Matisyahu - Unexpected Revelation
Okay, I'm a sucker for anything new and interesting and unusual mixtures of cultures are my meat and drink. But Matisyahu is really so unexpected that it was inevitable that I would be caught immediately. I mean hip hop reggae by a Hasidic Jew, can there be anything more unlikely?


And the real surprise is that Matisyahu is much more than a gimmick - he is very, very good, in many more ways than one. I am not easy to convince in the area of rap and hip hop, only grudgingly admitting that eminem has his moments, and reggae I consider to have reached its high point in the Brummie band UB40 back in the eighties. So Matisyahu starts with a disadvantage; yet very quickly he has convinced me - this is great music delivered with style and soul.

Take a listen to Jerusalem and feel the depth and passion in the ancient words "Jerusalem, if I forget you..." Yes, Matisyahu is inevitably about the words, his songs full of a spirituality and peace so lacking in others of his chosen genre; this is what undergirds the appeal of his songs so that they become a celebration rather than a shout of anger and denial.

But I promised myself not to speak too much of the words. The music is good enough to stand on its own and has more unexpected echoes, as in King Without a Crown. Solidly reggae in foundation, the song has the wonderful yearning of the Jew in Matisyahu's initial keening, the machinegun rattle of rap's lyric delivery and even a suggestion of Zimbabwean pop music in the counterpoint of the lead guitar. Truly wonderful stuff and easily my favorite of Matisyahu's songs.

The African element is repeated, probably accidentally, in this video to Close My Eyes, another reggae anthem of astounding quality. And the quality goes on in song after song. Try Time of Your Song and Youth. The last has a litle more of the rage we are so accustomed to in rap yet still offers answers rather than despair.

Matisyahu redefines the genre and sets it at the forefront of musical development, showing a new and more extensive view of the future. He deserves the success that has come to him, at first through novelty, but now through genuine talent and creativity.


This is much needed in a genre like hip hop where the is hardly any orginal ideas esp. concerning the ideals and what the lyrics are about.
Date Added: 27/09/2007

Very true, Boogie, and I never expected to be reviewing any hip hop on this blog! But, when the music and lyrics are this good, I have no option but to say so.
Date Added: 27/09/2007

Fantastic! I've come across this chap briefly but I didn't realise he was serious; I thought it was a spoof. Damn he is brilliant! I must get an album of his.
Date Added: 28/09/2007

Thought you might like him, Mad. I agree, he's brilliant.
Date Added: 28/09/2007

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