Art Plagiarizing Life: Kosher Hip-Hop Style

1217269627What does it take to play a Yeshiva student turned hip-hop connoisseur/rapper in a short film? Well, it helps if, like Nosson Zand, you’re already Hasidic, and also a rapper. Zand, whose real first name is Nathan, recently picked up the Best Actor in a Short Film award at the Boston International Film Festival for essentially portraying himself in the “Song of David.”

The 26-year old Brookline-native raps, acts, and keeps kosher in real life. He first experienced hip-hop at age 12, developing a passion that withstood his conversion to Orthodox Judaism.

In the film, Zand portrays a teenager studying to become a rabbi. When the young student discovers his love for hip-hop he’s forced to come to terms with his conflicting passions. (Yeah, we know. Yet another Jewish boy meets hip-hop, falls in love with aforesaid music, and must decide between becoming a rabbi and Lil Wayne).

Zand faced a similar conundrum with his own music, but resolved it by substituting his street lyrics for more Jewish-friendly content. Zand tells the Allston-Brighton TAB, “It was tough to preach a nice guy message in the hip-hop community without being labeled as a ‘conscious rapper,’ which is anyone’s nightmare if you want to be a commercial success.”

Zand has opened for the Orthodox reggae legend Matisyahu at Avalon and has a forthcoming CD. But, for now, he still works as a paper and plastic salesman and teaches at an after-school program at Brighton’s Shaloh House. Anyone for a sequel where Zand hosts 8-Mile-esque rap battles between Jewish teenagers in the basement of the Shaloh House?