Nissim (rapper)

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Nissim
Nissim smiles.jpg
Background information
Native name
Nissim Baruch Black
Birth nameDamian Jamohl Black
Also known asD. Black, Danger
Born (1986-12-09) December 9, 1986 (age 33)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
GenresJewish hip hop, conscious hip hop, hardcore hip hop (early)
Years active2003-2011, 2012-present
LabelsSportn' Life, Fin, Nissim World
Associated actsDyme Def, Jake One, Vitamin D, Fatal Lucciano, Los Serenos Sefarad
Websitenissimofficial.com

Nissim Baruch Black (born Damian Jamohl Black; December 9, 1986) is an American rapper and producer from Seattle, Washington. Originally performing under the name D. Black, he released two albums, The Cause and Effect (2006) and Ali'yah (2009), and was featured on producer Jake One's debut album White Van Music (2008). He retired in 2011 to focus on his conversion to Orthodox Judaism, but returned in 2012 under his Hebrew name, Nissim, and began writing from a more religious standpoint. He appeared on the Shtar song "Rabbit Hole" from their album Boss EP, released in 2012. In 2013, he released a mixtape, Miracle Music, followed by his debut album, self-titled Nissim. In March 2017, he released his second album Lemala.

History[edit]

Early life[edit]

Damian Black was born on December 9, 1986, in Seattle, Washington and grew up in the Seward Park neighborhood. His parents, James "Captain Crunch" Croone and Mia Black, were both rappers and members of, respectively, the Emerald Street Boys and Emerald Street Girls in the late '70s.[1] His grandparents had also been musicians and played alongside Ray Charles and Quincy Jones.[2] He was raised a Sunni Muslim but was non-practicing, and converted to Christianity at age 14 after attending an Evangelical summer camp.[1][2] His parents separated when he was two; his mother took him with her and remarried shortly thereafter. Both his biological parents and stepfather used and sold drugs from home, prompting an FBI raid on the house in 1995 which resulted in his mother's arrest. She later died from an overdose at 37.[2]

First Sportn' Life recordings (2002-2007)[edit]

Black began rhyming in his preteens, recording under the name Danger. When he was 13, producer Vitamin D moved his studio into Black's stepfather's basement and began mentoring the boy, producing some of his first official recordings.[3] Black also recorded with producer Bean One of Dyme Def.[4]

In 2002, Sportn' Life Records published its first release, a split vinyl single between Black and Last Men Standing. The following year, he appeared on a Sportn' Life compilation album alongside several members of Oldominion.[5][6] In 2004, the 18-year-old Black was selected by his stepfather to replace him as co-CEO of Sportn' Life, together with his father's partner, DeVon Manier.[3][4] In addition to running the label, Black began releasing singles like "You Need a Thug" and "This Is Why" (the latter produced by Jake One, whom he had associated with early on).[3] On May 24, 2005, Black released his first Sportn' Life mixtape Behind the Dirt, which featured appearances from J Smooth and Darrius Willrich of Maktub.[7]

In 2007, he released his debut album, The Cause and Effect. Jake One, Bean One, and Vitamin D contributed to the production,[3] though the album did not get much attention outside of the Pacific Northwest scene.[8] Despite this, the album sold over 4,500 copies regionally, and Black was invited to perform on the Vera Project stage at the 2007 Capitol Hill Block Party alongside Blue Scholars.[9]

Ali'yah and retirement (2008-2011)[edit]

After The Cause and Effect's release, Black, now a husband and father, began questioning his Christian beliefs, turning to Messianic Judaism and convincing his wife to follow suit.[1][2] He also started listening to artists like Common and Lauryn Hill;[8] both developments began to strongly influence his music. In 2008, he contributed to Jake One's debut album, White Van Music, with the song "God Like", which received play on MTV.[10]

In 2009, Black released his second album, Ali'yah. The album spent five weeks at number 4 on CMJ's hip hop charts, while the video for its lead single, "Yesterday", also gained regular rotation on MTV.[2] That same year, he performed at Bumbershoot[11] and returned to Capitol Hill Block Party.[12] He was also one of the candidates to portray The Notorious B.I.G. in the 2009 biopic Notorious,[1] though the role ultimately went to Jamal Woolard.

Six months after the album's release, Black renounced his belief in Jesus and Christianity. No longer supporting the album's message but unable to quit his contract, he agreed to promote it, but refused to accept money outside of touring expenses or perform on Shabbat.[2] He officially retired in 2011 after releasing The Blackest Brown EP with friend and fellow rapper Bradley "B." Brown. He subsequently moved to Seward Park's Jewish community and began studying for conversion with Rabbi Simon Benzaquen at the Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation. During this time, he cut off all connections to his previous career, including abandoning his position at Sportn' Life and even getting rid of his own music collection.[1]

Nissim at the 2013 Sasquatch! Music Festival

Return to rapping, Nissim, and Lemala (2012-present)[edit]

Near the end of his conversion process, Black's son developed meningitis and had to be hospitalized, a blow to the financially strapped family. While praying over the situation in his study, Black discovered that a long-broken microphone had begun working again, and took this as a sign to return to music.[1][2]

He officially announced his return to music in September 2012.[1] The following December, he appeared on the Shtar song "Rabbit Hole" from their album Boss EP.[13]

Nissim before concert in Uman, Ukraine in 2016.

On February 26, 2013, he released the mixtape Miracle Music, his first official recording under his new stage name, Nissim.[14] The following May, he appeared at the 2013 Sasquatch! Music Festival.[1] Following a recording session in London Bridge Studio, he released his first new album, the self-titled Nissim, on September 17.[1] He closed out the year with "The Black Miracle", a Hanukkah single produced by Aish.com.[15]

In 2016, Nissim collaborated with Gad Elbaz on the song "Hashem Melech 2.0," and with Lipa Schmeltzer on the song "Bar Mitzvah Time." The following year, on March 10, he released his fourth album Lemala, which featured collaborations with Elbaz, DeScribe, Netanel Israel, and Yisroel Laub.

Personal life[edit]

Until March 2016, Black lived in Seattle's Seward Park Jewish community with his wife Adina (formerly Jamie) and their children. Originally married in 2008, the couple participated in an Orthodox marriage ceremony in 2013 at the Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation following their double conversion. The marriage was a double ceremony with Black's childhood friend Yosef (formerly Bradley) Brown and his wife Chana (formerly Sheree), both fellow converts.[16]

In March 2016, Black and his family made aliyah to Israel.[17]

In an August 2018 interview with Menachem Toker of Radio Kol Chai, Black revealed that his children had been subjected to racial discrimination by several local Haredi yeshivas, being denied admission explicitly because of their race. He also said that he had sought advice on the matter from Rav Chaim Kanievsky during an August 27 meeting and was reportedly told "being black is your mayla (advantage) not a chesaron (disadvantage)."[18][19][20]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • The Cause and Effect (March 7, 2007; re-released November 17, 2009; Sportn' Life)
  • Ali'yah (September 15, 2009; Sportn' Life)
  • Nissim (September 17, 2013; Nissim World/Fin)
  • Lemala (March 10, 2017; ZOAB Entertainment/Little Box Records)
  • Gibor (December 9, 2019; Marom Entertainment)

EPs[edit]

  • The Blackest Brown EP (as D. Black; with B. Brown) (February 17, 2011; Sportn' Life)

Mixtapes[edit]

  • Behind the Dirt (as D. Black) (May 24, 2005; re-released November 19, 2010; Sportn' Life)
  • Miracle Music (February 26, 2013; independent)

Compilations[edit]

  • The Sportn' Life Compilation Vol. 1 (as Danger; "Make A Change", "You Need a Thug")(July 3, 2003; Sportn' Life)

Singles and music videos[edit]

  • "Get Loose" (The Cause and Effect; 2006)
  • "Yesterday" (feat. Marissa) (Ali'yah; 2009)
  • "Ricochet" (2012)
  • "Unbelievable" (2013)
  • "Chronicles" (Miracle Music; 2013)
  • "Sores" (feat. Rabbi Simon Benzaquen) (Nissim; 2013)
  • "Live For Now" featuring Bonhom (Nissim; 2013)
  • "Revered" (Nissim; 2013)
  • "The Black Miracle" (Hannukah single produced by Aish.com; 2013)
  • "Yerushalayim" (feat. Eric Gerstenfeld) (2014)
  • "Falling Star" (feat. Gabriel Mintz) (2014)
  • "Zman Cheruteinu" (Passover single) (Lemala; 2016)
  • "Tagid Todah" (feat. Netanel Israel) (Lemala; 2016)
  • "A Million Years" (feat. Yisroel Laub) (Lemala; 2016)
  • "Hashem Melech 2.0" (feat. Gad Elbaz), (Lemala; 2016)

Guest appearances[edit]

Production credits[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Emily K. Alhadeff (September 17, 2013). "Rapper Nissim Black Has a Spiritual Message for the Hip-Hop World". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Rabbi Tzvi Gluckin (June 15, 2013). "Black Jewish Rapper". Aish.com. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Cyril Cordor. "D. Black". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  4. ^ a b Matson, Andrew (August 17, 2007). "New hip-hop generation celebrates Sportn' Life". Seattle Times. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  5. ^ Larry Mizell Jr. (November 21, 2012). "My Philosophy". The Stranger. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  6. ^ "The Sportn' Life Compilation Vol 1". Bandcamp. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Behind the Dirt — Mixtape by D.Black". Bandcamp. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  8. ^ a b Mudede, Charles (September 10, 2009). "The Outsider". The Stranger. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  9. ^ Seling, Megan (July 19, 2007). "Band of the Day: D.Black". The Stranger. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  10. ^ Benji Rosen (Nov 26, 2013). "The religious rapper: A journey out of the darkness". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  11. ^ Matson, Andrew (September 10, 2009). "D. Black: 22-year-old rapper, father, husband, record label co-owner, preacher". Seattle Times. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  12. ^ Ayers, Michael D. (April 28, 2009). "Sonic Youth, Jesus Lizard Headed To Seattle's Capitol Hill Block Party". Billboard. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  13. ^ Marder, Rachel (Dec 6, 2012). "The Israeli Music Scene's Rising 'Shtar'". Algemeiner Journal. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  14. ^ "Miracle Music by NISSIM". Bandcamp. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  15. ^ "The Black Miracle: A Hanukkah Poetry Slam" (video). Aish.com. November 20, 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  16. ^ Debra Rubin (June 20, 2013). "Double wedding in Seattle caps rapper's transformation". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  17. ^ Ari Yashar (March 2, 2016). "Convert rap star makes Aliyah to Jerusalem". Arutz Sheva.
  18. ^ Jacob Siegel (Aug 28, 2018). "Haredi Rapper Discriminated Against Receives a Warm Bracha". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  19. ^ Ben Shaul (Aug 30, 2018). ['My children weren't accepted to school because they're black' "'My children weren't accepted to school because they're black'"] Check |url= value (help). Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Nissim Black's Children Rejected By Schools; Rav Chaim Kanievsky Tells Him 'Dark Skin is a Positive'". Yeshiva World News. Aug 28, 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.

External links[edit]