Unlike other Jewish rappers such as the Beastie Boys, who don't make much of their heritage, or 2 Live Jews, who continue to explore new boundaries of kitsch, Remedy deftly tackles such formidable issues as the Holocaust, racism, and religious persecution.
And unlike other Jewish rappers, he is the only white member of the Staten Island-based Wu-Tang Clan's "extended family," a testimony to a curious relationship between a Jew and the Muslim members of Wu-Tang. "I represent humanity," he says in a phone interview. "And Wu taught me a lot, changed me a lot. We have similar struggles."
You can witness first-hand this unusual spin on rap when Remedy comes to Boca Raton this Wednesday for a "Behind the Music"-style lecture/performance.
Best-known for his unforgettable and powerful Holocaust-themed song "Never Again," which was featured on the hit 1998 album The Swarm, Vol. 1: RZA Presents Wu-Tang Killa Bees, Remedy mixes hip-hop and Judaica from the heart. He crafted "Never Again" after discovering that the Nazis executed his great uncle and killed the rest of his family in the gas chambers. The song samples the sounds of a Hebrew blessing of the wine and the Israeli National Anthem in the background and delivers with a punch Remedy's moving message about the Holocaust. You don't have to be Jewish to feel shivers as you listen to his rhymes:
"Never again shall we march like sheep to the slaughter/Never again leave our sons and daughters/Never again shall our children be/Stripped of our culture, robbed of our names/Raped of our freedom and thrown in the flames/Forced from our families, taken from our homes/Pulled from our God and burned of our bones/Never again."
Remedy believes that Holocaust education in the United States and the world is far from sufficient. "Everyone knows who Hitler was," he says, "but not many know what really happened there at the Holocaust." He seems determined to correct the situation in the best way he can -- through rap -- and argues that kids really listen to his songs and learn.
Born Ross Filler, Remedy grew up on Staten Island, where he was frequently the target of racist taunts. "At first, I tried to hide that I was Jewish," he says. "People would make fun of me all the time. But in the end, it motivated me even more. I am proud of who I am, my people, and what they stand for."
At this week's event, Remedy intends to perform "Never Again" and a few songs from his upcoming album, Exodus, as well as to discuss his Jewish reawakening and his unique relationship with Wu-Tang.