Next time you’re strolling through Crown Heights, Brooklyn and happen to see a tall, bespectacled young man wearing the garb of the Hasidic Jewish community coming towards you, try humming a few bars of Bob Marley’s “Exodus” and see if he smiles at you and joins in.
Matthew Paul Miller (Matisyahu) spreads his messages of faith and “consciousness” through the reggae medium, and although this sounds strange to say the least, he’s getting his message across, particularly to the young people. As he sings on title track and second single “Youth”:
“Take a stand
Fan a fire for the flame of the youth
Got the freedom to choose
You better make the right move
Young man, the power's in your hand”
His style borrows heavily from the vintage reggae of Marley and the spiritual messages of singers like Luciano rather than the popular dance hall music of Sean Paul, but you can also hear other influences such as The Police in “Despatch the Troops”, and Matthew Wilder in “Jerusalem”, as well as rap and hip hop.
Matisyahu gives his all in his live performances, as can be seen in the video for “King Without a Crown”, his first single that made the world sit up and pay attention. If it takes a gimmick to get the message of peace and harmony to young people than I’m all for it.
Maybe not the best reggae album in the world, or the most spiritually uplifting, but certainly fun, catchy and with no need for Parental Advisory warnings.
Amanda Richards, April 22, 2006