Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
7/8/2004 7:36:33 AM
Tags and topics realted to this article include Wu-Tang Clan.
Though he won his fame rapping with the likes of RZA, Method Man, Raekwon the Chef, Ghostface Killah, and Ol' Dirty Bastard, Ross Filler is keeping different company this week. Filler – far better known as Remedy, sole Jewish member of top American rap group The Wu-Tang Clan – is here in Israel this week as a member of a birthright israel follow-up mission, Oranim Ambassadors, to learn more about Israel advocacy,
It's not his first trip to Israel, but it's a far different from his visit last summer, in which Remedy and fellow Wu-Tang clansman Killah Priest (a.k.a. Walter Reed) did a concert tour here playing sold-out shows at clubs in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
"Since last year's trip, I've been gathering my thoughts and I decided to really get committed to Judaism and to Israel," says the 32-year-old MC, who was joined at the Neveh Ilan Resort Hotel just outside of Jerusalem on Wednesday by the 30-member group of 18-to-27-year-old Jews from the US and Canada.
Remedy, like most of the African-American members of the Wu-Tang Clan, grew up in Staten Island, New York. He says he was raised in a traditional Jewish home until his parents divorced when he was eight.
"Once my parents got divorced, I had a bar mitzva, but did I really know [what that meant]? I always knew Israel was here, but did I really know?"
Already writing songs and poems as a child, Remedy started taken his rhyming skills to the stage at local shows while attending New Dorp High School with other future Wu-Tang members. In 1992 he met Wu-Tang leader RZA (Robert Diggs) at a local recording studio. Impressed with Remedy's lyrical and production abilities, RZA took him on as a collaborator just as the Wu-Tang Clan emerged as one of the most popular and revolutionary rap groups of the 1990s.
It wasn't just their music – which exposed the violent crime, drugs, and poverty of Staten Island's rougher neighborhoods. Wu-Tang also blazed new commercial concepts for rappers by spinning off money-making sidelines, such as a clothing line, Wu-Wear, and a series of collaborative albums with outside rap artists.
Remedy was also making a name for himself with a trademark song about the Holocaust, "Never Again," featured on Wu-Tang's 1998 Gold album, Wu-Tang Killer Bee, The Swarm.
"When I released 'Never Again' six years ago, I didn't really know what Zionism was about," he says. "I knew some customs and traditions of Judaism, but I didn't really follow it and wasn't involved with it. But, since I came to Israel I have been trying to study and learn as much as I can. It's one of my continuing missions to learn more and more about Judaism, and I would definitely say that I have become an even bigger Zionist."
Momo Lifshitz, CEO of Oranim, took notice of Remedy during the concert tour last summer and invited him to participate in the Ambassadors trip; he jumped at the opportunity to return.
The Ambassadors program is for Oranim birthright israel alumni who become active in Jewish issues, and convince five-to-10 peers to sign up for birthright israel trips through the Oranim tour provider.
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