Today on Nextbook, I wrote an article about the brilliant Motown funk of the Israeli colony of Dimona, a Hasidic hip-hop duo with their own soul band, and Matisyahu's new opening act, who isn't Jewish (actually, he's from Somalia, currently residing in Toronto) but whose name, K'naan, sort of has a Biblical ring to it, and whose mind-bogglingly good song "In the Beginning" definitely does. Click here to download the track, or listen to a bunch of stuff and read the whole article:
Dimona is a small village in the Negev, half an hour south of Beersheva. It’s an incredibly small town, less than three square miles, and since it’s in the middle of the Israeli desert, it doesn’t get much in the way of tourists. Mostly, Dimona is known for two things: its nuclear power plant, and its community of Black Hebrews, a group of African-American émigrés who left Chicago, followed the revolutionary leader Marcus Garvey to Liberia, and ended up immigrating en-masse to Israel in the late 1960s.
The community is featured sporadically in Jewish newspapers, mostly as a wacky story about unconventional Israeli immigrants. The thing most reporters don’t usually write about, however, is the town of Dimona’s unlikely profusion of pop and soul singles in the 1970s.
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