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Give Me the Beat Boys and Free My Soul

Beatboxers ‘Ilan and Josh,’ who met in Israel at the Western Wall, impressed the judges of NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent’

Jesse Bernstein
July 06, 2016
Ilan and Josh performing on 'America's Got Talent.'YouTube
Ilan and Josh performing on 'America's Got Talent.'YouTube

Beatboxing duo and friends Ilan Swartz-Brownstein and Joshua Shlomo Mendel Leviton made a smart choice to call themselves “Ilan and Josh,” because their full names are a mouthful even for members of the Tribe, let alone Gentiles.

Though they “don’t look like your typical beatboxers,” as stated during the duo’s audition on America’s Got Talent, make no mistake: these young men can flat-out spit. Tuesday’s performance was received with thunderous applause from the audience and four “yes” votes from the celebrity judges.

Based in New York, Ilan and Josh met a few years ago at the Kotel. From there, they hit it off. Leviton, who also calls himself “The Orthobox,” provides the beat (he’s even performed with The Maccabeats); meanwhile, Brownstein (aka “The Aleph Bass”), an aspiring religious singer, spits the tune to their creations. Here’s their audition video, posted back in November.

Brownstein, 22, is an Alaska native who grew up in Oregon. He’s a student at Yeshiva University in New York and a member of a campus a cappella group called “Y-Studs.” Below, you can spot him in their 2014 song, “Seder” (set to Michael Jackson,’s “Thriller”).

Brownstein’s YouTube channel also has a selection of his solo beatboxing work, and though I’m a little fuzzy on the criterion for evaluating beatboxers, it seems like the dude knows what he’s doing.

Leviton’s story is interesting too. You can find videos of him beatboxing live as well (see here during a University of Maryland a cappella show). He’s also a slam poet. Below, watch him describe his religious journey in 2014, in a piece called “The Itch for Truth”:

Ilan and Josh’s performance pushed them into the next round, which begins July 12 on NBC. Hopefully they can continue to wow and keep the beat rocking.

Jesse Bernstein is a former Intern at Tablet.