KEXP's Sound & Vision airs every Saturday morning from 7-9 AM PT, featuring interviews, artistry, commentary, insight, and conversation to that tell broader stories through music, and illustrate why music and art matter. You can also hear more stories in the new Sound & Vision Podcast. New episodes are out every Tuesday. Subscribe now.
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Rapper Nissim Black has taken a roundabout journey to where he is today – a 33 year old rapper living in Israel.
As a kid in Seattle, he was surrounded by musicians. His parents were members of the earliest hip hop groups in Seattle, the Emerald Street Boys and the Emerald Street Girls, and his grandparents worked with Quincy Jones and Ray Charles. However, his childhood was also troubled, his parents sold cocaine out of their house and his mom died of an overdose when Black was just 19.
His early music, under the moniker D Black, was harder and reflected his life in Seattle. Then, he began to question his Christian beliefs. He converted to Judaism, renounced his old music, changed his name to Nissim and eventually moved to Jerusalem. It was a change he never would’ve expected.
“I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, Seward Park,” says Black, “for most of my life. I didn't have any relationship with my Jewish neighbors, I used to walk to a synagogue every day to go to school and I used to use the synagogue parking lot for riding my bike. But I wasn't so connected.”
Sound & Vision host Emily Fox spoke with Black about his conversion to Judaism and how it changed his music.
On his parents dealing drugs and his own time in the drug trade:
On the death of his mother because of a drug overdose:
On his conversion to Judaism:
On moving with his family to Israel:
On how Judaism has changed his relationship to music:
The Emerald Street Boys' RC Jamerson looks back on his time in Seattle's first rap group.
Sound & Vision host Emily Fox caught up with Travis Thompson to talk about his new album Reckless Endangerment and his upbringing in the Seattle rap scene.
In this week's episode of Sound & Vision, the Seattle rapper shares how his experiences traveling impacted him personally and artistically.