Some rappers boast of their impossibly expensive Rolexes, and others brag about their SUVs, their women, and other flashy accoutrements of success. But 29-year-old Remedy, who’s the only white member of the Staten Island-based Wu-Tang Clan’s “extended family,” takes pride in something more suited to the UJA than to DMX. “I got invited to L.A. to play for this synagogue of 2,000 congregants,” says Remedy (born Ross Filler). “Later, I got to break the fast with Loud Records CEO Steven Rifkind. That was ill.”
Remedy wasn’t concocted by the ADL to make Jewish pride hip for white teenagers in baggy pants. He actually went to high school with Wu-Tang members Raekwon and Method Man. Not that that made things much easier. “I’ve been pushing demos on the RZA and Ghostface Killah since ‘92,” Remedy says.
It wasn’t until 1998, though, that he earned a spot on the Wu-Tang Killa Bees compilation. While the album was mostly uninspired, Remedy’s contribution, “Never Again,” was unforgettable. Galvanized by a search into his family tree that revealed the deaths of several relatives at the hands of the Nazis, he rhymed, “My own blood / dragged through the mud / perished in my heart / still cherished and loved.” It’s hip-hop’s Maus, surprisingly moving, and in an unexpected medium.
It also sampled not only Schindler’s List but the Israeli National Anthem and the Holocaust mini-series. And on his recently released solo debut, The Genuine Article – which hit No. 3 on Billboard’s “Heatseekers” chart – the rapper turns his Hebrew name into a macho boast (“Reuven Ben Menachum / Block ‘em! Block ‘em!”) and offers a shout-out to the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem. Remedy will explore yet another chapter of Jewish history (the Passover-inspired cut “Exodus”) on an upcoming Wu-Tang compilation, The Flood. “But I don’t wanna be known for just being down for the Jews,” he says, adjusting his thick gold necklace with its diamond-encrusted chai: “I’m here to represent humanity.”
Either way, RZA is happy. “I see him as an artist who will educate his people,” the Wu-Tang leader says. “Just as we have done with ours.”