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Sunday, July 30, 2006

MATISYAHU By Melissa Bobbitt

By Melissa Bobbitt

The original reggae star Bob Marley can claim a pretty prolific family. Son Ziggy and three of his siblings have spread their fathers empowering messages since the early '80s as the Melody Makers and Damian Jr. Gong is tearing up the charts with his recent release Welcome to Jamrock.

Still, there's an unlikely reggae star carrying on th
Matisyahue Jamaican artists legacy today. Most everyone's heard the buoyant radio hit "King Without a Crown" by Matisyahu, with its rapid-fire wordplay and dreamy groove. But what you may not know is that the heir to Marleys throne isnt a dreadlocked Rasta; he's a bearded gent in a yarmulke.

Welcome to Jewrock.

Matisyahu (real name: Matthew Miller) grew up Jewish in New York City but didn't feel a true attachment to the faith until he found himself through reggae at the age of 14.

"I think as searching for identity as a teenager and hearing reggae music and hearing a really strong message and feeling myself in that music, I was also seeing lots of Jewish imagery, lots of Jewish ideas that allowed me to connect to it in a deeper way," he says.

Matisyahu, which roughly translates from Hebrew as a "gift from God", practices Hasidic Judaism, a sect he describes as one that celebrates "joy, through music and singing and dancing, [and] through philosophy. [Hasidism has] all the laws and the rules with still somewhat of an openness to being in the world and trying to effect the worldnot assimilate into the world, but influence the world in a positive way."

On Youth, his follow-up to the mega-popular Live at Stubbs, the singer praises his people's homeland (Jerusalem), offers his own acoustic "Redemption Song" (What I'm Fighting For) and gives a shout-out to future generations (the albums hard-rocking title track). The track culls its lyrics from the New York Times bestseller Towards a Meaningful Life, a potent book on Judaism written by Matisyahu's associate Rabbi Simon Jacobson.

In [the book] there's a chapter on youth, and I knew that I wanted to do something about that," Matis says. "Its basically the idea that theres a certain power the youth has, like a certain energy, which is really special when its channeled in the right way. And the youth senses the falseness of the world around him, so then they react...Kids from every religion and culture can relate."

The artist takes a universal approach to his albums. A Sufi Muslim musician provides a beautiful harp accompaniment to Matis' beatboxing on "Shalom/Salaam (Interlude)". And though words such as "Burn the sacrifice of pride and ride out to Zion" (Fire of Heaven/ Altar of Earth) refer to the teachings found in the Torah, Judaism's sacred text, Matisyahu isn't about proselytizing.

"Some people consider that to be watering it down, selling out to be more connected to the mainstream, but I think its the opposite," he says. "I think the more that a mainstream audience is able to connect to you, the more you're doing the right thing, the deeper youre getting into the details of who you are."

The influence of a Chabad rabbi while in college, as well as a life-changing visit to Israel at age 19, inspired Miller to adopt his Hebrew name and devote himself to Hasidic Judaism while filtering his message through his first love, reggae.

The connection isnt so far-fetched. Crown Heights, an NYC neighborhood where Matis' now dwells, boasts a unified community of Jews and Caribbeans. Judaism and Rastafarianism heavily mention the promised land of Zion, a refuge for Jews and African slaves from the perils of the world.

The 26-year-old is an exemplary link between those two cultures and with the mainstream. Last year, he and his backing band (drummer Jonah David, guitarist Aaron Dugan and bassist/keyboardist Josh Werner) made high-profile appearances on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, CNN and Good Morning America. He also scored opening slots on a recent tour with O.A.R. and the career-making New York Carifest in July, where he and his band were virtually the only non-Caribbean faces on the bill for the massive arena show. Shaking apprehension aside, the positivity of the music won the audience over and won Matisyahu heaps of critical kudos.

With Youths release, Matis' star is slated to ascend even higher. Produced by Bill Laswell, whos manned the helm for everyone from Iggy Pop to Herbie Hancock, the LP delivers more lush instrumentation and more fine-tuned melodies than those found on 2004's Shake Off the DustARISE.

"I think I had more of a footing, a hand in it, in this album than the original albumI think its more real, more our sound," Matisyahu says.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Matisyahu - Youth - Unique Is My Dove - lyrics

Matisyahu - Youth - Unique Is My Dove - lyrics

On the way into this world, our soul was born in two
Searching for you, I been searching for you
Where ya been, where ya running to
Where ya got to go, what ya got to do
Don't care where were goin, just wanna be with you
Put your head on my shoulder, tell me what you been through
When I lose my focus, you remind me of the truth
Lift us up to the heavens, for a birds eye view

One woman for me
Other half of my soul, you're my queen
One woman for me
Other half of my soul, roots of my tree

We could forget about Gallus for a while, our troubles for a while
Sometimes I look at you and just smile, sit in the park and just laugh all day
Sometimes I just lose it with the things that you say, waiting by the subway
But we missed the train, well take the next one if you can pull me away
Keep me cool down to earth, and no anxiety
Stay modest with the humble heart always


We don't need no umbrella when we're walking in the rain
Sunlight or clouds, it’s all the same
Don't need no umbrella, when we're walking in the rain

So smart and sharp, oh so lovely
And a beauty shine bright, yes you're there for me
Keep the ways of our fathers, how it use to be
Moving forward, don't mean erase our history
Look to your ways, and see a girl who wants to do the right thing
Dedicated to a life, bigger than you or me
Build a temple in our hearts, for his majesty
Stay simple, serve god, and keep our feets clean


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Matisyahu at Paris

Matisyahu at Paris

Monday, July 24, 2006

This is Matisyahu's First Appearance on TV on CNN in 2003

This is Matisyahu's First Appearance on TV on CNN in 2003.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Matisyahu on the road again



2006 has been a year of notable collaborations for Matisyahu. Earlier this summer he was tapped by Dave Matthews to open several of his U.S. tour dates, and by Sting to open a performance in Tel Aviv, Israel. Starting August 8, Matisyahu will headline a new string of dates featuring a diverse lineup of acts including Michael Franti & Spearhead, Keller Williams, The Polyphonic Spree, and Gomez, as well as a co-headlining bill with The Flaming Lips September 16 in TX. Completing his sweep of the festival circuit, he will also stop at the Austin City Limits music festival on Sept. 17, joining a lineup that includes Tom Petty, Van Morrison, Los Lonely Boys, Gnarls Barkley, The Raconteurs, and Damian Marley. The drum trio Street Drum Corps will join Matisyahu on every date, playing nightly outside the venue prior to show time and in between sets.

A full list of tour dates and details follows.

06 Chicago, IL Lollapalooza in Grant Park
08 Santa Barbara, CA Santa Barbara Bowl (with Michael Franti & Spearhead)
09 Los Angeles, CA Greek Theatre (with Michael Franti & Spearhead)
23 Birmingham, UK Birmingham Academy

03 Denver, CO City Lights Pavilion (w/ Polyphonic Spree)
04 Aspen, CO Snowmass Village (w/ Keller Williams, Polyphonic Spree)
06 Redmond, WA Marynoor Amphitheatre (w/ The Polyphonic Spree)
07 Troutdale, OR Edgefield (w/ Polyphonic Spree)
09 San Jose, CA Civic Auditorium (w/ Polyphonic Spree)
10 Berkeley, CA Berkeley Community Theatre (w/ Gomez)
12 San Diego, CA Viejas Concerts at Bayside (w/ Gomez)
13 Mesa, AZ Mesa Amphitheatre (w/ Gomez)
16 Grand Prairie, TX Nokia Live (w/ The Flaming Lips)
17 Austin, TX Austin City Limits
19 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre (w/ Gomez)
20 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium (w/ Gomez)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Matisyahu - Youth - Weenie Roast 2006

Matisyahu - Youth - Weenie Roast 2006

Sunday, July 16, 2006

MTV's definition of Matisyahu

MTV define yourself

Matisyahu is the last one.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Matisyahu - Live At Stubbs - Refuge - lyrics

Matisyahu - Live At Stubbs - Refuge - lyrics

Ani auni vevyone. Hashem yashav li. Ezrati, umafalti, atau.
As for me, I am poor and destitute.
Hashem my G-d will think about me. My help, my rescuer, you are.

My word is like a hammer like a shattering rock,
crack through your heart and take the evil apart

From the end of the earth unto you I call,
time and again I fall, back to you I crawl
You have been a refuge for me,
a tower of strength in the face of the enemy
Enemy, enemy lines I find I let myself get tied up too many times
You can't have my heart I'm taking back what's mine
I know it lie just smoke in your eye
and you saved my soul from the other side

When faint grows my heart to a rock
that too hard for me to climb alone lead me
For you have been a refuge

With you I smash a troop and with my G-d I leap over a wall
May the king answer you on the day that you call
Stand tall, battle yawl, the clouds crawl low, all stalled,
heavens lay draped over New York like a prayer shawl,
the holy one enthroned upon the praises of Israel

Pathways of my heart clogged like a traffic jam
From the start, I want to take the blockage apart

Wednesday, July 12, 2006



Exclusive video footage of Matisyahu's set from the Bonnaroo Music Festival is available in the Bonnaroo archive at blueroom.att.com. This footage was taken LIVE from this year's Bonnaroo held in Manchester, Tennessee. For more info on Bonnaroo, please click here to see the videos.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Matisyahu - Lord Raise Me Up - Live in Paris

Matisyahu - Lord Raise Me Up - Live in Paris
Nice video, takes time to load ...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Matisyahu Freestyling in Italy for Radio Deejay

Matisyahu Freestyling in Italy for Radio Deejay

Matisyahu Freestyling in Italy for Radio Deejay. You can download this 1:57 min mp3 file if you want, but, let me warn you, it's a little lame, the rhythm does not go with the lyrics at all (and what's with the "Bloa bloa" in the end???).


Matisyahu Freestyling in Italy for Radio Deejay.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Matisyahu Easter Eggs

Matisyahu Easter Eggs

Yes, I know that as an observant Orthodox Jew Matisyahu does not celebrate Easter.

But as I explored his music on Internet Archive, I ran across a couple of fun items:

1) In the song WP (White Plains) Matisyahu takes a jab at an old friend, but the internet lyrics sites missed out on it. They quote:
"I'll never forget running through the hall with all y'all rebels
Roaming through the high land, young bucks invincible
Echoes in my brain, if kids report to the principle"
Well, I'm not so sure. I think Matisyahu is more evocative with that last line. He remembers a specific announcement. Listen to this and see if you can decipher the real lyric.

Hint: Stanley Who?

2) Not exactly an Easter Egg in terms of being hidden, but certainly an Easter Egg in terms of surprises. Jerusalem began as a very prototypical Hasidic hip-hop tune (if there is such a thing). But somewhere in March, the band brought the song back in a very different form.

Sounds more Dublin than Brooklyn to me. And you've got to love the Matthew Wilder tribute in the middle of the song. I'm guessing this is just the start of the surprises that Matisyahu and Roots Tonic have in store for us...

(Taken from Spooky Action)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Matisyahu - Jerusalem (Live)

Take a look at this 24 second video of Matisyahu singing Jerusalem live.
It's only 24 seconds, but it's the best part of the song ;)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Jewish reggae rapper (that's Matisyahu) beats the odds

Jewish reggae rapper beats the odds
Jun. 15, 2006. 01:00 AM

Admittedly, the concept of a Hasidic Jewish reggae singer is an odd one. Stranger yet is the notion of such a performer opening for pop-rock's Dave Matthews Band.Last night, as Matisyahu took the stage at the Molson Amphitheatre, it all made sense.

After all, the Rastafarian beliefs that inform reggae music have some similarities — particularly regarding diet, facial hair and proprieties with women — to Orthodox Judaism. And the Brooklyn, N.Y. entertainer's connection to the Dave Matthews Band becomes clearer when you consider his links to certain other jam bands: as a 3-year-old attending his first concert — the Grateful Dead — with his parents; and as a floundering teen who dropped out of high school to follow Phish (and experiment with LSD) for half a year.

From there, he joined a progressive synagogue, adopted the Orthodox lifestyle complete with name change from Matthew Miller, then got his music career rolling. And he was the perfect appetizer for loyal fans of Dave Matthew's free-flowing Virginia-based quintet, who showed up in near-capacity numbers last night even though the band was in town on the same tour in December.

Much of the audience was still filing in when the lanky Matisyahu took the stage, backed by drums, guitar and bass, but they responded heartily, singing along to songs like "Jerusalem" and "King Without a Crown."Clad in grey slacks, black overcoat and a wide-brimmed hat that he doffed to reveal a yarmulke, Matisyahu sounded just like he does on his third record and major label debut Youth — a tolerable reggae/rap singer who co-writes earnest religious and political songs.

He showed he could ride a dancehall beat, Wyclef Jean-style, and deliver a melodic beatbox, but added nothing new or ear-catching to the genre. Even so, Youth debuted at No. 4 on Billboard's album chart on first-week sales of 118,000 copies — more than any other reggae act in history.That means more than spiritually themed Jamaican reggae artists such as Luciano and Morgan Heritage, who've been doing it longer and better; more than any Marley; more than lewd, but popular party starters such as Shaggy and Sean Paul.

There has been grumbling in some quarters about a white American in a yarmulke making music that stems from Jamaica's ghettos, as if skin colour or birthplace should dictate who sings what.But what does puzzle me is why the big record labels don't give equal backing to the plethora of superior black reggae artists, such as Toronto's Blessed, and why record buyers would so eagerly embrace Matisyahu's mediocrity. I guess it's the novelty factor. It can't be that reggae is more palatable emanating from white lips, 'cuz that would be ridiculous.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Matisyahu Beatboxing - Live - sessions@AOL

Matisyahu Beatboxing - Live - sessions@AOL

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