No Nose Job

Bilingual hip-hop hebes sling jokes and lassos across borders

The gaucho, the tough, half-breed cowboy of Argentine lore, once ruled the pampas, and the Jews landing there a century ago wanted a piece of it. Los Gauchos Judíos—Alberto Gerchunoff's takeoff on Cervantes, the Yiddish folktale, and assimilationist fantasy—dreamed of Jewish rope-slingers who likely never existed. And if they did, their horse days were short-lived: As the saying in Argentina's Jewish colonies went, "We planted wheat, and grew doctors."

The self-described Latino-Jewish hip-hop collective Hip Hop Hoodíos' Agua pa' la Gente name-drops the gaucho judío and, like Gerchunoff, wants to rap about the pre-Inquisition love affair Jews had with Spanish, which the writer saw as a homecoming for exiled Jews to the golden age. The Hoodíos' "1492," a preachier track on an album best when it embraces its own absurdity, also claims that home, although judging by the accent, it's got an address closer to Brooklyn than Buenos Aires.

Agua pa' la Gente's robust upgrade of klezmer, Latin alternative, and dance beats takes the boilerplate hip-hop beats and smartass quips several notches above novelty. Who knows why Federico Fong of Mexican grunge-metal faves Jaguares deigned to be the Hoodíos' shabbes goy, doing what the Jews cannot do for themselves? Good thing he did, since his hoarse, mellowing backup lyrics on "Gorrito Cósmico" (which also sports one of the album's truly inspired hooks) offset the slightly nasal rapping.

Raunchy, fun loving, and calculatingly polyglot, a sort of Beatnuts for the Upper West Side, the Hoodíos parody well—the form, but especially themselves. An unnatural obsession with Jewish noses (and the stubborn insistence that someone finds them erotic—"You like our dicks/and you like our noses/ya see a Jewish guy and you forget where your clothes is") reaches a pinnacle in the raucous, shout-along chorus of "Nose Jobs" (as in: no more of them, please). When the Hoodíos talk about the honeys in bagel bras who want to play with their dreidels, you have to believe that they're kidding. Right?


Hip Hop Hoodíos play Makor October 8.

 
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