Balkan Beat Box

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Balkan Beat Box
Balkan Beat Box-3.jpg
Background information
OriginNew York City, United States; Tel Aviv, Israel
GenresGypsy punk, electronica, funk, reggae, world music
Years active2003–present
LabelsCrammed Discs, Nat Geo Music, JDub Records
Associated actsGogol Bordello, Firewater
MembersOri Kaplan
Tamir Muskat
Tomer Yosef

Balkan Beat Box (BBB) is an Israeli musical group founded by Tamir Muskat, Ori Kaplan and now including Tomer Yosef as a core member. The group plays Mediterranean-influenced music that incorporates Jewish, Southeastern Europe (mainly Balkan) and Middle Eastern traditions, Gypsy punk, reggae and electronica. As a musical unit they often collaborate with a host of other musicians both in the studio as well as live.


Co-founders Ori Kaplan and Firewater's member Tamir Muskat both met in Brooklyn, New York, NY as teenagers. Both had grown up with music; Kaplan had been a klezmer clarinetist, while Muskat was a drummer in a punk rock band.[citation needed] They established their own unique sound by fusing the musical styles of Mediterranean and Balkan traditions (mainly helped by Teo and the Chalga masters at the time) with hip hop and dancehall beats.[1]

Balkan Beat Box’s goal was to take ancient and traditional musical traditions and fuse those with hip hop in order to create a new mix of musical styles out of the traditional world music context that would appeal to listeners in a club or a dancehall.[2] As children, they had felt that traditional music was outdated and felt as though it did not adequately reflect their experiences of the growing world culture, so hoped to bring new relevance to these old traditional musical forms.[3] They cite Boban Marković, Rachid Taha, Fanfare Ciocarlia, Manu Chao, and Charlie Parker amongst their musical influences.[citation needed] The group was also influenced by Jamaican dub. In December 2006, the acclaimed artist from Tel Aviv Tomer Yosef became frontman for the group.

Balkan Beat Box’s self-titled first album (released in 2005) and their 2007 follow-up album Nu Med both received global acclaim.[citation needed] While their first album focused more on Mediterranean sounds, their second album included Arabic and Spanish influences. The song "Bulgarian Chicks" from their first album became popular in clubs and dancehalls in 2008.

The group released Blue Eyed Black Boy in 2010 and Give in 2012. Regarded as the "godfathers of global bass" by MTV Iggy,[4] the band continued to expand their sound incorporating electronic dance music, reggae, cumbia, and brass bands into their tracks. Blue Eyed Black Boy was recorded in Romania with the Jovica Ajderevic Orkestar brass band, and at Vibromonk East in Tel Aviv. Key tracks are "Dancing with the Moon", "Move It", "Blue Eyed Black Boy", and "War Again" as harbinger of things to come. The album Give was influenced by the Arab Spring, Occupy movements, and the spirit of change around the world. Spin Magazine dubbed the band "a global peace-keeping mission you can dance to".[citation needed]

Samplings and adaptations[edit]

The band's popular song "Bulgarian Chicks" was sampled by Mac Miller in the Diplo-produced track "Goosebumpz" in Spring 2013.[5] Later "Bulgarian Chicks" was also sampled in "Sis: Trompeta".[6]

The album Nu Med, already famous internationally became more popular when in August 2013 the song "Hermetico" taken from the album was sampled by Jason Derulo in his international hit "Talk Dirty" featuring 2 Chainz.[7]

In 2014, the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis sampled the song "Adir Adirim" from Balkan Beat Box's eponymous album for the track "Mr. Toot". This track debuted as part of the fourth season of their show I kveld med YLVIS.

Appearances in media[edit]

Their song featured in EA Sports' FIFA game series twice such as "Ramallah-Tel Aviv" featuring Tomer Yosef and Saz from album Nu Made (Remixes) in FIFA 10 and "I Trusted You" from album Shout it Out in FIFA 17.

"9/4 the Ladies" was featured in the 2008 film You Don't Mess with the Zohan.

"Hermetico" and "Balcasio" were featured in a 2009 episode of the TV series Bored to Death.

"Marcha de la Vida" was featured in Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2011

They contributed an original song with production duo Stargate for the 2015 film Home, entitled "Slushious".

The David Sisko remix of "Headhunter" was featured in the 2016 film Kindergarten Cop 2.

They co-produced and co-wrote a song for The Lonely Island featured on the Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping soundtrack, entitled "2 Banditos".

Band members[edit]

Balkan Beat Box in concert
Balkan Beat Box performing at the 2006 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN
Official members
Current live performers
  • Itamar Ziegler - guitar, bass guitar
  • Ben Hendler - bass guitar
  • Ron Bunker - guitar
  • Peter Hess - saxophone
  • Eyal Talmudi - saxophone
  • Uri Kinrot - guitar, saxophone
  • Alon Grinberg - Accordion
Past live performers
  • Jeremiah Lockwood - guitar
  • Dana Leong - trombone



  1. ^ Host, Vivian. "The New World: Raw Earth". Retrieved 2008-04-13.
  2. ^ Porter, Christopher. "Zion Lions: Balkan Beat Box". Archived from the original on 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  3. ^ Nathan-Kazis, Josh. "The Balkan Beat Box". Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  4. ^ Kim, Suyeon (2 March 2012). "Give Review". MTV Iggy. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  5. ^ Cartwright, Garth. "Balkan Beat Box". Archived from the original on 15 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  6. ^ Rolling Stone: Balkan Beat Box on Their 'Talk Dirty' Sample and Why the Sax is Back
  7. ^ Who Sampled website: Talk Dirty by Jason Derülo feat. 2 Chainz

External links[edit]