip-hop scene while growing up,” says Fuchs, 35, who now lives in Brick with his wife and two daughters. “I saw kids break-dancing to Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rocket’ in the school lunchroom, and I wanted to learn how to do that.”
Fuchs is certainly not the first white suburbanite to embrace the urban sounds of hip-hop with the aim of making the music his own. Moreover, earlier generations did the same thing with jazz and blues, furthering the transformation of genres that were originated by, and closely identified with, African-Americans.
“The urge of sheltered suburban kids to turn to abrasive, foreign music from rock to punk to techno as an outlet for their own frustrations and fantasies is almost as old as the suburbs themselves,” writes journalist Jason Tanz, in his new book, Other People’s Property: A Shadow History of Hip-Hop In White America.
Fuchs never shelved the desire, but various efforts, during and after his college years, didn’t click. But one December, walking through a shopping mall with a friend and hearing lots of Christmas music, his companion convinced him to pull together some material for Hanukka. Suddenly, his hobby got him noticed.
“At that point, I wasn’t really doing anything musically,” says Fuchs, who grew up in a Reform household. “We were just two guys trying it out. But it got us some attention, in part, I think, because the music is clean there’s no cursing, no violence, no offensive material. And the subject matter is okay for kids and grown-ups.”
Indeed, his wordplay is catchy and instructive on “Please Pass Over,” which, as the name implies, tells the Passover story, and “Shabbat Shalom,” in which he walks listeners through his feelings about the day of rest. He also has a keen sense of humor, such as on “My Kind of Goy,” a track devoted to his friend, Chris Colaneri, a jazz musician who urged him on in his musical pursuits.
So far, Fuchs has performed about a dozen times in public, his albums have sold a few hundred copies, and he’s appeared live on 101.5 FM. And as an advertising professional, he’s no stranger to self-promotion he maintains www.kidkosher.net and a site on myspace.com.
He harbors a dream that a major label will sign him and promote an album. Meanwhile, Fuchs is content to use his hobby as both a creative outlet and a means to getting a message across.
“Most people think of Jewish rappers as schmaltzy, not an educated, hip Jewish guy who uses the music to tell people about holidays and traditions. But there are a lot of kids out there…who tend to lose focus. And if they’re losing touch, what better way to connect them to their history than to tell stories through music they listen to?”
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