The Atlanta Jewish Music Festival will host Israeli hip hop artists Axum, Peled and Sagol 59 as they cover the Beastie Boys classic album “Licensed to Ill” March 18 at The Buckhead Theatre. ATL Collective is teaming up with AJMF to produce the performance.
Ahead of their performance, we caught up with Peled and Sagol 59 to discuss everything from Arab/Palestinian collaborations to pre-show spoilers.
How did you become involved with ATL Collective and the AJMF?
Sagol 59: Last year I performed in Atlanta with my Hebrew Grateful Dead project called The Promised Land. That’s when I hooked up with Russell Gottschalk and Drew Cohen, and they kindly invited me to this year’s AJMF to show another side of my career – that of a hip-hop emcee. I’ve had quite a long career as a rapper – something like 17 years so far, and I have performed several times in the U.S and Europe. I also toured the U.S when I was signed to Jewish New York based record label JDub Records.
Where is your home base?
Peled: We’re in Tel Aviv, and we made a small tour and vacation out of the trip.
Sagol 59: I’m coming especially for the show, and I’m continuing to do more shows on the East Coast during March.
Planning anything special for the performance?
Sagol 59: I will be doing songs spanning my entire career. A few of them got some serious airplay here in the last decade, stretching as far back as 2003. I will also probably do some joint freestyles with the other performers.
How long have you been performing?
Peled: I’ve been working as a solo artist for five years now, and I just released my second album this year “Hakol Alay” which translates to “Everything is on me”. I was happy to see it landed two songs in the local main charts so far.
Sagol 59: I started recording professionally around 1998, and my first album was the first ever album of an Israeli solo emcee. I’ve released seven albums so far, plus many other projects and collaborations with Israeli as well as foreign artists. Apart from the hip hop albums, I also released a blues album and a Hebrew language Grateful Dead tribute with singer-songwriter Ami Yares.
How big of a Beastie Boys fan are you?
Peled: Actually, Beastie Boys were the reason I started listening to Hip-Hop in the first place. I was listening to them even before I understood it fully. When I was younger, I was mostly into rock, and that scene was much stronger back then. When I first listened to Beastie Boys and how they had their own mash-up and style, it made me want to be a rapper and reinvent myself as they had back then.
Sagol 59: The Beastie Boys “Licensed to Ill” was one of the first rap records I owned, and I have many fond memories every time I listen to it. I had it on cassette tape when it first dropped. I was also lucky to see them live in Tel Aviv in 1995. They are definitely one of my favorite hip hop groups of all time.
Anything else people should know?
Peled: I’m thankful and excited for the invite and very much waiting to see the Atlanta crowd live. I also wish to invite the local crowd to check me out on YouTube. Even if you don’t speak Hebrew, I believe music speaks louder than words.
Sagol: I believe that music is a wonderful platform and a great means of connection between people. I frequently collaborate with Arab and Palestinian artists as a way to establish dialogue and collaboration between people who are considered conflicted and often portrayed as rivals in the media. I try to use hip hop with a lot of respect for the culture, and as a musical medium that can reach just about anybody, regardless of race, gender, age, creed, belief, nationality or skin color. I hope this will come through when we rock the stage in Atlanta!