Kike on the Mic!

Hip Hop Hoodios? Jew betcha!

The Hip Hop Hoodíos (Josué Noriega, Abraham Velez, Federico Fong and Adam Salzman) are four Jewish Latino nerds who combine the musical traditions of their cultures —all of their cultures—into an old school/Old Testament mix of mayhem. With only the hilarious Raza Hoodía EP to their name, the Hoodíos are already infamous for their Jay-Z-busts-a-move-with-Woody-Allen bravado. And now, as Noriega told us, they're luring other Latino Jews out of the closet.

OC Weekly:Why are you playing OC? Ain't too many Latino Jews here.Josué Noriega: There's plenty of closet Latino Jews in OC. Heck, your last name, Arellano, is Sephardic. I'm a Jew?

Somewhere along your ancestral line you were. Most Latinos have some Jewish blood in them, given that 200,000 Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Inquisition and a bunch of them colonized the New World. No doubt there was a lot more intermingling of races and culture in Spain than the Catholic Church would like to acknowledge. And a lot of traditional Jewish music, especially from the Middle East, shares similar structures and keys with music from Spain.

What describes you better: The brown Beastie Boys or the mazel tov Molotov?

That's like asking a mulatto person, "Are you more black or are you more white?" We certainly grew up listening to and respecting the Beastie Boys, and I do view them as a model for a group that can get you to dance while also joking around. Similarly, we totally identify with Mexico's Molotov because they are able to interject political messages with raucous rap rock.

So, novelty act—insult or reality?

There was a writer in La Banda Elástica who categorized us as "trash" and an example of the negative effects of the mixing of races and economic classes—that hip-hop should only come from the lower classes. This just blew my mind. Why should the Hoodios be singled-out just because some of us are Jewish and middle-class and rap in Spanish? This writer only proved that liberal activists can be just as racist as any right-winger.

How do most Jews take lines like, "I'm on the mic/I'm a crazy kike"?

I'd say that about 80 percent of them totally dig it and realize that the message is meant to be self-empowering rather than derogatory. Every once in a while, you'll get some crazy Orthodox Jew who says something like, "Your music is dangerous and puts Jews' lives in danger!" That's ridiculous. My grandfather liberated concentration camps in the army during World War II—if I thought our music was going to inspire violence against Jews, why the heck would I ever get onstage?

You seem pretty tongue-in-cheek as a band, but you also don't shy away from supporting Israel at a time when such a stance is unpopular. How do you explain this to Latinos, many of whom overwhelmingly support the Palestinians?

I could care less about the timing of our message. The politics of the Middle East are far more complicated than what you see in a one-minute snippet on CNN. If the Zapatistas—who are far more disadvantaged than most Palestinians—started bombing civilian buses in Mexico City, Chicanos wouldn't criticize the Mexican government for intervening. It's completely hypocritical for Chicanos to criticize Israel's actions of protecting its own population from terrorist acts aimed at civilians. But this does not mean we fully support the Israeli government's policies either.

In light of this, why do you think the Hoodíos have been better received among Latinos than Jews?

Initially, it may have been because we have roots in the Latin alternative scene. Our bassist, Federico Fong, played in Jaguares and La Barranca, and we also collaborated with Orixa and Los Mocosos on our album. Recently, we've been getting a larger Jewish fan base, but it can still be frustrating. The running joke in our group is "If there's really a Jewish media conspiracy out there, could someone please show us how to tap into it?"

Any final words for Hector Carreón, the nut who runs the crazy anti-Semitic website La Voz de Aztlán? He probably thinks you're proof that the Zionists have taken over.

He's our biggest fan! I heard he's been spotted roaming the streets of Buena Park in one of our "Hoodio Homie" T-shirts!

HIP HOP HOODÍOS PERFORM WITH BAYÚ AT JC FANDANGO, 1086 N. STATE COLLEGE BLVD., ANAHEIM, (714) 758-1057. NOV. 26, 8 P.M. $12. 16+.

 
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