On Thursday, September 14, the Black-Jewish Entertainment Alliance (BJEA) hosted a panel discussion featuring rapper, actor, television host and radio personality Xzibit; his manager Steve Rifkind (also founder of Loud Records); rapper Layzie Bone from Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony; his manager Steve Lobel (also CEO of We Working and Lobel Music Group); and rapper Mazik (one-half of hip-hop duo Blood of Abraham, now Head of Creative at Beatclub). The event, held at the Recording Academy offices in Santa Monica, was moderated by culture critic and commentator Justin Hunte.
The BJEA was created to bridge the two communities, helping to better understand each other’s histories and provide much needed allyship. To illustrate how hip-hop and Jewish themes intersected, Hunte reminded those in attendance that rapper Eazy-E, a founding member of N.W.A, signed Blood of Abraham. “This was foresight,” said Hunte. “To have that unity at that point in time to me is what hip-hop truly is.”
Blood of Abraham stood apart for identifying as Jewish, using its music as a call to action for the Black and Jewish communities to unite in the face of racism and discrimination. Eazy-E was a feature on their biggest song in 1993, along with will.i.am, who would later shout “mazel Tov” in the Black Eyed Peas Hit “I Gotta Feeling.”
Blood of Abraham’s Mazik recounted a hilarious story of when Eazy-E threw a game truce night at what is now 1OAK on Sunset Blvd. “It was literally Bloods and Crips, and the name of our group was Blood of Abraham,” he said, eliciting laughter. “Eazy was the host and he never wrote ‘B.’ He’d write our name but cross out the ‘B’ every time.”
In fact, Eazy-E used to take Blood of Abraham to the Slauson Swap Meet, the only place they could get their hats embroidered. Said Mazik: “We had Hebrew on the side of our hats. In New York at that time, the cats told me you couldn’t get it, so people were coming up to us. We were lucky. And the video [for ‘Satbbed by the Steeple’] had legs of its own because we were the first rap group to ever be in Israel. It was all about finding God in whatever path you take.”
“What kept me engaged in music was somebody that cared about my career, even more than me,” Layzie continued. “Steve Lobel cared, that’s what makes him a manager. Not because he’s a good motherfucker with a couple dollars, it’s because he really cares about the artists he worked with.”
Added Lobel: “This my brother for real. … But it is very uncommon that a white Caucasian Jew is with an African-American group for 30 years. I’ve been through hell and back with them. They’re my brothers and my friends.”