At least until very recently, rappers performing at lavish Bar Mitzvahs—the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony—was one of those weirdly unspoken taboos of rap: An incredibly lucrative way to make quick, easy money, that nobody wanted to talk about, let alone have evidence of. Why?
Well, for one thing, to take money to perform for a bunch of barely pubescent children (literally: 13-year-old children) doesn't really do much to, say, firm up one's reputation in the streets. And when so many rappers' reps are so connected to how much they've caked up, when they're taking money to perform at children's birthday parties (no matter how much money they're taking), their bank accounts still pale in comparison to the people booking them.
But between Rick Ross' recent The Black Bar Mitzvah mixtape and Drake's Bar Mitzvah-themed video for "HYFR," the topic might be losing a little of the scandalous sheen it's previously held. But then again, after getting the full visual on some of the following pictures and videos—some of which have never publicly appeared, previously—it could require revisiting. Either way, one thing's certain: These kids and their parties became the stuff of legends...that need to be put on the Internet.
These are Great Moments in Rappers Performing at Bar Mitzvah Parties. Mazel tov, B.
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Drake, at Andrew Zucker's Bar Mitzvah
Where: The Four Seasons Restaurant (New York)
Date: May 7, 2011
Songs Performed: "Best I Ever Had," "What's My Name," and "Over," among others.
1. This bar mitzvah, for the kid of former NBC chairman Jeff Zucker, was supposed to be played by Kanye West. Yeezy wanted a million. Drake undercut him, playing the show for $250 G's.
2. Drake's speeches between songs during this were straight up incredible. If you think the Take Care interludes are inspirational, may we suggest fast-fowarding to 3:55 in the above video, which, as of this writing, has only been seen by a handful of people?
"Tonight, this is your moment. I want to let you know: You're now a man. So I want to encourage you, man, to make the right decisions. Pick your friends wisely. It seems like you got a lot of great people around you that love you. I want you to take a lot of wisdom from the people in this room, too. [...] To all my young Jewish men, keep being great Jewish men. I'mma do the same."
T.I. at Adam Katzman's Bar Mitzvah
50 Cent, at Elizabeth Brooks's Bat Mitzvah
Where: The Rainbow Room, Rockefeller Center (New York)
Date: November 26, 2005
Songs Performed: Among others, "In Da Club," with the lyrics changed to "Go shorty/It's your bat mitzvah/We gonna party like it's your bat mitzvah." Couldn't make this shit up if we tried.
Other Guests: Oh, you know: Aerosmith, Ciara, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Don Henley, and Kenny G. As performers.
The Swag Bags: Were reportedly worth upwards of $1,000 for each of Elizabeth's friends. And were jam-packed with iPods, digital cameras, you know, normal party bag stuff.
The Performance: The New York Daily News had what could only be described as a classic report on the matter:
At one point, I'm told, one of Fitty's beefy bodyguards blocked shots of his boss performing and batted down the kids' cameras, shouting "No pictures! No pictures!" even preventing Brooks' personal videographers and photographers from capturing 50 Cent's bat-miztvah moment. "Fitty and his posse smelled like an open bottle of Hennessy," a witness told told me, adding that when the departing rapper prepared to enter his limo in the loading dock, a naked woman was spotted inside.
Sorry, Fif. These pictures were bound to end up resurfacing. You don't just walk away with a $500,000 paycheck for five songs and expect someone not to take a picture.
The Ending: So by now, you're probably wondering where all that money came from, no? Try: Being a maker of bulletproof vests for the Iraq War, and not just bulletproof vests, but bulletproof vests that faced a recall. As for the proud father, David H. Brooks—a man who was once called "America's most ostentatious war profiteer"—he ended up being charged with a whole bunch of securities fraud violations and was later convicted of most of them. Goes without saying, but Fitty got to keep his blood money.
Snoop Dogg, at Mark Chaplin's Bar Mitzvah
Ja Rule, at Amber Ridinger's Bat Mitzvah
Where: The Forge Nightclub (Miami)
Date: November 12, 2005
Other Notable Guests: Including (but not limited to!) Ashanti, Irv Gotti (yes: Irv Gotti), Marques Houston, Omarion, Mike Piazza, and DJ AM.
Songs Performed: Among others, "Always on Time" and "Livin' It Up."
Actual Factuals, Part 2: So were, for some inexplicable reason, Oompa Loompas (see above).
Actual Factuals, Part 3: Ja Rule told his audience:
"I'm Uncle Ja," he said, with his arm wrapped around a beaming Amber. "I'm really here just to scare all the little boys, the little 13-year-old bad boys that try to hit on little Amber. That's why I'm here."