If you haven't heard of Matisyahu yet, and might have missed the plethora of coverage Rolling Stone has given him, listen up.
Matisyahu was born in West Chester, Pa., and grew up in Berkeley, Calif., before moving to White Plains, N.Y., listening to Phish, smoking pot and contemplating the meanings of life as a hippie. After an inspiring trip to the holy land of Israel, Matthew Miller (as his birth certificate is inscribed) became inspired. He connected with a higher power and went back to his Jewish roots. This time, however, he went full out to the Orthodox Hasidic side of the Jewish spectrum.
Youth has dominated the Billboard charts for weeks, magnetized music lovers from all genres and continues to stupefy audiences all over. Matisyahu combines Jamaican dance hall Reggae, Yiddish, Hebrew, religious imagery and overall captivating lyrics and beats throughout Youth. After listening to him for as few as 20 seconds, he captivates listeners, inviting them along on his journey of connecting to a higher being, whether it be in his lyrics or any other spiritual divinity.
The track "Youth" speaks loudly, as Matisyahu makes some good points. Often we loose ourselves in our everyday lives and forget how many freedoms we enjoy, especially as independent, free, American university students. When we wake up, we do not think about how we are going to eat, if a bomb will pass our town, if terrorist militants will decide to pay us a visit.
Rather, we have countless opportunities at our fingertips, we can make choices, and we can take a stand. Matisyhu illustrates these freedoms in the chorus of "Youth." His colorful metaphors really stand out and make one contemplate.
The spiritual aspect that consumes the album is apparent here and takes you to a higher level when listening. The peaceful messages pour out of his voice and diffuse your mystical, musical atmosphere.
The track "Jerusalem" integrates many allusions to the history of the Jewish people, such as "milk and honey," which implies the state of Israel. Matisyahu is not just calling out to the Jewish people; rather, his messages can reach all, as illustrated by his widespread fan base. This track is a combination of Bob Marley stylized beats, meaningful lyrics and a Jamaican inspired background.
This album is filled with great tracks, but "King Without A Crown" stands out as the best wholly compiled song. Don't just go by my word, the charts speak for themselves. "King Without A Crown" has dominated MTV, Billboard, Rolling Stone, and the list goes on. It is not only enjoyable to listen to but also has a meaningful message often unseen in pop music today.
Matisyahu brings his traditional long beard, Jewish values and tiztit (the little white fringes that stick out under his shirt), with his jammin' spiritual lyrics. Anyone looking for a Friday night concert look elsewhere: Matisyahu's observance of the Friday night Sabbath will not allow for that — all the same, Youth is a great album certainly worth checking out.
Rating: 5 out of 5