|Original Release Date||Mar 21, 2012|
Hip-hop group Shtar has been defying stereotypes ever since its inception inside the walls of rabbinical college. Consisting of Brad Rubinstein (producer and songwriter), Ori Murray(hip hop lyricist), Dan Issac (vocalist), Avi Sommers (bassist), and Tzvi Solomons(drummer), Shtar boasts a unique blend of hip-hop and rock with lyrics grounded in spiritually elevating themes. They have already garnered fans from all denominations as a tight live band that could easily rival veteran acts like The Roots.
Shtar’s distinct sound draws on their impressive and diverse musical backgrounds. Before relocating to Israel, Rubinstein was a sought-after musician around London’s buzzing music scene. Most notably he served as guitarist, songwriter and producer in the band Lisp, who were signed to London Records (The Rolling Stones, All Saints, New Order). Meanwhile, Murray was quickly gaining popularity as a resident MC and master of the spoken word in his hometown of Seattle; Dan Issac was honing his vocal skills with distinct influences from his Middle Eastern cantorial background; Sommers and Solomons were building their live chops by performing at music festivals around Israel. On a spiritual journey to explore their Jewish heritage, they individually gravitated to Jerusalem, Israel, where they found a profound source of creative inspiration. Eager to combine their musical talents with this new spiritual focus, they formed Shtar (Hebrew for “contract,” the foremost indicator of acquisition in Jewish law).
Their expert fusion of a wide range of music genres shows itself throughout Infinity. The title track, as well as current single “Restoring My Soul (Modeh),” have drawn comparisons to the Gorillaz, while “Adon Olam” has an R&B groove and “Ashrei” echoes Beck with its lo-fi, distorted funk sound. Issac’s vocals color the songs “Kel Adon” and “Nagila” with haunting Middle Eastern inflections. In addition to hip-hop and rock centered tracks, Shtar present a more tender side on “Oseh” and “Shira Chadasha,” acoustic numbers which highlight the band’s melodic prowess. Blending in with these various styles, Ori Murray’s deft, cerebral rhymes command the listener’s attention. “There’s a beacon sign / Plant the seed in time/ And the tree will climb,” he raps with conviction on “Tikun Olam”.
With their universally engaging songs, Shtar shatter the preconception that being religious Jews and making hip hop music are mutually exclusive endeavours. “It’s not a contradiction in our eyes. The music…is an expression of who we are,” Ori said in an interview on Israeli TV show Hakol Tarbut. Having toured extensively around Israel and England, Shtar’s widely diverse audiences attest to the band’s ability to transcend labels. Infinity will no doubt propel them further to global acclaim.