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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Matisyahu - Looking beyond the Pop Culture veneer

Matisyahu - JerusalemMatisyahu's Video Jerusalem is a initially a symphony of visual delights, candy for the eyes. Messages and images are delicately interwoven into a complex tapestry to some the realization of the strength and inner aims of this video come quickly to others the realization comes as a visual shock What is most apparent is beneath this apparent veneer of visual candy lies some deep and profound messages and thoughts on Faith and what it means to be a Jew. What visual and symbolic metaphors do you see in this video?

Matisyahu is a paradox. He is both on the leading edge of Music Culture and a member of Ultra Orthodox Judaism.

You ask yourself how can someone co-exists within these two spheres? Surely they are both mutually exclusive of each other?

Whether you like Matisyahu or otherwise, there is one thing that can't be denied, the suspicion that he was 'just a fad' has now been proven incorrect. When he first released his first album many claimed he was a flavor of the month', or in colloquial terms 'Just a T shirt' now with the release of his 2nd album the critics aren't so sure.

The flavor of the month seems to have been endowed with a little more longitivity than Brittany 'Gone Trailer Park' Spears and her husband wanna be rapper, K_Fed who has just released his new album playing with fire, which a few people wish he would.

It seems K_Fed's 'Playing with Fire' debut has all but sizzled, 3 days after its release there seems to be way too much smoke and no actual fire. Maybe that's why he released it on his own label, ' a fox doesn't smell it's own stench' and a ' pig rolls in its own mud' something like that any way.

Matisyahu a Brooklyn resident is America's most popular Reggae singer. Last years breakthrough album ' Live at Stubbs' (author note: - I spent my hard earned wisely) sold half a million copies.

The contrast of being a Top ten musician and a Ultra Orthodox Jew exists more than just on superficial appearances.

Matisyahu is a devout Orthodox Jew, he believes strongly in the practice of Shomer Negiah, [not touching the opposite sex] this practice is in complete contrast to the music industries reputation for overly friendly fans and admirers.

Despite Matisyahu's strongly held beliefs, and observance of Jewish Halakha he has still managed to become an influential member of the Music industry.

The service that Matisyahu brings to the Jewish community, I believe is enormous, he brings positive imagery to Judaism in a time when there has been so much opportunistic negativity expressed towards Judaism by Anti Semites.

Despite lucrative offers by various companies including Burger King, Matisyahu chose not to endorse their non-kosher products.

He is an beacon of spiritual values to American youth, he never overtly proselytizes or evangelizes, yet he doesn't compromise on the essence of what it means to believe in G_d and be a Religious Jew.

What has to be appreciated is that Matisyahu brings a fresh relevant focus to Jewish Youth, he leads by example, yet remains relevant.

In a time when there are so many 'attractive' alternatives to young Jews leaving their faith, crossing over to the secular world, he shines as a light unto them.

There is already so much to admire with regards to Matisyahu, with his new album I feel there may be many more reasons to admire him to come.



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