The Promised Land
In 2013, Khen Rotem, who records as Israeli hip hop artist Sagol 59, decided to adapt Robert Hunter's Grateful Dead lyrics into Hebrew for a full-length album. He mentioned the idea to folk singer - Ami Yares, a New Jersey native and longtime Israeli resident, who was immediately on board. Rotem spent approximately 18 months translating the lyrics from English into Hebrew. He had previously translated songs by Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Frank Zappa into Hebrew. The resulting album, The Promised Land, a collaboration between Sagol 59 and Yares, was the first album featuring Hebrew versions of Grateful Dead songs. With his translations, Rotem said he attempted to keep the phonetics of the lyrics intact as much as possible, choosing the band's more approachable songs. Rotem did take some liberties in his translations, such as changing the names of US cities and neighborhoods to Israeli ones, and changing the meaning of certain words to fit the correct number of syllables. The musical compositions remain true to the original versions.
The album was followed, in August 2015, by The Promised Land Acoustic Sessions EP, which contained three additional recordings: Hebrew renditions of "Ripple", "Brown Eyed Women" and "Friend of The Devil". "The Pita Tapes" followed in March 2016, containing two unreleased demo recordings of songs often covered by The Grateful Dead and Garcia ("Mama Tried" and "Catfish John"). A nine-track limited edition Vinyl LP was released on April 2016. On August 1, 2016, studio recordings of "Deep Elem Blues" and "Half-Step Mississippi Uptown Toodeloo" were released digitally, to coincide with Garcia's birthday.
The album was recorded in Israel and the United States. The project was officially authorized by The Grateful Dead's publishing company.
Since crashing into Israel's burgeoning hip-hop scene with his 2000 debut (Recorded between 1993-1999), Israeli Hip Hop pioneer Sagol 59 has built a formidable reputation as an honest, unflinching, clever, articulate and highly original MC. boasting 4 Full-Length Albums to date, plenty of musical collaborations with diverse artists and many live shows in Israel and overseas (U.S, Europe), Sagol has anticipated Israel's current Rap boom and cemented his position as one of its most outspoken and talented leaders. Sagol also hosts the monthly Corner Prophets/Old Jeruz Cipher Hip Hop events, taking place in Jerusalem and showcasing both established and up-and-coming artists. Sagol's latest album, The Hip Hop Einstein, was released March 1st 2006 on NMC Records. Make Room, Sagol's first international album, was released May 2008 on New York's JDub Records. Main Releases: 2000 - The Blue Period (Fact Records) 2002 - Where Did We Go Wrong (Fact Records / MCI) 2003 - Reason To Die E.P (9 Records) 2003 - The Two Sides Of Purple 59 (NMC Records) 2006 - Hip Hop Einstein (NMC Records) 2008 - Make Room (JDub Records)