Do you have a microphone? A boom box? Musical talent?
Add the drive of that overachiever you hated in high school to the above trifecta, and you could make a career for yourself street performing, as Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz has so cleverly managed to do.
But this silly prank is not why he wants to be on our radar. He boasts,
I think my music is dope as fuck. When I write, I really write. Great songs. Great beats.
Dillz is no ordinary rapper; he rhymes in three languages: English, Hebrew and Spanish.
He’s proud of his heritage, and it shows. Around his neck he wears a shiny gold necklace with the Star of David. He says,
I’m Jewish and I rap about Jewish shit and Israel shit. I’m the Jewish rapper. It brought out that discussion that what I do is different from everyone else.
At least once a year, Dillz visits the land of his ancestors.
“It’s never scary to be in Israel,” he says. “There’s no place like home.”
The rapper may be average-sized, but his confidence is certainly not. At 34, he’s already proven to himself that he’s capable of pretty much anything.
“You’ll see me in a dark corner and I’ll be rapping, and you could be throwing rocks, and I wouldn’t care,” he says.
Dillz grew up in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where he wasn’t considered one of the cool kids, so to speak.
“None of us were,” he says, referring to the artists he knows. “We always felt socially awkward, so we wrote.”
But he found himself engaging in another extracurricular activity as well: drug-dealing.
Like many who choose this not-so-constructive path, he started getting into scrapes with the law, two of which landed him in jail.
His first stint didn’t have an impact, besides introducing him to new associates with whom to conduct business. But he calls his second time behind bars an “emotional low.”
“I haven’t gotten high since,” he says, adding the caveat that he’s pro-weed even though he doesn’t smoke it. “When I got clean, things just started falling my way.”
The rapper relocated to the City of Angels five years ago. And let’s just say that the locale has earned its nickname in his eyes. Dillz’s guardian angels keep presenting him with one opportunity after the next. As he says,
Moving to LA has made me six figures, just off power moves.
He scored a spot on the Warped Tour in 2015 and has a showcase at SXSW in Austin on March 17. But his forte — and perhaps most lucrative skill — is street performing.
Most recently, he says he made $50,000 rapping outside the Grammys, a performance that drew a serious crowd, which included the likes of actor Jared Leto.
Rap is a proving ground, an opportunity to convince people to believe in you.
Dillz likens street performing to “walking into a place, getting up in front of a bunch of people, and just rapping.”
“It’s really awkward,” says Dillz. “But I gotta get out and rap because I’m a rapper.”
If you’re a career artist, you’ve probably at some point been told to “get a real job.” But Dillz is proof that perseverance pays off, especially when it comes to unconventional career paths. Dillz advises,
At every moment, you need to keep creating, even when you don’t want to create. It’s never too late to start your day over.
His investments and hard work have paid off, though. On several occasions, he’s been approached by interested record labels.
“I was a hustler from the start,” says Dillz. “I haven’t lost my hustle just ‘cause I stopped selling drugs. Now I hustle my music.”