Tuesday, September 27, 2005


On A Lighter 'Note'

While it has been difficult for those in the Arab world to produce music that doesn't include the the phrase "I hate Israel" or accusations of Jews being behind 9/11, a Hasidic rapper from the US has been at the forefront of creating music with a less political and more religous twist. Oh and the music he creates is reggae. Yes, yes, a religous Jew singing reggae, sounds hard to believe. So here's a video for those who want to know how he sounds.

To most Americans, Jewish music means klezmer or Fiddler on the Roof, but two Valley school chums and their Hasidic beatboxing protégé are changing that.

"There's always been Jewish music. It's just most of it hasn't been very good," says Matisyahu, the self-proclaimed "Hasidic Reggae Superstar," who performs tonight at the Marquee Theatre.

"It was not so much an idea as an instinctive outcome of my lifestyle. I was always making music, singing about things that interested me. And as I became religious, that's what I started singing about," says Matisyahu (pronounced Mah-tis-yah-who).

His current single, King Without a Crown, is garnering heavy airplay at alternative radio stations across the country, including the Valley's KEDJ (103.9 FM). But Hasidic reggae was a tough sell in the music industry.

"We've always been aware of the novelty factor - talking about a 6-foot tall Hasidic Jew in a black suit with a big beard, singing reggae, rapping and beatboxing," Bisman says. "But as soon as people hear the music and see him, they get it."

Now he divides his time between performing and studying the Torah. He does not see a conflict between his spiritual studies and his music.

"The first rabbi said that music, song, it is the pen of the soul," Matisyahu says.



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