I’ve got a couple of hours to myself this afternoon and searched Netflix for their music documentaries. I almost picked How To Grow A Band but chose The Socalled Movie since I know less about Socalled and it seemed more quirky and interesting.(Yes, somehow more quirky and interesting than The Punch Brothers).
Socalled is the stage name of Josh Dolgin, a white Canadian rapper and producer who has put out a few albums including Ghettoblaster, the one I know and like.
His musical palette sounds something like this: a funk backdrop gives way to Hasidic flavored hip-hop with accordion and accompanying bluegrass guest vocals, and the occasional Baltic traditional theme.
Really. He hits them all, and it actually works.
So far he has explained how his name came about: in high school he had a hip-hop group and chose the moniker of “Heavy J” – though he was not heavy either in skills or physicality – “A ridiculous name” he recounts in French, while on the phone with a reporter from Montreal. Because of the ill-fitting name, he earned the moniker “Socalled Heavy J” and when he began to record his first records, just dropped the ridiculous part.
He talks about the music that inspires him, how not to get sued when you sample (basically speed it up, change the key and mix it with another sample), and shares a lot of his views on religion, culture, technology, morality, and modern life in general. He’s honest while staying light-hearted and witty. (Socalled would not be mistaken for a dour, serious person).
Right now on screen there is a montage of clarinet players and some Yiddish operatic songs of some kind.
So it’s the Socalled Movie and I think you’ll like it. Here’s my favorite track of my limited collection of his, my favorite if for no other reason than the very first spoken line.