Matisyahu - GIANT Magazine Review
Date: January 31
p. 100 MARCH ’06 Reviewed by Alison Prato
Crown Heights’ Jewish rapper keeps the faith on his phenomenal third CD.
At the 2005 mtvu Woodie Awards, Orthodox Jewish reggae star Matisyahu waltzed on stage wearing wire-rimmed glasses, a long, black, curly beard and traditional Hasidic male garb: a white button-down shirt, a long black robe, stiff black pants, a prayer belt and a yarmulke secured tightly to prevent slippage while dancing. As he launched into his hip-hop reggae hit, “King Without a Crown,” the crowd went wild. They didn’t stop jumping up and down until his dancehall set ended 20 minutes later.
Born Matthew Miller in 1979, Matisyahu (Hebrew for Matthew) developed a thirst for Judaism after taking a trip to Israel as a confused teenager. Unsure what to do with his newfound spirituality, he dropped out of high school and hit the road to follow the hippie jam band Phish. After a few months, he returned home and was enrolled in a wilderness school in Oregon by his parents and began studying reggae and hip-hop and attending open-mic nights, where he honed his talents as a performer.
In 2004 he released his first extraordinary album, Shake Off the Dust...Arise, and the New York Times called him “a latter day Doug E. Fresh, attracting Jews and non-Jews alike.” His second album, Matisyahu: Live at Stubbs, was recorded at the famous music venue in Austin, Texas and further showcased his impressive ability to rap, scat, sing and beat box to thick dancehall reggae beats. Matisyahu even got the thumbs up from reggae experts in the summer of 2005 when he was the only white act to perform at an annual reggae event on New York’s Randall’s Island.
Now married with a child and living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Matisyahu’s third album, Youth, is his most uplifting and powerful to date. Produced by world-music guru Bill Laswell (Mick Jagger, Herbie Hancock), the album includes two tracks from Live at Stubbs“Warrior” and “King Without a Crown,” but it also delves into dub reggae and rock. At times, the words roll out of his mouth so quickly you can’t tell if he’s scatting or saying actual words (it’s usually the latter).
“At the end of the day,” he says, “I hope people take from my music what I took from music growing upthat it gave me strength, hope, peace, stability and inspiration.” Consider us inspired.
(taken from giantmag.com)