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3/08/2006

MATISYAHU: JEWLICIOUS REGGAE FUSION

Hasidic Jew Matisyahu's debut disc "Youth" dropped yesterday to much attention and mixed reviews. The attention comes from the sideshow spectacle that a pale skinned Jewish reggae singer is bound to be. Draws a crowd.

The mixed reviews come as the predictable result of critics and fans used to feasting on the predictable sitting down to a feast of the the unique - a musical fusion made possible by shared struggle. Matisyahu's renditions of Jewish scriptures sung in Jamaican dialect over reggae grooves are an acquired taste no doubt but not a completely nonsensical concoction considering that the two legacies coming together in his music - Jamaican and Jewish - have as much in common as not.

Sure Marley never celebrated Chanukah and Matisyahu doesn't wait for the Rastafarian Messiah to come out of Africa, but both reggae's newcomer and the king of the genre descend from peoples burdened and inspired by persecution and enslavement of similar kinds, though not magnitudes. Both peoples struggled under the weight of oppressive governments and poverty and found themselves the minority in their lands and in the world at large. They found their faiths laughed at and their rulers corrupt. From this common history, one of slavery and strife and seeming powerlessness, is birthed today the hopeful and truthful new fusion of Hasidic Reggae found on "Youth".

Faith forms the foundation of most music from oppressed peoples throughout history. And it's what holds "Youth"'s fusion of Jamaican and Jewish together. It's what Marley and Matisyahu have in common. "I don't stand for the black man's side, I don't stand for the white man's side. I stand for God's side," said Marley. Now It's Matisyahu's turn to stand.

Read Rolling Stone's review of "Youth" here. And watch Matisyahu perform "King Without A Crown" live at Stubbs in Austin below.

3 Comments:

Blogger NerdMom said...

I have heard a couple of his songs and I think they are pretty good. In my brief channel surfing past MTV, he is getting a lot of play during show credits. I went into more detail here. Randy Elrod also blogged on him.

3/08/2006  
Blogger DissonanceIsBliss said...

This is ironic. I listened to your album, White Flag, for the first time while driving home from a funeral on Tuesday morning. The funeral was for a very nice 25 year old girl and a Matisyahu song was played in the middle of the memorial service.

3/09/2006  
Anonymous tim said...

I heard the song "king without a crown" early this year and man it was so awesome, i had no idea what he was saying cause he reggae's so fast. Until i looked up the lyrics and wow its deep.

3/09/2006  

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