There are so many times in life when we walk by someone with an extraordinarily awesome skill and wish we could learn how to do it too. Be it the street performer performing for the masses, or a skateboarder not tumbling to his death, or even the girl singing beautifully down the hall of your dorm; we all know the feeling of wanting to be legitimately great at something. Most of us just have fleeting thoughts of learning a fun skill, yet never bother to put in the effort, but others, like self-taught beatboxer Josh Leviton, take action to hone their amazing skills.
Josh Leviton, “The Orthobox”, an orthodox Jewish boxer on campus is a busy freshman Aerospace Engineering major (“busy”, “engineering”…redundant, I’m aware.) The Orthobox wasn’t born a beatboxing genius, but in high school he took on the challenge and began teaching himself the skill.
“I had free time and I liked music,” Leviton said, describing how he got into beatboxing. “I saw Matisyahu doing it and I thought I could do it better. Just kidding, I saw him doing it and I thought it was cool.”
Leviton took a gap year before starting at UMD to study in a yeshiva in Israel. During his time in Israel, Leviton raised and donated over $600 while street performing in Jerusalem. A large chunk of his earnings went to poor families in Jerusalem. Leviton also sent $130 to his parents for a surgery for their sick puppy.
“I respect him as an artist because he maintains his personal integrity,” freshman Eitan Goodman, a friend and fan, said.
Leviton cites Matisyahu, dubstep, and, in his classically sarcastic humor “the country of Europe. Yes, the country,” as his musical inspirations. Unlike Matisyahu, he doesn’t see beatboxing translating into a full time career path; however, he hopes to maintain his hobby as a fruitful side business venture.
“I’ve gotten free milkshakes and free coca colas. Oh and marriage proposals,” Leviton said, explaining some perks he’s received through his performances.
“But really the coolest thing is the fact that you can make music without external things. The fact that you can be a musical instrument by yourself, “ Leviton said.
Leviton’s fans could not agree more, “It’s impossible not to groove to his beats. You can’t help but bob your head,” Jacob Schulman, a UMD junior, said.
Leviton’s perseverance took a lot of effort and determination, but he succeeded in excelling as a self-taught beatboxer through trial and error, practice, and ignoring initial negativity from less than enthusiastic friends and family.
“Watch a lot of Youtube videos. And disregard what everyone says for the first bit because you are going to start out sucking, but you have to push through that stage,” Leviton said, sharing priceless advice for other aspiring beatboxers. “Remember that even Jimi Hendrix couldn’t always play guitar so well.”
If you’re interested in seeing Leviton perform live, check out the American Beatbox Championship in New York this August. In the meantime, check out his Youtube channel for some clips of Leviton performing on-campus and abroad.