So Called The So Called Seder

To paraphrase Yul Brynner: "so it has been written, so it shall be spun”. So Called, aka Montreal writer/musician Josh Dolgin, has successfully translated the basis of the Passover Seder text to a hip hop setting. Passover has all the elements of a block-rocking holiday: music, culture, call and response, a focus on "the youth,” food, and of course, intoxicants. Taking a sample-adelic production approach — and why not, when you’re mining grooves and sound bites from such rich vinyl source material — he re-contextualises the Passover Haggadah while staying absolutely true to its pace and content. The beats on this album are mostly very good, with frequently inspired moments like "3rd Cup” and the dubbed-up Matisyahu-voiced "Yahu.” The best rap contributions expand on ideas specific to Passover and use them as metaphors for universal struggle. "Ten Plagues” features a masterful cameo by Killah Priest, whose metaphysical flow perfectly fits the blood and fire of the plagues themselves. Certain tracks would have benefited from more focused productions — "Let My People Go” could have so much potential as an anthem for both Jews and Afro Americans, but just doesn’t nail down the beats. Even if The So Called Seder doesn’t hit a home run with every track, it should be a real conversation starter between kids and parents, which is the essence of Passover. Too bad he couldn’t get Snoop to rap about the consumption of bitter herbs, though. (JDub)