NEW YORK - Most interviews with up-and-coming rappers don't take place in Brooklyn religious learning centers.
But DeScribe isn't your typical rapper.
The 28-year-old hip-hop artist, who recently released the single "Pure Soul" and has an EP coming out in June, doesn't wear gold chains or rap about fast cars, loose women and expensive booze.
That's because DeScribe (real name Shneur Hasofer) is an observant, Hasidic Jew.
"For many, a humble rapper is paradox," he says from the basement of the Aliya youth institute in Crown Heights, where he recently set up a recording studio to give young people experience in the business. "But music is a neutral energy that can be channeled negatively or positively. My message is to appreciate life. The world needs more light."
Born and raised in a Chabad Hasidic family in Australia, DeScribe's message wasn't always so positive.
He moved to Jerusalem when he was a teenager and joined the Israeli army as a sharpshooter. Once out of the army, DeScribe says, he lost his way.
"I left the Hasidic way of life and did a lot of stupid things when I was younger," he says. "I was immersed in the streets and the drug trade. I was doing a lot of illegal stuff, and suddenly my companies got shut down, my money was frozen and my apartment was taken away. No joke, there were people that wanted to take me out."
Scared, penniless and without a home, the bearded artist had an awakening.
According DeScribe, "I figured out I went wrong because of my ego and I needed to alter the whole way I thought. I realized that everything is for the good and that I had a purpose in this world, even if I didn't know what that purpose was."
So he moved to Brooklyn to study with the elders at a yeshiva in Sea Gate, where he discovered hip hop as a form of expression.
"Someone gave me a laptop and I started messing around and making tracks," he says. "The crazy part was that people actually liked the tracks. Suddenly it clicked; I had found my calling."
DeScribe convinced the rabbi to allow him to build a studio in the yeshiva and he started laying down tracks. His fellow yeshiva students loved his music, but his career did not take off.
"My music stunk back then, but I thought it was the best thing since fried chips," says the burly rapper, who grew up listening to Biggie Smalls, Cypress Hill and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. "I spent two years agonizing over how to make my music better. It was very tough at first."