Diwon is described here as the illest Yemenite beat maker. I’m guessing that only a few people caught up in the Jewish music subculture could name one, let alone two. However, it is a really fascinating aspect of folklore that a culture and/or religion represent themselves in different ways through various genres of music. The most popular Jewish name even slightly associated with rap music would be the orthodox Jew Matisyahu, whose songs have transcended mere novelty into the realm of pop culture. Meanwhile, that song from the Ipod commercials “New Soul” by Yael Naim had everyone humming along, so if you don’t know about it, it doesn’t mean it is not substantive. The record label Modular Moods is taking long strides in bringing such music with a rap infusion to the forefront with the release of a collaborative effort from C-Rayz Walz and Kosha Dillz “Freestyle vs. Written” and Diwon’s “Rarities & Remixes,” respectively.
I’m not an expert on the specific intricacies of Judaism, so I am not going to pretend to be. However, it seems fair to explain the geographical difference with the Israeli Jews because Diwon’s music is more representative of the Southern tip of the Arabian peninsula where the country Yemen is located and where Yemenites and their ancestors hailed for many years. Now, of the few remaining, some still live in Yemen, Israel or the United States.
The Arabian influence is evident when the album opens up with some bongo drums and female vocals that sounds like it could be the source material for Erick Sermon’s “React.” However, the opening has very low production values and is clearly used as merely a stepping stone for Diwon to introduce his own flavor of Yemenite music, infused with hip-hop and dancehall roots. The second track “Mah is What” has a 35 second thumping bass line laced with what sounds like a Sitar and is far more indicative of Diwon’s personal approach.
“Idan Reichel Remix” is the first complete piece of music on the CD, standing strong at 3:05, while many of the tracks that make their way on the disc are just the beginning snippets of what could later be adopted as full cuts. There is a certain catchiness with this one, as it sounds like the male vocalist is crooning a traditional Hebrew song over a pulsating dance-inspired production.
Another one of the fully fleshed out entries here has a certain reggae feel to it akin to Matisyahu’s stuff, which is a welcome addition.
The real issue I have with Diwon’s album is that it mostly sounds like he is just throwing together scraps from the program he does his production work on. The short lifespan of the songs makes the listener feel like they are listening to snippets on Itunes as the thirteen tracks unfold in just under 26 minutes. It would be highly recommended for Diwon to team up with a capable emcee to deliver the message that he is trying to convey with this album. I understand that it is an instrumental album, but there is not enough continuity or entertainment value here to really warrant a purchase unless you are specifically a die-hard Jewish music fan. Technically the album is proficient enough.
On the cover of “Rarities & Remixes” three Yemenite children and assumedly Diwon sit looking at the cover of a Run-D.M.C. album with traditional head garb on, which is an interesting clash of culture and also an effective representation of what Diwon aims to bring to the table. That being said Jam Master Jay had Reverend Run and Diwon needs his own muse to further perpetuate his music to where he wants to take it.