The Next Big Half-Jewish Hip Hop Star?

Aubrey Graham, AKA “Drake,” a former star of Degrassi: The Next Generation, is apparently about to be bigger than the Beatles, Elvis and Michael Jackson combined, if you are to believe this hyperbolic story in the Toronto Star. He hasn’t released an album yet, but Kanye West has directed his video, he’s touring with Lil Wayne this summer and he’s going to appear on a new single from Jay-Z.

We reprinted a profile of Graham a few years ago. His father, an African-American, is a musician, and his Jewish mother is an educator. While marketers are now calling him “the Derek Jeter of rap,” he didn’t date while attending a tony Toronto high school:

“It was very awkward,” he said. “I never had a girlfriend. Not one of those girls would bring me home. It would be too risky.”

In this blog post from Cosmogirl!, Graham writes about how he received a home gym for Hanukkah from his mother and grandmother because “my grandmother says I am too skinny to be a rapper.” The post also implies that Graham identifies as Jewish himself.

Will Graham–ahem, Drake–join the Beastie Boys in the tiny fraternity of nice Jewish boys who’ve become stars in hip hop? We’ll find out when his first official album debuts later this year.

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6 thoughts on “The Next Big Half-Jewish Hip Hop Star?

  1. I don’t understand something: you are either Jewish or you are not. What is this “half Jewish”????? Under Jewish law if your mother is Jewish ,you are Jewish. Sometimes I wonder about this website and think that there is another agenda and it is not to promote Judaism. I think that somebody has to say this! To be honest, sometimes I find these threads to be thoroughly depressing!

  2. I found this thread depressing and very offensive. Part of the reason why Aubrey is interested in rapping if you had done your homework isn’t due to the fact he’s Jewish. Aubrey is half African-American. He is the nephew of African-American musicians Teenie Hodges and Larry Graham. They have extensive contacts in the music industry. Doesn’t the African-American community deserve credit on this one Micah?

    I find it so disgusting that you didn’t mention the fact he’s part African-American. Why are you white washing a Jew of color? What you did was unforgivable.

  3. To MixedJewGirl: The second sentence of the second paragraph says: “His father, an African-American, is a musician, and his Jewish mother is an educator.” I was unaware that he had extensive contacts in the music industry. I read several pieces on him and the only family member with musical connections I ever saw mentioned was his father. Also, I may not have been explicit enough–and the lack of a picture didn’t help–but the whole point of the quote from high school was to point out that an African-American teenager faced social stigma dating white girls.

    To Mina: Under Jewish law as it is understood by one part of the Jewish community, yes, you are only Jewish if your mother is Jewish. But according to another, larger part of the Jewish community, you are Jewish if one of your parents is Jewish and you are raised Jewish.

    In the various articles, where Graham has discussed his Jewishness, he’s never been explicit about whether he sees himself as Jewish, or whether he was raised exclusively Jewish. As much as it may not make sense to you, more and more people view themselves as “half-Jewish”; you can choose to tell them their identification is illegitimate–and alienate them–or you can accept their self-definition at face value.

  4. Mina-
    Judaism is a religion but it is also considered an ethnicity as well. When people are referred to as half-Jewish, they are usually referring to the fact that one parent is Jewish. Even if a person was born to two Jewish parents, they may choose to do nothing that is Jewish, in which case I don’t consider them religiously Jewish, but I would consider them ethnically Jewish.

  5. I just find this kind of article to be very condescending both to Jews (and yes, I mean “Jews” – not half Jews, not quarter Jews, not my great great great grandfather was a Jew) and to African Americans. I’m with Mixed Girl on this one!

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