Shay Litman photographed by Dudi Hasson

this 16-year-old is rapping on the streets of tel aviv

Photographer Dudi Hasson discovered Shay Litman rapping on the street and knew right away he wanted to capture his precious talent.

by Clementine de Pressigny; photos by Dudi Hasson
16 April 2018, 3:08pm

Shay Litman photographed by Dudi Hasson

Shay Litman is 16 years old and lives in Tel Aviv. He’s shy and won’t give much away. He raps in Hebrew over songs he writes in his bedroom. Two years ago he stole a small organ from school, which he uses to make songs. Shay first got into rapping freestyle with his friends. The first song he released, he did in 5 minutes. He thought it sucked but the reaction he got to it was good, so he keep going with it. His musical idols are Tyler, The Creator, Lil Ugly Mane, Yasmin Leselrot and gcg737. With his music, Shay wants to put out a feeling that people can connect to. His songs are always about himself in different shapes — about girlfriends, his body, drugs, the city he lives in, his relationship with his family. The first time Shay rapped in front of others he felt embarrassed, but people gave him money, so he kept going. He still finds it a bit embarrassing. But Shay says it also feels amazing to share his music with others, to see how it affects people.

Photographer Dudi Hasson on Shay:

The first time I saw Shay was in the street while he was rapping. Later on I saw him in a bar, where people play live music to a local audience, as well as being broadcast on the radio. I asked him if I could photograph him and he responded by saying he would, but only if I’d buy him pizza.

I was really impressed by Shay’s songwriting, it's so strong and mature for his age. As soon as I met him I knew that I wanted to work on a personal project with him. I was really drawn to the contrast between his creative maturity and his young age.

It will be really interesting for me to see what will happen next for Shay, where the future could take him. He is a sharp, brilliant kid who’s unlike any I’ve met before. I think Shay will succeed in whatever he decides to do — be that rapping or painting. He’s a star. What I wanted to pass on through our shoot — what he gives off — is a sense of determination, that everyone can be who they really are. You don't need to look a particular way to look brilliant in a photoshoot.

After spending time with Shay I realized that he is constantly testing and exploring his environment and interactions with people around him. His personality is very magnetic, his fast reactions and endless curiosity are great to watch. Shay offered plenty of opinions and criticism while we were shooting, sharing his thoughts about every aspect. He likes to keep busy and is always working on projects, so it was hard for him to devote himself to the story that I wanted to create, but we managed to finish this project together, over 3 days of shooting. Shay seems pretty pleased with the results.


Photographer Dudi Hasson
Assistant Photographer Noy Dekel
Styling Shay Lee Nissim
Model Shay Litman

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

Tel Aviv
shay litman