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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Abraham Inc. tops Billboard, in Yiddish ranking

By Lauren Teixeira 

In a burst of fusion as yet unseen at Grinnell College, your bar mitzvah party and the your parents’ college dance floor come together this Monday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Herrick Chapel, in the form of “Abraham Inc.,” the klezmer-funk sensation.

Named, presumably, after the patriarch of Bible fame, Abraham, Inc. is the brainchild of unlikely collaborators—David Krakauer, internationally renowned clarinetist and conductor of Klezmer Madness!—an ensemble known for contemporary twists on the traditional Eastern European Jewish folk music—and Fred Wesley Jr., the seasoned trombonist who for decades worked backing up the likes of funk legends James Brown and Bootsy Collins.

The idea for righteous Semitic-funk came about when Krakauer and Wesley were introduced in a rehearsal studio by DJ Socalled, the Jewish-Canadian rapper and “beat architect” who fills out the creative trio and contributes most of the lyrics.

The results of this informal jam session were serendipitous, and by 2006, Abraham Inc. had achieved success— their debut song “Tweet Tweet” peaked at #1 on both Billboard Funk and Jewish and Yiddish charts.

Whether or not this ranking is a particularly competitive distinction is irrelevant—Abraham, Inc.’s music is a category of its own, and any acclaim is well-earned. “Tweet Tweet” is an effortless blend of styles— the product of world-class musicians finding a stylistic harmony that is all their own.

In performance, the songs become joyful musical rambles in which styles weave in and out and occasionally ebb into moments of delightful improvisation. The result is an act so jaunty, so optimistic and so multi-cultural it almost feels like the ’90s again. This impression is certainly enhanced by the flow of Socalled, whose goofy rhymes, which often incorporate Hebrew, are reminiscent of both classic hip-hop acts like Tribe and De La Soul and a cheesy educational music video you saw in second grade.

From their song “Breaking Bread” comes the lyric “So many trees and there’s no one in the forest/ha-ha motzei lechem min ha’aretz”—yes, that is the Hebrew blessing for bread.

With their bouncy beats, playful blend of styles and sunny retro attitude, Abraham Inc. is a welcome musical remedy for the cynicism of this millennium. So come on down to Herrick Monday. As they say, bring on the klezmer-hip-hop-jazz funk.

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