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Back to Hebrew school with the “gangstaz of hilarity”

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MC Ethel
Photo: Sarah Feldberg

The Gangstaz of Hilarity

Up on stage MC Ethel raises a loaf of perfectly browned challah above the crowd.

The first in a series of props used throughout FA-COCK-TA’s CD release show for their debut album Loxstars, the bread and the blessing performed on it by one of the band member’s fathers provide the single traditional moment of the evening at The Beatles’ Revolution Lounge.

If you left after that introduction, you might have the impression that FA-COCK-TA, likely Las Vegas’ only Jewish hip hop group, is actually a religious band along the lines of Christian rockers like Live or Jars of Clay.

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But that would mean you’d missed the rest of the band’s props: the seven layer cake, the beach chairs, the toy gun and the massive black dildo.

After listening to the trio, whose comedic songs infuse references to Judaism with plenty of humor, sexual innuendo and a peppering of Yiddish, it’s clear their music is anything but Rabbi-sanctioned praise-the-Lord vehicles.

In a bastardized version of the “Hannukkah Song” set to a MTV-worthy hip hop beat by DJ Avi D.O.G., Jewish Dave raps, “Oh Hannukkah, oh Hannukkah come light the menorah/Let’s have a party we’ll all dance the hora. Gather ‘round the table/we’ll give you a treat. You got my balls to play with/I got you to eat.”

Self-described as “intentionally raunchy and a complete affront to anything conservative,” FA-COCK-TA’s show is full of Jew-isms. From the challah, to the platters of bagels and cream cheese set out on all the guests’ tables, to the lyrics of songs like “Nice Jewish Girls” and “The Deli,” attending their show as a Jew is a bit like being in on an hour-long inside joke. And a dirty one, at that.

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“Nice Jewish girls,” croons Ethel. “Just because we’re not trashy doesn’t mean we’re not slutty.”

The line describes about half the kids I grew up with.

Semitic sex jokes are a staple in the band’s music. “We be Shtoopin’” is an entire song is dedicated to Jews in the bedroom.

Listening to FA-COCK-TA as a non-Jew is a crash course in Jewish-American culture. It’s all there – the matzo ball soup, the relatives fleeing to Florida, the family burden of hefty thighs and a love of smoked fish.

There’s even a shout out to venerable New York bagel shop H&H Bagels.

“I haven’t been to temple since my bar mitzvah,” says Jewish Dave, the curly-haired rapper who sports swinging gold chains, a flashy Star of David and a puffy hip hopper’s jacket during the performance. “That being said, we’re definitely all Jewish. Absolutely. I don’t want anyone to think that we’re not.”

“We’re culturally Jewish,” stresses Ethel, the dominating personality in the group who assumes the role of a 52-year-old South Florida Jewish cougar on stage. Running around in gold lame tights and one of the band’s tank tops bearing an image of Mel Gibson above the word “Schmuck,” Ethel’s strong singing provides the group a level of musical legitimacy.

While the show is at least as much comedic shtick as it is concert, the songs off Loxstars are genuinely catchy. The witty and borderline offensive hooks get stuck in my head for days.

"I always say that when I’m writing my lines, if I’m gonna be embarrassed that my parents are gonna know the words and rap along,” Jewish Dave pauses, “then I'm on the right track.”

Give yourself a pat on the back, Dave.

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