The Daily Beast | PUBLISHED Apr 13, 2015 | Hollywood
Madonna’s performance with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 VMAs was a huge pop culture moment. And when she made out with Spears – and the camera quickly cut, hilariously, to a shocked Justin Timberlake – it was even bigger.
Then the tender age of 44, Madonna’s antics were sensational but not overly strange. Twelve years later, she’s involved in another high-profile makeout sesh, this time with former Canadian Bildungshow star Drake, nearly thirty years her junior.
Tired of listening to Kool & the Gang at b’nai mitzvah parties? Here is a playlist of 13 songs that will bring the shy boys and boy-crazy girls to the dance floor, while following in the talmudic tradition of adding a little commentary to the big day.
“When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)” The Beach Boys (1965) That would be today, fellas.
“I’ll Be There for You” (theme song from “Friends”) The Rembrandts (1995) Invite 300 of your closest friends!
“Get the Party Started” Pink (2001) Best. Entrance. Song. Ever.
“Fire” Jimi Hendrix (1967) Don’t forget bubbe and zayde during the candle lighting.
“I Want to Take You Higher” Sly and the Family Stone (1969) Lift that chair in the air!
“Shiver” Coldplay (2000) Is it me or is the synagogue freezing?
“Gimme Little Sign” Brenton Wood (1967) No party is complete without a signing board.
by Jana Banin, JTA | PUBLISHED Nov 12, 2013 | Video
If you have 10 minutes to spare, check out Drake’s short film/video “Worst Behavior.”
It’s packed with shots of Memphis, f-bombs, and cameos from Drake’s dad Dennis Graham, Juicy J, Project Pat, and a very entertaining white guy dressed up like Drizzy’s OVO owl.
Jewish highlight: “I imported mine/Bar mitzvah money like my last name Mordecai/F***you bitch I’m Mordecai/My mom probably hear that and be mortified.”
Yeah, that’s definitely possible.
Video: Malala Yousafzai talks with Jon Stewart
Can Drake reinvent the Toronto Raptors à la Jay-Z?
by Jana Banin, JTA | PUBLISHED Oct 1, 2013 | Culture
The Toronto Raptors are gearing up for a makeover from none other than Drake, the city’s very own Jewish rap sensation.
We know, you’re probably wondering if it’s even possible to infuse cool into a losing team with a tougher, redder Barney for a mascot. But according to the Toronto Star, the execs behind it all are modeling the re-branding on another very successful rapper-basketball joint venture: Jay-Z and the Brooklyn Nets.
“Hip hop’s cool uncle took an (incredibly tiny) ownership position in exchange for polishing the shield,” the Toronto Star says of Jay-Z. “He didn’t have to do much. Switch from Yankees to Nets ball-caps. Show up to a few games. Whisper in the ears of a few guys who grew up on The Blueprint. The result is an almost instant contender, the sort of marquee brand future hall of famers want to be associated with.”
Now it’s Drake’s turn. In addition to hosting the 2016 NBA All-Star game, the self-described “Raptors fan to the death,” will launch a team-based clothing line and consult on the redesign of the their image for the 20th anniversary of the franchise in the 2014-2015 season.
The hope is that Toronto will soon become a city NBA players are willing to go to. And that Drake does something with that dinosaur.
by Jana Banin, JTA | PUBLISHED Sep 25, 2013 | Multimedia
Drake’s new album “Nothing Was the Same” was released yesterday, as was the video for the single “Hold On We’re Going Home.”
While this short musical film does not feature the Jewish Canadian rapper undergoing a religious rite of passage, it does take place in the very Jewy locale of Miami, where a gun-toting Drake rescues his kidnapped girlfriend. Not exactly shul, but we’ll take it.
The Jewish Canadian singer Drake won a Grammy Award, his first, for Rap Album of the Year.
Also, the indie pop band fun. won Song of the Year with “We Are Young” and Best New Artist at the 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday in Los Angeles. Its lead singer, Jack Antonoff, is Jewish, and he thanked all the band's fans after fun. won in the latter category.
“We've been touring for 12 years and we haven't made money for a very long time,” he told the crowd, extending a shout-out to girlfriend Lena Dunham.
For Drake, his album “Take Care” brought him the Grammy before the televised portion of the show began. He beat out Lupe Fiasco, Nas, The Roots and Rick Ross.
Drake had been nominated 10 times before breaking through this year. He also was nominated for Best Rap Performance for his song “HYFR” and Best Rap song for “The Motto.”
Fun. also performed at the Grammys, playing its hit “Carry On” during a staged indoor rainstorm at the Staples Center.
In his introduction of the group, actor Neil Patrick Harris said, “As legendary gangsta rap icon Katharine Hepburn once said, 'If you obey all the rules, you don’t have any fun.' “
Other notable Grammy winners were the English folk band Mumford & Sons, who won Album of the Year for “Babel”; Gotye, whose hit “Somebody That I Used to Know” won for Record of the Year; and Adele, who won her seventh Grammy for her live performance of “Set Fire to the Rain.”
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Drake’s profanity-laced ‘re-bar mitzvah’ video filmed in Miami shul stirs controversy [VIDEO]
by Debra Rubin, JTA | PUBLISHED Apr 12, 2012 | Culture
Thanks to hip-hop superstar Drake’s latest music video, there are now far more eyes focusing on Temple Israel’s bimah than there are even during the High Holidays.
And even though the song’s lyrics are decidedly more profane than sacred, the Reform synagogue’s president said he hoped the video would help Jewish youth connect to Judaism.
The video, parts of which were filmed in the Miami shul’s sanctuary, purports to depict Drake’s “re-bar mitzvah,” showing the Jewish rapper reading from what appears to be a Torah. But the accompanying song, “HYFR” (Hell Yeah F***ing Right), has nothing to do with a bar mitzvah. Rather, it features profanity-filled and sexually explicit lyrics.
“But she was no angel, and we never waited / I took her for sushi, she wanted to f*** / So we took it to go, told them don’t even plate it,” Drake raps.
The video had garnered well over 1 million views by Wednesday, only five days after its release.
At first, Temple Israel’s president, Ben Kuehne, said that the video—lyrics aside—is “an embracing of religious passage.” He said, “It’s not a sacrilegious message; it’s not an antireligious message.”
But once Kuehne had a chance to review the video and the lyrics more closely, he said, “The complete video is certainly not consistent with Temple Israel’s longstanding history and reputation as a progressive voice in the Jewish Reform movement.” He added, “Temple Israel does not adopt, condone, or sponsor any aspect of the Drake video, and was not involved in its production.”
Nevertheless, Kuehne said, he hoped “Jewish youth will see the Drake video at least in part as a reminder to ‘re-commit’ themselves to their Jewish religion.”
Drake, whose real name is Aubrey Graham, was raised by his Jewish mother in Toronto and attended a Jewish day school. “I went to a Jewish school, where nobody understood what it was like to be black and Jewish,” he told Heeb magazine in 2010. “When kids are young it’s hard for them to understand the make-up of religion and race.”
The 25-year-old rapper today us one of the biggest names in hip-hop. He has been very public in embracing his Jewish roots, wearing a Chai pendant on the cover of Vibe magazine.
The video for “HYFR” opens with a clip of Drake as a boy at a bar mitzvah celebration saying “mazel tov” and then cuts to him as an adult wearing a yarmulke and prayer shawl as he is shown apparently reading the Torah at Temple Israel’s bimah. A caption at the beginning of the video says the rapper “chose to get re-bar mitzvah’d as a re-commitment to the Jewish faith.”
The staged footage of the purported ceremony is followed by party and dancing scenes filmed elsewhere. In many ways, it looks like a typical over-the-top bar mitzvah party—only in this case, the bar mitzvah “boy” is a famous musician who is joined by hip-hop producer DJ Khaled and fellow rapper Lil Wayne wearing a panda mask.
The camera pans a food table with bagels and what appears to be gefilte fish and smoked fish. Drake is shown being lifted in a chair and later pounding a cake with its Torah scroll decorations.
Kuehne said that those involved in the filming were “very respectful and used the temple outside and inside as we would have expected anybody to do.” He said that the producers of the video paid a standard rental fee for the use of the synagogue’s facilities.
Kuehne also said the synagogue’s Torah scroll was not used and that the scenes where Drake appears to be rapping in the sanctuary were inserted post-production. “None of the song’s lyrics were sung in the Temple Israel Sanctuary,” he said.
Yitz Jordan, an Orthodox Jewish rapper who goes by the stage name Y-Love, told JTA he is thrilled to see Drake publicly embracing his Judaism.
“I’ve been saying for years, ‘What’s it gonna take to put Drake in a yarmulke,’” Y-Love said. “I’ve been clamoring for Drake’s Jewish visibility forever.”
He dismissed the lyrics, saying he doesn’t listen to Drake for the content.
“You’re not really sitting there trying to learn about the system of wealth distribution in America,” Y-Love said. “I’m ecstatic just to see Drake in a yarmulke period.” He added, “This is going to help a lot of Jewish kids of color stand up in the hood. Drake’s doing this is really going to help those kids.”
The video’s director, Director X, told Vibe magazine that filming the video last month was a “lot of fun.”
“We were very respectful of the religion and all that happens there,” he said. “So everyone took care with thinking about what’s what, but at the same time, it’s Drake, he’s 24 having a re-bar mitzvah. So it does have a comedy element just by the scenario itself.”
The video’s YouTube page has been flooded with comments both praising and blasting Drake.
“What’s the point of committing to a religion, whose principles you are not going to follow…?” one commenter wrote. “This is just making a mockery of Judaism. I do not practice Judaism, and even I am offended.”
Another wrote, “We get it, you’re proud, which is great—celebrate it more respectfully.”
The video also had its defenders. “Drake is Jewish, his mother is Jewish and he was raised in Jewish religion,” one wrote. “In this video he shows his recognition and actually says that’s what I am.”
Grantland blogger Rembert Browne sees the video as an expression of Drake’s second coming-of-age.
“Coming to terms with who you really are, publicly, is a sign of adulthood, and with this video it’s apparent that his process of doing this is at the very least under way,” Browne wrote. He also said he never had seen Drake “as happy, on-camera, as he is in these party scenes. The look on his face screams, ‘Finally, I can be myself.’”