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Socalled

Whereas some artists can be said to defy expectations, Montreal-based klezmer eclecticist Socalled explodes all expectations with his music. A dedicated crate-digger, he unearths obscure and strange links to his Jewish heritage, and mixes them in to his uniquely urban musical world, drawing from hip-hop one moment, old-school funk the next, and whatever piques his interest at the moment. But throughout his experiments, he always manages to stay close to his roots in Jewish klezmer music. Whether playing accordion and rapping with master clarinetist David Krakauer, Yiddish singer Theodore Bikel, or even Wu-Tang rapper Killah Priest, Socalled brings a reverence for ancient traditions to an insanely diverse worldview.

Klezmer-hip hop maestro Socalled is a musician, producer, composer, arranger, magician, filmmaker, photographer and visual artist. He grew up taking piano lessons and loving funk and hip hop, but when Socalled first heard klezmer music on an old Yiddish record, he was fascinated by the cool sounds he could sample to make hip hop beats. Then he realized that integrating this Jewish music from the 1930s into his songs was a way of representing himself and his cultural heritage. It enabled him bring something of his own to funk and hip hop, giving him what he calls "a real reason to make music."