Eden Derso is amazing. Seriously. The 21-year-old Ethiopian Israeli rapper recently broke through with a profile in American Vogue, and since then, we haven’t been able to stop listening to her music.
So, here are 18 things to know about this soon-to-be superstar:
1. Is it Eden Derso, Eden Dersso, or Eden Darso? English-language publications can’t seem to decide, but we’re going with Eden Derso, the spelling that makes most sense when you translate עדן דרסו (her name in Hebrew). (Even though her Instagram is @edendersso, on Spotify and Apple Music she’s “Eden Derso.”)
2. She was born and raised in Rehovot, a city south of Tel Aviv, Israel. Her family immigrated from Ethiopia in 1992.
3. She is the youngest of seven children; she has five older brothers and one older sister.
4. “I am the youngest rapper [in Israel], so I always talk about it. I always rap that I am better than a man because they need to know. They need to know that a girl can do it better than them, and they don’t,” she told Vogue. “They expect me to come out sounding like Beyoncé, but I’m more like Tupac. And then I spit, I spit my heart out.”
5. She often performs while wearing a fanny pack (which… #goals)
6. She originally started rapping in English, but switched to Hebrew because “in Hebrew my vocabulary is much wider than in English.” She explains that initially, “In Hebrew it didn’t sound right, it sounded like imitation. But then I started to listen to Nechi Nech and said to myself, ok. Someone is doing it right. That’s how I started in Hebrew. It sounds right when it’s yours, when you don’t imitate Tupac, when you bring yourself.”
7. Her debut album is called Keter Shakuf (כתר שקוף) which translates to “Transparent Crown.” (She released it with DJ Mesh, a Tel Aviv producer.)
(That’s him in the Insta!)
8. Why “Transparent Crown”? As an Ethiopian Jew, she explains, “I know we live in a time where our color is considered a threat, but I choose that my music will focus on how beautiful we are, and [that] could be because I truly believe we have a transparent crown on our head.”
9. On the titular track, she raps “I’m New Age Queen of Sheba / Even those who do not feel me feel the love.” Beta Israel communities (Ethiopian Jews) sometimes regard themselves as descended from the Queen of Sheba.
10. Here’s one music video off Transparent Crown, for the track “Buses“:
11. With regard to “Buses,” Eden Derso raps the Hebrew word for buses in the female form, not male. One interviewer asked, “Are you playing with the Hebrew on purpose? Maybe it’s some type of rebellion against the correct language, the elitist, the ‘upright’? Or am I reading too much into it?”
She responded, “If you ask me how many buses are in front of me, I’ll probably say three (in the female form) and not three (in the male form), cause that’s the way I talk, and I’m not going to change anything for accuracy. Cause you know I meant three (in male form), it’s not like the bus suddenly grew boobs. There was no purposeful statement, but when I was started getting comments telling me to change every time I make a mistake… I firmly refused. I realized that I do stand behind it.”
12. She sometimes feels caught between her Ethiopian and Israeli identities, explaining, “I feel so Israeli, but I also felt very Ethiopian, but I wasn’t even there [in Ethiopia]. I wasn’t even born there, but the culture, the neighborhood, my mom… I felt too Ethiopian in my hood, but in school I felt like I was letting go of my Ethiopian side. I always had that struggle.”
13. She served as an operation sergeant in the IDF.
(This caption says “Shabbat Shalom from Preda Unit.”)
14. When she released Transparent Crown, she wrote on Facebook, “A black, 20 year old woman, singing and rapping and just coming to [show] that a woman can also be the best rapper in Israel…. Transparent Crown is out and I’m proud of the journey I’ve been through, I never believed that I would release my album before finishing my military service!”
15. Her brother, Assaf Derso, is a photographer, and his pictures of her are amazing (and he’s so proud of her!):
(Note he hashtags their last name as Derso, not Dersso!!!)
16. Here’s another music video that she filmed in Ethiopia:
17. Objectively, she is cooler than you, me, all of us (and her instagram is 🔥🔥🔥):
18. To end, Eden Derso said, “I always joke and say: ‘I’ll act, I’ll sing, I’ll model.’ But at the end of the day what I really want is that a little girl will see a face like hers on the screen.”
In another interview, she expanded on this, saying, “I want to be everywhere for everyone to see, acknowledge, and respect what I do, because I would have loved to see a black woman spinning this country when I was a child. I want Israel to eventually be sick of my face.”
We can’t *wait* for Eden Derso to be everywhere!!
Much thanks to Hane Grace Yagel for help with the Hebrew-to-English translation for this piece. Images of Eden Derso in header from Eden’s Instagram.