Remedy first made his presence felt in the Hip-Hop world in 1998 with “Never Again,” a graphic song about the holocaust that was featured on the Wu-Tang Killa Bees The Swarm Volume One album. “I’m known to make people cry,” he notes, realizing the power of his song every time another person hear it. “Just from the testimony I’ve gotten from the people who’ve heard it and not just from Jews, from black kids who say it’s their favorite song on the album. Some kid from LA called me the other day and told me he felt chills the first time he heard “Never Again.”
The song launched Remedy into the public eye as the Jewish member of Wu-Tang. The irony of it all is that he didn’t even expect the song to make the album. “I just made the song because I was researching things,” he explains “learning about my own identity and my roots. I didn’t even know RZA was going to put it on the album. I didn’t know every day of the rest of my life was going to be based on “Never Again,” but if I die tomorrow I’m good with that.”
While “Never Again” was a huge hit it was released seven years ago, and recently Remedy’s been fielding some other questions about his career. “I see people and they say ‘Rem you still rappin’ and I say c’mon what else would I be doin? I know how to do other shit?” Not only has the New York native been releasing albums independently, he’s ready to release a mixtape for the streets, a mixtape he says may shock some listeners. “You won’t hear one word about being Jewish,” Remedy says of the project, “some people can’t get ahold of that like ‘this is the guy that represents us?’ But there are different sides to me.” For those looking for a Remedy album with a more Jewish influence they need not worry, he’s also just completed a new song called “I Love My Land” which gives listeners “5,000 years of Jewish history in one song, four minutes,” and is putting the finishing touches on an album recorded completely in Israel with a roster made up entirely of Israeli artists.
According the Remedy the process of creating his Israeli album was “one of the sickest things I’ve ever done. I went to Israel and lived there for three months last summer.” While some may be hesitant to make such a trip Remedy notes “if you’ve never went to Israel and watched CNN you’d never go, but then you got to Israel and it’s nothing like that.” He continued, adding “it’s like a whole ‘nother world out there, people aren’t so superficial and fake. The land itself is amazing and I went and recorded an album with all Israeli artists, I’m tryin to finish it now and get it out. Everybody should go, the feeling you get when you’re in Israel is like nowhere else in the world. They respect me, they got a lot of love for me. They heard “Never Again” in Israel five, six years ago and they know I represent New York and real Hip-Hop so they respect the angle I’m coming from.”
In America, however, Remedy feels people’s perceptions of Hip-Hop and what it should be have been twisted and altered into something negative rather than positive. “Corporate America took Hip-Hop and ran with it,” he explains “you got a bunch of suits running Hip-Hop now. I like the late 80’s and the early 90’s where they hadn’t engulfed it really.” Of course he does see some of the good things that have come from some of the corporate money, saying “without the major backing Hip-Hop wouldn’t be on your TV, you wouldn’t be hearing jingles on McDonald’s commercials and in essence that’s great for Hip-Hop, but maybe if they were doing the same thing for real artists and artists who said something I would have respect for it.” Right now he feels most of the money being infused into Hip-Hop is acting as a cancer rather than as a growth hormone. “They’re killing America with Hip-Hop, they have kids talking about the whisper song. They’re misleading future generations with Hip-Hop. They’re making it cool to be a loser.” He continued, adding “there’s so much garbage out there, the top artists of today are saying nothing in their songs. I’m embarrassed for the state of Hip-Hop right now.” Remedy holds out some hope for the culture, however, noting “they say life’s a cycle so maybe the real individuals will come back.”
Real individuals are hard to come by, and not just in Hip-Hop, in life in general. After doing some rough math in his head Remedy feels that “you got 85% of America that just goes for whatever, they work nine to five, pay their bills and keep the machine turning. Then you have 10% of America that knows the truth but they try to exploit it. Then you have the 5% that knows the truth tries to teach it.” Remedy feels he fits into that final five percent saying “I came with the Code Red album and tried to save the world but it didn’t work, nobody cares.”
Some of those who fall into the category of those who don’t care might come as a shock to some. “The Jewish label owners don’t really look out for other Jews,” he explains, “I thought Steve Rifkind, Lyor Cohen would look out for me, instead they turned their back on me.” While there are quite a few Jewish people in power in the Hip-Hop world, Remedy feels separate from a lot of them saying “I’m a little different, I acknowledge my Judaism. Hip-Hop is supposed to be the realest form of expression, to me I’m Jewish, I am what I am, for me not to express that would be to making things up. Your lyrics and yourself as an artist is what you are and how you got to where you at. That all stems from history, if you don’t know your past how you gonna know your future.”
While a crystal clear view of the future may not be possible Remedy says he’s sure of one thing, his fan base is willing to stick with him through almost anything, which is something he knows isn’t true for all artists. “Hip-Hop fans will turn their back on you in a second,” he explains “as soon as 50’s not hot no one will care about him, but if you’re down with Remedy and like his music, you’ll be down with me forever.”