MUSIC: Yoni brings Jewish hip-hop to Crosstown
It isn't very often that Grand Forks has a live rap performance, let alone a politically conscious Jewish hip-hop and reggae artist. But it's happening tonight as Yoni Reinharz joins Jon Wayne and the Pain on the Crosstown Lounge stage. The music...
It isn't very often that Grand Forks has a live rap performance, let alone a politically conscious Jewish hip-hop and reggae artist.
But it's happening tonight as Yoni Reinharz joins Jon Wayne and the Pain on the Crosstown Lounge stage. The music starts at 10 p.m., and the $5 cover charge includes a free drink.
Here's how Yoni described his upbringing, style and future plans:
Q. How did you first get interested in music, and when did you know you wanted to do this as a career and not just a hobby?
A. I started playing guitar and writing songs at age 9. A year later, I knew music was what I wanted to do.
Q. How would you describe your musical style, and what message do you try to send with your lyrics?
A. I'd like to think that I fuse varying styles of hip-hop, soul, blues and reggae into a unique sound that transcends the sum of its parts. Lyrically, I write from the perspective of a quiet but astute observer. I like to paint a picture with words, to evoke a feeling and ideally some thought. I try to avoid saying "I," "We" or "You" too often. I try not to tell people what they do or should do. I think many lyricists write from a perspective of who they want to be -- enlightened, intelligent, aware. I am just a little more honest by admitting in song the fact that I'm still trying to get to where, what and who I want to be, as an artist and as a person.
Q. You grew up in St. Louis Park, a largely Jewish suburb of Minneapolis. How big of a role did that upbringing play in your music?
A. I grew up in a musical family, and culturally a very Jewish family. St. Louis Park was a hidden bastion of musical talent in my era. Much of this was fueled by Lance Strickland who taught Jazzlab. Jazzlab literally changed our lives. It single-handedly saved countless kids from flunking out of high school and turned rap kids and metal heads alike into jazz heads.
Q. You appeared on Matisyahu's "Live at Stubbs" record, one of the best-selling live reggae albums of all time. What was that experience like?
A. It was incredible. I did Matisyahu's first tour out of New York in a rusty van; three months later we did "Live at Stubbs"; two months after that it went gold. It could only be described as a meteoric rise. Since, I've played 40-plus shows with him, 15 of which with rock giants 311, and had the absolute honor of having him featured on my album "End of an Era." I feel so fortunate to have met him. I guess it was just in the cards as they say.
Q. How's the Minneapolis music scene for an artist like you? Is there a decent fan base for your kind of music?
A. The music scene is incredible in the Twin Cities. As for my place within it, it's similar to the conundrum of explaining my style of music. I sing too much for hip-hoppers, I rap too much for jam band kids. I don't fit the mold, but there are quite a lot of us who break the mold and at every show, there are at least a few people who are really moved. That's why I'm so excited to get back out on the road to find those like minds.
Q. What are you working on for 2010?
A. I'm planning to tour a lot more to promote "End of an Era" and connect with folks. I'm also working on a new album with Cecil Otter of Doomtree Strange Famous Records, which I'll be debuting some material from on this tour.
Q. What's your goal for a live performance? What do you want people to walk away with?
A. I don't like to tell people what to do, "put your hands in the air, say this say that, everybody scream," I just want people to have fun and utilize my music the best way they know how. Some wanna dance, some just want a soundtrack to their evening, I want to satisfy them and everyone in between.