You could call it a stroke of luck.
Second-year political science student Raquel Saxe had flown to New Orleans this past fall for a Jewish convention when a chance encounter led her to meet several people connected to Jewish hip-hop artists Y-Love and Diwon.
Two quarters later, the Jewish Leadership Council at UCLA will present its first Above the Noise benefit concert, featuring Diwon and Y-Love, on Sunday evening. The concert will conclude a series of campus celebrations for Israel Independence Week.
Both Yitzchak “Y-Love” Jordan and Diwon have gained popularity in New York as Jewish hip-hop artists. Y-Love is known for intertwining English, Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic and Latin while rapping about the social issues and the scripture that led to his conversion to Hasidic Judaism from Catholicism.
Diwon blends rap with sounds influenced by his mother’s native Yemen, along with such varying influences as La Roux and Snoop Dogg.
Saxe, a member of the Jewish Leadership Council, said she chose the artists to perform because she felt they would appeal to students beyond the Jewish community.
“We didn’t go with folklore or Jewish community singers for a reason,” Saxe said. “We went with this hip-hop, very contemporary music because we know that’s what will appeal to students today. And they both work on a message of unity, which is the message of our concert.”
Both Diwon and Y-Love carry an uplifting message of unity and having a purpose in the world through their lyrics.
Along with Diwon and Y-Love, UCLA’s Fusion Music Group and Awaken A Cappella will perform.
The concert will also feature films, which draw attention to the work of Jewish Heart in Africa.
Desiree Soleymani, a third-year psychology student and member of the Jewish Leadership Council, said that Above the Noise is meant to raise donations and inform students of the work done by Jewish Heart for Africa, which brings Israeli technology to remote African villages, polio vaccines, clean water and medical technology.
“For some of the organizations involved in the Jewish Leadership Council, they have very close ties to Israel,” Saxe said. “We thought we would have the most impact … tying in our connection to Israel, and the positive (areas in which Israel has prospered) and give it to communities who need that help.”
Aside from being simply another concert, the Above the Noise benefit concert is meant to do a great deal more than just feature music or other activities, said David Bocarsly, a second-year business economics student and member of the Jewish Leadership Council.
“We want students to walk away saying, “˜Wow, Jewish Heart for Africa does so much, and I didn’t even know about it,’” Soleymani said.
“We really just want to unite the whole campus around this cause, and the amazing environmental and humanitarian achievements this organization has done.”
Soleymani said she was impressed with the cooperation of all groups represented by the Jewish Leadership Council for bringing together such an influential event so seamlessly.
“At UCLA we’re lucky because our campus is so large, and there are so many groups to be a part of,” Soleymani said.
“But sometimes, it’s very easy to stay in your own group. I’m just excited that all of us are standing together for this one cause and bringing it to the whole campus.”