What Chutzpah!


Is Chutzpah for real?

Chutzpah is a self-proclaimed “Jewish supergroup”–a hip-hop outfit composed of three Jewish men in their 50s (more or less), wearing tracksuits and oversize sunglasses. The 2005 film Chutzpah, This Is? follows the band through a series of recording sessions, concerts, and funny misadventures (see a preview of the film, below).

Master Tav, MC Meshugenah, and Dr. Dreck rap about everything from the State of Israel to someone’s “J-status” (whether or not they’re Jewish) to defending their “shtetl credibility.” Filmed in the style of a documentary, the over-the-top characterizations and obviously-exaggerated accents of the stars make it apparent that a band like Chutzpah would never actually exist.

Except, of course, that it does. Not only are the band members real people (Tav is a founder of the kids’ music festival Kidapalooza, and has composed for Lou Rawls and Samuel L. Jackson), but Chutzpah has also released two CDs, Eponymous and Hip-Hop Fantasy, featuring cameos from everyone from a Chabad rabbi to actor Gary Oldman. (Oldman also directed a music video for the band, filmed entirely on mobile phones.)

Chutzpah’s songs are hit-and-miss. Some are playfully self-parodying; others are stereotypical enough to make you cringe. The film, however, is loaded with honest moments–such as when Dr. Dreck coaches Tav’s performance (“Just take your time with the words,” he says; moments later, Tav belts out the Yiddish folk song “Dona Dona“)–that make the film Chutzpah, This Is? both funny and unexpectedly endearing.

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