I admit that rap/hip hop is not my favorite genre of music. I don't have a bias against the type of music itself, but rather I have come to distance myself from it because of how it has become so closely associated with negative subjects, foul language, mistreatment of women, condoning violence and drug use, among other things.
For me, music should be positive, inspiring, and meaningful. Everyone has their own specific tastes and each person connects to different things, which is why there needs to be different types of music to suit the interests and needs of many different kinds of people. Using music to promote causes and ideas that are harmful or offensive seems like a misuse of this gift.
Prodezra opened my eyes to the positive potential of rap/hip hop. In particular, the song "Liora," which is a tribute to Prodezra's wife, as well as Jewish women as a whole. I found the song to be refreshing and inspiring as it proudly proclaims positive messages about women, in stark contrast to all of the garbage out there in the secular music world that is misogynistic and insulting to women.
It seems like there is an increasing interest in this burgeoning field within Jewish music, and some of the artists are, like Prodezra, African-American converts. I think there are two major beneficial points from this development:
1) People who may have become acculturated to popular rap/hip hop music, whether raised religious or largely unaffiliated, now have a "kosher" outlet to enjoy that style of music instead of hearing nivul peh and harmful messages.
2) The horizon of Jewish culture is being broadened and becoming more inclusive. I think it's wonderful for people of different backgrounds who become part of the Jewish people to enhance our understanding and approach to the world. We can always learn something from everyone around us, especially from those who may be different from us. A ger tzedek is every bit a Jew like anyone born Jewish, but their previous experiences can be utilized to help create their own unique Jewish identity, as well as positively influence others to be broader minded and learn new things and new perspectives that they otherwise would never have reached on their own. This is a similar phenomenon to ba'alei teshuva who don't reject their past, but instead draw from their previous life to give more meaning to their practice of Judaism.
Prodezra happens to be a friend of mine, and I can attest that he is a wonderful, spiritually in-tune guy, a family man, and someone who cares about helping his fellow Jew through learning and inspiring others with his music. Unlike secular rappers who boast about their personal talents and how they are the best, most talented, wealthiest, strongest, or whatever other stupidly egotistical claim they can think of, Prodezra attributes all his talents and success as blessings from G-d. He draws inspiration for his music from Torah sources and Chassidus (notably Chabad). His message is positive and worth paying attentive to.
His musical tagline, "Beats L'shem Shamayim" couldn't be a more appropriate appellation for his work.
Here are a few other of the many songs Prodezra has created and uploaded on Youtube.
"Proud To Be"
"Where Are You? (24/7"
Prodezra also composes beats featuring other artists.
"Let Me In" featuring Nachman
The famous song "Change" featuring Y-Love and Describe.
Prodezra also produces instrumental songs:
"Ein Od Milvado"
As seen previously on this blog, Prodezra was also featured on G-dcast.
Check out more of Prodezra's music on Youtube, his website, Facebook. You can purchase his albums on iTunes and cdbaby
Ultimately, I think Prodezra's music might not be for everyone, but he certainly has a large audience which allows him to reach out and positively influence those who might not be otherwise interested in the more standard forms Jewish music.
I hope Prodezra continues to produce meaningful beats and songs that bring our distanced brothers and sisters back to their heritage, as well as opening up the ears, eyes, and minds of the rest of us to a broader appreciation of Jewish music and culture.