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Max rented an apartment on West 110th Street in 1994, after leaving Connecticut College behind for Columbia, and turned the place into a music studio. Soon Sam was at Max's elbow, wordplaying for all he was worth in that detached Hebrew hip-hop hitman persona he created for his rap and TV audiences. Sam too was going to Columbia--well, occasionally--having chosen to devour all 37 of Shakespeare's plays on his own rather than in a classroom. Off the two brothers would stroll, ball caps on backward, ending up on a corner or in a park among strangers giving each other the eye. You spit? somebody would ask. Yeah. You spit? And suddenly a circle would form and a rapper would start kicking rhymes until a challenger took his place. Max could get ooohs and ahhhhs in the circle. But Sam could make the circle bust up, fall out: Oh s---, you hear that white boy spit?
One day Sam suddenly started rat-tat-tatting homemade verses at the gym.
Don't waste a single tic
With a clever little quip
Like a stupid-ass villain in an action flick
Give me just enough time to react and flip
Shoulda done me when you had me, dick
I'll gladly rip any rapper in half
Like a bad first draft....
Say what? Scrawny smart white boy from the Village could gush rhymes like he was turning on a faucet. In the midst of one spray, Sam slipped in a ringer.