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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Matisyahu's Youth: A New Jew's Review

Matisyahu's Youth: A New Jew's Review

Written by Josh Zapin
Matisyahu’s third album, Youth, while weaker than revolutionary Shake Off the ShakeDust…Arise and the electric Live at Stubb’s, still firmly establishes the genre of Hassidic Reggae and Matisyahu and his band as one of the most exciting musicians today.

MatisyahuListening to Matisyahu (any album for that matter), you can’t help but get pings of Bob Marley. While I will never say that Matisyahu is as revolutionary as Bob (in the genre of reggae, who was?), both channel spirituality and emotion into their music like few popular musicians. Bob Marley’s music and his religion, Rastafarianism, were inextricable: Bob used Rastafarian themes (humanity, passion, love) so that others appreciate its beauty and majesty. Matisyahu does the same thing with Judaism bringing up themes such as the Temple/Mount Zion (homecoming), Moshiach (peace), Egypt (freedom). Furthermore, both have commanding and distinct voices filled with more emotion and passion than most musicians can muster.

Making the parallels even more cosmic, there are some Rastafarians that even believe that they are from the Ten lost tribes of Israel. So, Matisyahu and Bob may be related. (As a Jew, I’d dig calling Bob Marley my cousin!)

From a passionate, emotional standpoint, Youth totally delivers but then again, all of Matisyahu's albums deliver from that regard. The pointed licks of a Reggae groove compliment any lyrics’ intensity. And Reggae is a full body experience. I’m not the greatest dancer, but I can totally move when a good Reggae groove. The whole package is more spiritual than any davening (praying) I’ve ever done in synagogue.

That being said, I thought Youth was mixed. Some songs reach awesome heights, while others, felt like sugary sweet pop. It seemed like many songs were catering to MTV crowd. (Judging from the crowd at the 2/28/06 Paramount Theater in Denver, he’s succeeding) While I wouldn’t say that it strayed from its Reggae roots, it lacks the originality.

Here is a breakdown each of the songs:

Fire of Heaven/Altar of Earth – A good solid track that represents everything that Matisyahu does well: pointed licks, spiritual lyrics, and tight interplay between the band.

Youth – Saw this one live and it was a crowd igniter. Starts off in a maelstrom of almost acid jazz (think Miles Davis) followed by a nice heavy dub rhythm. Matisyahu's lyrics really shine here showing how our youth need to be empowered as they are the future of the world. “You’ve got the freedom to choose/Better make the right moves.” The track moves nicely along and keeps you going until the guitar solo towards the end. Sounds almost like a Whitesnake-styled mess. Blecch. It’s a good song, but is much better live.

Matisyahu musicTime of Your Song – Did Matisyahu hire Destiny’s Child’s producer? Over-processed, over-trebly, midi-infused beat. While I’m totally into electronica, this is syrupy and cliché. Even though Matis’ singing/rapping is great and powerful (the song sounds like an autobiography of his spiritual journey), it just can’t cut through this one. I can see this one being done well live with just the four members of the band and no midis. Thank goodness for live shows.

Dispatch the Troops – This one starts out great with an awesome dub beat (can you tell that I’m a Lee “Scratch” Perry fan). Then it falls flat into a Jimmy Cliff feel. There’s even the WS_FTP files are “finished” sound. It’s a mixture, where the ingredients are all pretty delicious, but the mixture just isn’t right. Even the nice ode to the Police (the first white guys who tried to do Reggae).

Indestructible – Matisyahu does Laryn Hill. While Matisyahu's voice and passionate intonation are great as well as his the “Hassidic beatbox” lick, it’s still a little too MTV for my liking. I’m really curious what this would sound like if we didn’t have the over-produced music? The end of the song falls into this nice easy groove with Matisyahu's voice over. It blends so well that I could have listened to this section for hours. This a kind of mess, but somehow it blends well.

What I’m Fighting For – Acoustic and Matis’ voice. You can’t go wrong with that.

Jerusalem – Again, this track feels a little over produced. Jerusalem if I forget you/ Let my right hand forgets what it’s supposed to do.

Matisyahu LiveWP – The song starts off deep and dark but then pours into a bland hip-hop noodle. It think the WP is supposed to stand for White Plains, a northern suburb of New York City. I’m not really sure what this is talking about.

Shalom/Saalam – Beautiful, if brief, world-beat styled song. Great African instrumentation with Matis’ Hassidic beat box. I definitely wanted more of this. Not sure who Yusu Youssou is, but she/he collaborated on the song.

Late Night In Zion – This is easily the prettiest song on Youth. The simple orchestration combined with Matisyahu's cantorial-styled singing makes it sound like a lullaby. I saw him perform it at the Paramount Theater in Denver and was blown away by it. This breezy song was a great pause in the middle of an intense set. The song talks about the humility and fallibility of man. “A man is just a man filled with faults and weakness/For the young Jerusalem all alone and speechless/At nighttime nobody’s home roaming streets and darkness/I feel I’m just a man.” I think the wired world we live inundates us with visions of perfection: be faster, better, always. Matisyahu is trying to tell us that we’re just humans, making mistakes and that makes us awesome. The lullaby-ish feel of it really tries to talk to the child inside of us.

Unique is My Dove – Another messy song but it seems to work well together. It starts off with a great dubby beat with a spirited Shabba Ranks styled lyrics. The highs and lows catch you off guard but somehow you feel good at the end.

Ancient Lullaby – An excellent African feel to this song just makes you want to smile. Good drum solo at the end.

King Without A Crown – The song that is going up the MTV charts. It’s a great song that is nicely enhanced by the studio experience. It nicely captures the energy of a live Matisyahu's show. Aaron’s guitar solo is enhanced by the dubby wah wah sound. Matisyahu's voice nicely wraps the music delivering lyrics of growth and redemption.

To boot, I also felt that the sound quality was a bit muffled. It almost sounded like they toned down the levels. Blecch.

So, should you get it? Matis definitely deserves your support. Get Shake off the Dust...Arise and Live At Stubbs legal and free on eMusic.

But, if you looking for the “real” Matisyahu, see him live.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Matisyahu in Toronto (Close My Eyes)

Matisyahu in Toronto (Close My Eyes)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Matisyahu sings REAL Shema onstage!

Hasidic singer Matisyahu sings the REAL Shema @ Canal Room, 11.22.06. By Arielle JS Abrams (Shema is a Hebrew prayer).

Friday, November 24, 2006

Never Again

Here is the full version of Remedy's excellent song "Never Again": Never Again.mp3 (Right click the link and select "save target as..")

I think that as Remedy says: "this song means more now than ever before". With Iran trying to get nuclear weapons and stating Israel should be destroyed. I hope this time the Jews will wake up and act before another holocaust occurs.

(Music taken from jewschool.com)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Never Again by Remedy

Hey I must admit I have never heard of this Jewish rapper, Remedy. I just heard some of his songs and I think he is very good. I think it would be a good idea for Matisyahu and Remedy to do some work together. Gentle Matisyahu and rough Remedy.

Watch the Jewish Army in action in this raw footage accompanied with the powerful music song Never Again by Remedy - Ross Fuller - Wu Tang killer bee.

“NEVER AGAIN” - By Remedy - (Reuven Ben-Menachem)

[Kiddush intro]
To all those races colors and creeds, every man bleeds,
for the countless victims and all the families,
of the murdered, tortured, enslaved raped, robbed and persecuted
Never Again - to the men women and children
who died in their struggle to live
never to be forgotten -Reuven Ben-Menachem

My own blood, dragged through the mud
perished in my heart still cherished and loved
stripped of our pride, everything we lived for
families cried, there’s no where to run to
no where to hide, tossed to the side
access denied, six million died for what?
A mans shot dead in his back
helpless women and children under constant attack
for no reason, ‘til the next season
and we still bleedin’, it’s freezin’
and men burn in hell some for squeezin’
no hope for a Remedy, nothing to believe
moving targets who walk with a star on their sleeve
Forever marked with a number, tattooed to your body
late night, eyes closed clutched my my shotty
having visions, flashes of death camps and prisons
no provisions, deceived by the devil’s decisions
Forced into a slave, death before dishonor
for those men who were brave shot and sent to their grave
can’t awaken, it’s too late everything’s been taken
I’m shaking, family, history, the makin’

[Chorus with Hatikva]
Never Again shall we march like sheep to the slaughter
Never Again shall we sit and take orders
stripped of our culture, robbed of our names
raped of our freedom then thrown into the flames
forced from our families, taken form our homes
pulled from our G-d and everything we own-Never Again
Never Again shall we march like sheep to the slaughter
Never Again leave our sons and daughters
stripped of our culture, robbed of our names
raped of our freedom then thrown into the flames
forced from our families, taken form our homes
pulled from our G-d then burned of our bones

Some fled through the rumors of wars
but most left for dead, few escaped to the shores
with just one loaf of bread, banished
pulled in for questioning and vanished-never to be seen again
I can’t express the pain that was felt in the train
to Auschwitz, tears poured down like rain
naked face to face with the "master race", hatred,
blood of David, my heart belongs to G-d and stays sacred
Rabbis and priests, disabled individuals
the poor, the scholars, all labeled common criminals
mass extermination, total annihilation
shipped into the ghetto then prepared for liquidation
tortured and starved, innocent experiments
stripped down, carved up or gassed to death
The last hour, I smell the flowers
flashbacks of family then sent to the showers
powerless, undressed, women with babies clung tight to their chest
crying, who would have guessed dying
another life lost count the cost,
another body gassed, burned and tossed in the Holocaust

[Chorus with Hatikva]
Never Again shall we march like sheep to the slaughter
Never Again shall we sit and take orders
stripped of our culture, robbed of our names
raped of our freedom then thrown into the flames
forced from our families, taken form our homes
pulled from our G-d and everything we own-Never Again
Never Again shall we march like sheep to the slaughter
Never Again leave our sons and daughters
stripped of our culture, robbed of our names
raped of our freedom then thrown into the flames
forced from our families, taken form our homes
pulled from our G-d then burned of our bones
Never Again

The final solution
is now retribution - Remedy

Check out Remedy's website remedyross.com

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Matisyahu with Yehudah Live @ Uconn 10/24/06

Matisyahu with Yehudah Live @ Uconn 10/24/06

Here is an audio file of Matisyahu with Yehudah - Like A Lion and Youth (Live@Uconn 10/24/06)

Matisyahu with Yehudah Live @ Uconn
This track is 8:14 min long (11.3MB). To download the mp3 file right click the link and select "save target as.."

* If that link doesn't work go to this site *

Friday, November 17, 2006

Matisyahu - News & Concert Dates

New Matisyahu December Tour Dates Announced!
December 13 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
December 14 Philadelphia, PA - TLA
December 16 New York, NY - Hammerstein Ballroom
December 17 New York, NY - Hammerstein Ballroom
December 19 New York, NY - Hammerstein Ballroom
December 20 Boston, MA Avalon Ballroom (On-sale begins November 21)
December 21 Providence, RI Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel (On-sale begins November 20)

Remix the "Jerusalem" Video & Win!
jumpcut movie:Matisyahu Jerusalem - Remix The Video!
REMIX Matisyahu's "Jerusalem" video using your own photos and clips and enter to win an autographed No Place To Be CD/DVD and limited edition lithographs! Visit Jumpcut.com for details!

Live at Austin City Limits iTunes Exclusive!
Austin City Limits Music Festival - Live Matisyahu TracksMatisyahu's Live at Austin City Limits Music Festival 2006 recordings are now available on Matisyahu - Live At Austin City Limits Music Festival 2006 - EP. The Matisyahu live tracks available are "Lord Raise Me Up," "Time of Your Song," & "Jerusalem."

Matisyahu's No Place To Be CD+DVD Package
No Place To Be CD+DVDin stores December 26, 2006!

CD contains 7 new tracks, including "Jerusalem (Out Of Darkness Comes Light)" and "Message In A Bottle"
recorded with Sly & Robbie

'Live in Israel' DVD contains the live show shot in Tel Aviv in Dec '05. It's intercut with interviews and street performances from Jerusalem during the same time period. It also includes the music video for "Jerusalem." DVD length: approx 1:30.
full track listing is as follows:

1) Jerusalem (Out Of Darkness Comes Light) - studio version recorded with Sly & Robbie
2) Chop 'Em Down - studio version produced by Bill Laswell
3) Warrior - studio version produced by Bill Laswell
4) Message In A Bottle (Police cover) - studio version recorded with Sly & Robbie
5) Jerusalem (Swisha House Mix)
6) Youth (Small Stars Remix)
7) Message In A Bottle (Dub Version) - dub version done by Bill Laswell

Rastaman Chant (Bob Marley cover)
Lord Raise Me Up
Dispatch The Troops
Close My Eyes
Chop 'Em Down
Late Night In Zion
Ancient Lullaby
King Without A Crown
What I'm Fighting For

"The First Annual Festival of Light" Concert Series
Matisyahu will give his hometown fans a holiday treat this Hannukah when he kicks off "The First Annual Festival of Light" concert series at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. Matisyahu will be joined by his band Roots Tonic and a different special opening act each night on Dec. 16, 17 & 19.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Matisyahu interview on Israeli TV

Matisyahu interview on Israeli TV

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Matisyahu's Message in a Bottle

Matisyahu's "Message in a Bottle"

After opening a few shows for Sting in Israel, it appears Matisyahu has released a cover of The Police’s Message in a Bottle. I guess you have all seen Sting and Matisyahu performing Roxanne together.

Now you can listen to Matisyahu - Message in a Bottle.mp3 studio version. Message In A Bottle (Police cover) - studio version recorded with Sly & Robbie

(Taken from The musicnazi)

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Telletubbies dancing to Matisyahu

The Telletubbies dancing to Matisyahu's "Youth"

Monday, November 06, 2006

Matisyahu - pics from the Toronto concert

Matisyahu - pics from the Toronto concert

These pictures were taken from the front row by jewishshiksa.
Matisyahu concert
Matisyahu concert
Matisyahu concert

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.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Matisyahu - "Jerusalem" Music Video

Matisyahu - "Jerusalem" Music Video

This is the best Matisyahu video yet. Great song and a very touching video that anybody can relate to. In the video you can see private pictures of the young Matthew Miller and his family. Also in the video you can see an old woman who survived the holocaust. You may want to read the song's lyrics so you could better understand the video. Well done Matis, well done.

Very good.... Don't forget where you saw it first :)


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