Kosha Dillz delivers hip-hop for Jews, non-Jews

Kosha Dillz, a Jewish rapper from New Jersey, will perform in St. Louis on Thursday, Nov. 8.

By Eric Berger, staff writer

When Mac Miller died on Sept. 7, it meant that there was one less Jewish rapper in the world. There was also one less Jewish rapper who had struggled with addiction; Miller died of drug overdose at age 26.

Kosha Dillz, the son of Israeli parents, could relate to Miller on a number of dif- ferent levels — Dillz is also a recovering drug addict.

“You go through a lot of the same things,” said Dillz, whose real name is Rami Even-Esh. “You’re a Jewish kid and wanting to be accepted in hip-hop culture.”

The two wished others a “Happy Passover” in a 2012 YouTube video in one among many examples of Dillz embracing the Jewish religion and culture. But despite the name, Dillz continues to maintain a somewhat confusing connection to the religion.


In talking with Jewish people, Dillz said, he is often asked, “Is it a Jewish song? It’s not; just because my name is Kosha Dillz doesn’t make it a Jewish song.”

Dillz will have an opportunity to show St. Louis what his music is really about on Thursday, Nov. 8 at Fubar. It’s part of his “Nobody Cares Except You Tour.”

Dillz, who has collaborated with Matisyahu and members of Wu Tang Clan and had his music featured in a popular Bud Light Super Bowl ad, has regularly performed shows in Israel and in other Jewish contexts. He visits the Jewish State once or twice a year.

“I love the Israeli music; I think there is so much talent over there, it’s insane, but unfortunately, the music industry over there is crappy. I performed over there and it took me eight months to get paid,” said Dillz, 37. He loves to “help Israeli artists in America” and has previously organized a showcase for them at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

Dillz has also performed at the Night of the Synagogues festival in a synagogue in Krakow, Poland, an event aimed at building Jewish pride. He gave a TEDx talk at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow. He also participated in a 55-mile bike ride from the Auschwitz extermination camp to Krakow and filmed a music video for a song, “So Many People,” in Poland about the Holocaust.

“Learn stories from the synagogue, temple/ looking for a miracle to find my inner Israel. Imagine systematic death is hard to grasp if you’ve never had it happen to you,” his lyrics state.

Despite an openness about his appreciation for Israeli music and Jewish history, Dillz appears to maintain some distance from the religion artistically. His rap name, for example, was originally just a “ploy to keep me connected,” to the Jewish community, he said.

And even though he says, “Jewish kids love hip-hop,” he think Jews who come to his shows generally are there for the “experience” and to support a Jewish artist, rather than for the music itself.

“That’s what makes us very special as people,” said Dillz, who is from New Jersey, adding that he’s been sober for 14 years.

Dillz had one more opportunity to connect with the Jewish community at a difficult moment when he performed in Pittsburgh on Saturday, one week after the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in the city. The next morning, he visited the synagogue.

“I dedicated the show to the people of Pittsburgh,” he wrote in a text message to the Jewish Light. “I have been dedicating my show frequently to the people that aren’t here.”

Kosha Dillz concert

WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 8, Doors 6:30 p.m./ show 7 p.m.

WHERE: Fubar Lounge, 3108 Locust St.


MORE INFO: Purchase tickets at Fubarstl.com.