SHI 360 – Israeli Hip Hop and Jewish rap ambassador.
He is an Israeli born Canadian rapper, producer and performer.
Being raised by North-African parents in the complex reality of Israel has influenced his music to reflect an eclectic mix of Middle Eastern melodies, North African Rhythms and thought provoking lyrics. His dad, of Tunisian descent, would play an unconventional mix of Salim Halali, Otis Redding, Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Oum Kalthoum, Yehoram Gaon and many more…It was this rich musical environment that forged his artistic direction from a young age.
He first heard hip hop music on “The Voice of Peace”. A Pirate radio station run by Israeli peace activist Abie Nathan (Kol HaShalom). The broadcast was from a ship “somewhere in the Mediterranean”. It was the only place where SHI could hear “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.
Immigrating to Canada as a young boy, he was forced to adapt to a new culture, learn new languages, and deal with anti-Semitism for the first time in his life – nothing was familiar.
However, with these new changes, also came hip hop.
The high school days were his first exposure to hip hop as a culture. The hallways, the school dances, the way people spoke and how they dressed…It wasn’t long before the classic hip hop era of the 90′s was the soundtrack to SHI’s life. He loved the beats, the language, and the stories – reciting the songs before he could even understand the language. That love of the music also helped him to master the English language.
SHI would study every hip hop song and album he could find. Very quickly, the young immigrant was honing his skills in freestyle cyphers and open-mic nights. Under the mentoring of Montreal hip hop heavyweights, he evolved into a conscious MC in Montreal in the late 90′s, drawing both underground and commercial appeal.
Using music to tell his story, he always stayed true to his background and experiences. He took on the moniker Supreme Hebrew Intelekt (SHI) as a representation of his roots, skillful delivery and excellent wordplay.In his debut album, Chapters, SHI tells the stories, challenges, and victories of a Jewish Israeli immigrant in the diaspora. A soulful east coast hip hop album, Chapters brought fresh, honest and conscious lyricism and earned the Canadian rapper his respect within the Montreal hip hop scene.
After getting his degree from Concordia university, the Canadian rapper returned to Israel, which was virtually untouched by the hip hop movement. He brought with him not only the music, but an authentic voice of an Israeli hip hop artist that grew up with the culture.
In order to build a name for himself in a very young Israeli hip hop scene, the Canadian rapper had to learn how to rap in Hebrew. Bringing his unique reality rap style and candid lyrics, he now added Middle Eastern melodies and Israeli social subject matters into his songs. The 360 was added, representing his “full circle” return to the point of origin – Israel.
The Canadian rapper brought some of the hip hop culture to Israeli rap. He made history with the release of the first Israeli hip hop mixtape (360 degrees in the shade), and hosting the country’s premier Israeli hip hop radio show – The Lab. Within a very short time, SHI 360 quickly became a pioneer of Israeli hip hop and reached gold and platinum status before his own solo project was even released. Through it all, SHI 360 had to struggle with a heart condition that prevented him from performing live. After four heart surgeries, he was fully healed and his first solo Hebrew rap album “Chai” (alive) was released. From that point on, he had top-rated singles on Israeli radio and TV.
His ability to switch between English, Hebrew and French rhymes, was unparalleled and opened up the doors to a global audience. His inspiring songs and socially driven lyrics touched many lives and helped him realize how powerful music can be. The Canadian Israeli rapper was now involved in many socio-cultural initiatives helping to bridge the gap between different communities. He realized that he could make an even bigger impact by speaking to a wider audience. So, after 2 Hebrew albums, a platinum hip hop group album and producing countless other projects, the ambitious Jewish rapper recorded Shalom Haters. This was his first English album since “Chapters”. The lead single and video was premiered on Vibe’s AllHipHop.com website – a first for an Israeli hip hop artist. The Canadian rapper has once again made history for Israeli hip hop. Performing all over the US, Canada, Europe, Africa and Asia, the Canadian Hip Hop artist became a global MC.
In early 2013, after taking a two year break to complete his MBA, SHI 360 returned to North America to showcase at the renowned South by South West Music Festival in Austin, Texas. He released his highly acclaimed mixtape The Inglorious Basterd, and established himself as a respected MC.
Anything but your typical hip hop artist, hailing from the Middle East, this Canadian rapper spreads unity and awareness through his music and tours worldwide. Collaborating with global artists from different backgrounds, his music bridges the gap between different cultures.
“People from different places might not agree on everything, but in the end, we all want the same things as human beings. I’m not apologetic for who I am” he says. “People will only respect you if you respect yourself first.”
He has set himself apart as a compelling voice unafraid to challenge the mainstream media’s oftentimes-distorted messages. Many of his songs bring a bold social message, leading many to label SHI 360 a “political rapper”. But that would overlook the realities delivered in his music. As the Israeli Canadian rapper puts it: “I draw inspiration from what I have lived and seen. I bring you the facts, together with my most candid feelings and experiences”. Going by the credo “Don’t be afraid to think,” SHI 360 doesn’t shy away from expressing his opinions, through deft rhymes and fresh, genre-shifting beats.