Media Stop

Published on December 21st, 2019 | by Jerry Doby


Vice’s ‘Gangsta Rap International’ – Nissim Black – Former Seattle Gangsta Rapper Talks Converting to Orthodox Jew and Finding Fame in Israel

Seattle native Nissim Black shares his story of converting from a gangsta rapper to Ultra Orthodox Jew in the new episode of Vice’s “Gangsta Rap International” docuseries. In the 17-minute segment that debuted Tuesday, host Chuckie Lothian travels to Jerusalem to interview the respected rapper who left the states in 2016 to immerse himself in religious culture.

Nissim, who achieved modest success as gangsta rapper D.Black in the mid to late 2000s, reveals to Vice that he was approached to play Notorious B.I.G. “They wanted a Big, but they wanted you to act,” he says. “I had my own vision of who Big was. So my Big was a different Big. I obviously didn’t get the role.” While Nissim admits the acting part would have helped his career, he is at peace about not getting cast. “I think it would have hindered me from being where I am right now.”

The response to Nissim’s presence as a Black Orthodox Jewish rapper based in Israel has been well received. The artist who has been covered by BBC, ABC and The Guardian and recently released the song “Never Forget,” heard his music played in the airport and has had fans stop him on the street to take pictures. “Overall an acceptance worldwide for sure,” he tells Vice but notes that he’s had some detractors. “You have bad apples” he says and adds “for sure you’re going to feel different when everyone is staring at you.”

While Nissim has embraced his new lifestyle, he hasn’t forgotten his roots. Last summer, he visited old friends in his hometown in Seattle and adorns his Hissidic garb with American hip hop staples like a pair of Yeezys. He even addresses like issues in his song and dance “MothaLand Bounce.” “It’s my way of saying I may have become a Jew but I’m still Black.” “MothaLand Bounce” drops in January.

Growing up in Seattle wasn’t easy. Nissim was “exposed to and witnessed a lot of violence,” he says. Both of his parents were drug dealers. “I remember coming home from elementary school and seeing kilos of dope on the table and guns,” he tells Vice. The lifestyle led a young Damian Jahmol Black to joining gangs prior to turning his life around.

(Photo Credit: Yitzchak Meltz)



As D.Black, Nissim released two albums, “The Cause and Effect” (2006) and “Ali’yah” (2009). He retired as a gangsta rapper in 2010 and reemerged in 2013, adopting his Hebrew name Nissim and releasing his “Miracle Music” mixtape, his first official recording under his new moniker.

That same year, Nissim released his self-titled album as well as the Hanukkah single “The Black Miracle.” His 2016 song “Hashem Melech 2.0” with Gad Elbaz reached No. 3 on iTunes world charts, received more than 5 million views on YouTube and was downloaded more than 350,000 times. His single “A Million Years” was streamed more than 2.4 million times on YouTube.

In 2019, Nissim signed a recording contract with ShineBox Records (distributed by Sony/Orchard) and is working on his next album. He maintains an active touring schedule with past and future stops in USA, Canada, Israel, Germany, Brazil, UK, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and more.

About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑