CVIndependent

Wed09182019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Kosha Dillz is one of the hardest-working people in hip-hop. He spent the summer touring the country on the final Warped Tour, and he’s heading out on tour again in the fall.

He’ll be performing at The Hood Bar and Pizza this Friday, Sept. 28, at a show presented by the Coachella Valley Independent.

Despite the name Kosha Dillz, the fact he’s performed with Matisyahu, and some Jewish references in his music, he is not is a religion-focused rapper. Instead, most of his music is quirky, such as his song “What I Do All Day.”

“I’m the least-religious person ever,” Kosha Dillz said during a recent phone interview. “The whole idea behind Kosha Dillz is more of a sexual reference. I guess there is some Jewish representation in it. It was more of being proud of my heritage, and then I sort of lost that and changed it for a few years—when I started rapping in battle raps, and I went by KD Flow.

“When I had gotten clean and sober and gotten out of jail for the last time, I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to release my music as Kosha Dillz.’ There’s no religious aspect to it, but religious people just started reaching out to me. It has nothing to do with anything biblical or anything like that. There’s not a ton of Jewish people coming to my shows; it’s more non-Jewish people.”

Kosha Dillz said that while he felt out of place at times on the Vans Warped Tour—he participated both in 2015 and this year—he did connect with audiences.

“The final Warped Tour was great, because it was the last time it was ever going to happen. There was a sense of urgency to be part of something legendary,” he said. “The goal of Warped Tour wasn’t to get a gazillion fans, but to find the people who were really right for me. That kind of situation is always interesting, because you never know who you’re going to meet. A lot of people went for the nostalgia factor. To be part of that, people want to keep that alive—and you might meet people who are going to follow you in the years to come.”

When Kosha Dillz plays a show, he’s everywhere. He’s promoting himself and casually chatting with audiences; this was the case when I saw him multiple times throughout the day at the Warped Tour in Pomona in 2015, and again when I saw him at the campgrounds at Coachella in 2016 and 2017. He’s also known for pop-up live performances at large events, one of which was a Radiohead concert in Israel in 2017.

“There’s a famous video of the world’s most famous violinist playing in a New York subway, and people just walk by and brush him off without realizing who he is. That’s sort of the same concept of what I do out there. It’s mass attention,” he said. “You’re going to a show, and you’re going to see people you haven’t seen. When I did that Radiohead show in Israel, it was a very discussed show, because it was the second-longest show they ever played, and because of Roger Waters trying to protest them (for not boycotting Israel due to the treatment of Palestinians). Then I’ve done stuff like that outside of the Grammy Awards, and I landed a national commercial for Chevrolet. I met people at that Israel show who have seen me perform at other festivals who were excited to see me again.”

Kosha Dillz has been vocally opposed to Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters’ involvement in the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel. Kosha Dillz said what Roger Waters promotes during live shows is anti-Semitic.

“If you put Roger Waters on paper, he’s a massive musician, but he displays imagery that is anti-Semitic and is old folklore of classic anti-Semitism with pigs and Jewish stars. … It’s modern anti-Semitism under the guise of anti-Israel,” he said. “For the basic person who just comes across that, they don’t know how deep it goes. I think it’s unfortunate. … What Roger Waters does is poison minds for the first 30 seconds, and people don’t really care much about it. He’s speaking on such a grand level: ‘It’s Roger Waters, so he must be right!’ Unless you’re invested a bit more, you’re not going to understand what the Middle East peace conflict is and how long it’s been going on for. It’s what Roger Waters does: He’s really anti-Israel and anti-Jew, but it’s under a different guise.”

Kosha Dillz is currently touring with Devmo, who is also performing at The Hood Bar and Pizza.

“Devmo is an amazing artist, and she’s a really prolific rapper,” he said. “She’s really likable, and as a human being, I like her. None of us are getting rich out here yet, so I figured I’d bring her out on her first tour. I remember when I went on my first tour with Matisyahu, and it was eight shows. It was an opportunity for us to bring someone, and she has a lot to contribute. If she becomes massive, we can say it started here, and I really think she’s capable of it. I think she deserves it.”

Kosha Dillz is somewhat familiar with the local music scene, he said.

“I’m honestly looking forward to meeting all of your people. … Just in general, it’s exciting to go play in the desert,” he said. “I think people only go out there for Coachella, but I think there’s a great music scene there. I know the Yip Yops, and I met Alf Alpha out there. I played in Palm Springs back in 2007, and I met these people there who were from San Antonio. Whenever I’d come back for Coachella, I’d stay at one of the guy’s houses with his grandma in Palm Desert. This is a town we could do good in, and I think the quality of the show we’re going to bring, people will be blown away by it. Towns like Palm Desert and other small towns like Mobile, Alabama—it’s exciting to go to these places.

Kosha Dillz will perform with Off Kilter, The Bermuda and Devmo at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on the show, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Published in Previews

One performer that received a lot of attention at the kickoff of the Vans Warped Tour in Pomona was Kosha Dillz.

The New Jersey Israeli-American rapper has been the talk of the rap world. During an interview after his performance on Friday, June 19, he discussed where his name came from.

“It came from the pickle jar. It’s basically the combination of being Jewish, business, being a hustler, sex and food—all my favorite things!” said Kosha Dillz.

While some have accused Kosha Dillz of being a gimmick, he said his recent success—including being included on the entire Warped Tour—proves he’s legitimate. He conceded his name does bring him a lot of attention.

“I’m on Warped Tour, and they could have picked anybody. I think that says a lot,” he said. “Whatever people say, we know what we’re doing, and we’ve been doing it long enough that we love to keep people surprised. What I want is to connect to all different kinds of people, and I end up engaging in the most amazing conversations as an artist just because of my name, before they even hear my music.”

I mentioned another atypical Jewish musician: Matisyahu. Dillz shared an interesting perspective on Matisyahu, who started off in the ultra-conservative Hasidic Judaism sect as a Hasidic reggae star before transitioned out of Hasidic Judaism. He is now making pop music.

“I never had a beard, and I was never ultra-religious, and it’s always been a fun-loving experience,” Kosha Dillz said. “Matisyahu is such an amazing artist, and he’s put me on in front of stuff with Macklemore and A$AP Rocky. People ask me about that a lot, but I think his artistry gets deeper and deeper. He’s a human being, so he’s allowed to go through whatever he has to go through. He’s been through a lot in his life. He was the icon for very religious Jews, and people feel like he let them down. The reality is they are looking for something that he was the image of, like Santa Claus or something.”

Kosha Dillz has also worked with many people in the rap game—and even performed on the Yo Gabba Gabba! live tour. Another opportunity he had was performing with RZA at the BET Awards.

“I come from the hip-hop world, so it’s like a goal to open for another rapper, just like it is for a pop-punk band to get on the Warped Tour. Our goal is, ‘We gotta open for Wu-Tang, or this guy, or this guy,’” he said. “That’s a continuance of trying to get to the next level: playing with another MC, and getting respect for your artistry. I ended up working with RZA after years and years of trying to open up for him, and he put me on the BET Awards.”

Dillz said he had his crew faced some challenges going into the tour, but that everything worked out well on Friday. “We were like, ‘How do we construct a 30-minute set?’ By the time that it was over today, it was packed. People were like, ‘What’s he doing? Who is this guy?’”

There are other exciting aspects of playing the festival, according to Dillz.

“It’s meeting with artists you never thought you would meet,” he said. “I met with the guy from Pierce the Veil today, so I’m excited on that level to connect with these guys and have them see my art. A lot of people have heard my name but have never seen me perform.”

The Warped Tour is back, and kicked off Friday, June 19, at the Pomona Fairplex, about 80 miles from Palm Springs.

The lineup was a little different this year: Metalcore came second to only pop-punk. Gone are the days of pure punk.

Shortly after the festival kicked off, the Family Force 5 (below) performed on the Unicorn Stage. The Atlanta “crunk-rock” band, which comes out of the Christian rock scene, was an interesting sight to see; it felt like the early days of !!!, given the band has a dance music element to it. During various songs, people in tiger costumes came out to dance on the stage; fog machines blew huge clouds of smoke; and frontman Jacob Olds at one point played on a second drum set, keeping in sync with drummer Teddy Boldt.

“We thought we’d copy every hipster band in the world that has a million drums,” Olds said.

After Family Force 5, metalcore band Blessthefall appeared on the Shark Stage, which was located directly to the left of the Unicorn Stage. The band had an intense metal sound, and the lead vocals of Jared Warth were a perfect complement—but whenever backing vocalist Beau Bokan began to sing, the lyrics took on a pop-punk sound, killing the metal vibe.

Attila next appeared on the Unicorn Stage—and was the one metal band that didn’t sound like the others. Attila has been credited as having a “nu-metal” sound, in part because frontman Chris Fronzak includes rap in his lyrics, but this band does not belong in the same genre as Korn or Limp Bizkit—Attila has a brutal sound. During the song “Middle Fingers Up,” Fronzak told the crowd, “You can do anything you want in life—just don’t be a fucking bitch!”

On the Monster Stage in the late afternoon, Senses Fail took the stage. The lineup has certainly changed since the band’s formation in 2002. Frontman James Nielsen declared that it was his sixth Warped Tour—but his first while sober. As with many of the other participating metalcore bands, the combination of the pop-punk and metal vocals gave the band a milquetoast feel.

There was only a little bit of variety at this year’s Warped Tour. On the Kevin Says Stage, a band called Baby Baby from Atlanta played to a small crowd. It sounded like a modern day Oingo Boingo, but without a horn section. The band had an upbeat, fun vibe and didn’t really adhere to specific genres.

The Warped Tour this year was missing the Shiragirl Stage, even though Shiragirl performed. (Sadly, the band is only slated to play two dates on the tour.) Stunningly sexy and full of innuendo as always, Shira and her backing dancers and put on one hell of a punk-rock-style pop-music show. (See a photo above.)

Koo Koo Kanga Roo offered up a rather strange performance on the Beatport Stage. The Minnesota duo is known as a children’s entertainment act, even though the two also perform for adults. In what sort of felt like the Aquabats meets Yo Gabba Gabba!, Koo Koo Kanga Roo went into the audience to get some crowd participation. A large circle of people danced in what was called a “modern-day hokey pokey,” and the group brought out a parachute.

Following Koo Koo Kanga Roo was Kosha Dillz. The New Jersey Israeli-American rapper made some interesting demands for crowd participation, such as when he sang a song in Hebrew and Spanish, and asked the crowd to respond, “Yes, Yes,” after singing the chorus. He also asked for people’s personal items, saying, “I’ll give them back,” as people passed him a pocket watch, a bag of ice, a prophylactic from the Trojan Condoms booth, a dollar bill and other various things. He freestyle-rapped and included a line about every item given to him.

Later, a duo named Drama Club—clad in feminine-looking white masks, and with long black hair— appeared on the Beatport Stage. It was hard to figure out what it was they were doing; the duo had a DJ setup, keyboards, a bass guitar and a set of drums, and the music was all over the place. While the group sounded interesting at times, the show didn’t make sense, and people appeared to lose interest after a while.

While the Warped Tour is applauded as being cheap to attend, it’s not without its critics, upset over the seeming exclusion of the punk rock element that gave birth to the tour. Another thing worth criticizing: Attendees need to purchase a schedule. That’s right: Want to know what’s going on? That’ll be $2. Also, the layout of the Pomona festival didn’t make sense. There were narrow walkways and lines for the food vendors melding with overflow from the stage area.

The odd mix of vendor tents is amusing: PETA, the U.S. Army, Trojan Condoms, IAmSecond.com and Full Sail University were all on site, as were Straight Edge Lifestyle clothing vendors and Hare Krishnas passing out fliers. You can find yourself in a dilemma: Should one join the Army, become a vegan, enroll in an online university, or accept Jesus?

All in all, despite some impressive performances, the tour was an odd and less than rewarding experience. It just didn’t make sense.

Published in Reviews