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Album Review

An orthodox Jew who kicks it dancehall style, Matisyahu may seem a gimmick, but he's the real deal. Unfortunately, he's struggling with the sophomore jinx on Youth, an album that expands upon his debut, 2004's Shake Off the Dust... Arise, without capturing its immediacy or excitement, thanks in large part to producer Bill Laswell. No stranger to genre-combining — he's remixed Bob Marley and Miles Davis and is always up for any world music versus electronica excursion he's offered — Laswell treats Matisyahu like so many of his previous subjects. He can't resist adding a sound effect swoop and other studio trickery to most tracks, and he often makes Matisyahu's band sound gigantic and polished when they're really tight and free. While the whole affair is great for showing off bass-heavy speakers, the live and exciting Matisyahu that makes the jam band crowd go crazy is hard to find and the tasteful studio touches of his home-brewed debut are absent. His material is also going through some growing pains, but there is growth and for every song that wanders a bit too much, there's a revelation that fleshes out the artist. The spiritual message was always bigger than the man before, but the sparse "What I'm Fighting For" is a surprisingly intimate track while "Dispatch the Troops" flippantly quotes the Police, an unexpected twist from a man who always seemed stately to a fault, even when he was doing the human beatbox thing. At the time of Youth's release, Shake Off the Dust... Arise was out of print and one has to wonder if Matisyahu's new label, Sony, was behind it. Arise's great "King Without a Crown" appears again here and Sony decides to push the single as if this is Matisyahu's grand entrance. That's a total misrepresentation of Youth, which is really more about a talented artist struggling with the pressures of topping his brilliant first album. Even if he didn't, and even if he or the label chose the wrong producer for the undertaking, Youth is meaty enough to suggest this man is no gimmick but an artist with his eye on the long haul.

Customer Reviews

he is exelent

jews are great

What an excellent album

Matis brings something new to reggae and hip hop. His music is inspirational and makes me proud to be a jew. J-J-J-J-J-J-EW-UNIT

Favorite song: "Jerusalem" Here's why:

Here it is: The real reason why Jews are supposed to be in Israel. This song was in part artistically interpreted from Psalms 137: "...If I forget you, O Jerusalem, then forget let my right hand its skill-Adhere my tongue to my palate if I fail to remember you..." So, my favorite line is something I pray with all of my resources that others, for everyone on earth to have understanding of why we belong to Israel and she belongs to us: including that even some non-religious Jews could understand. I put my favorite lines in all caps.Here are the lyrics for the other older people who may not understand all the lyrics: "[Chorus] Jerusalem, if I forget you, fire not gonna come from me tongue. Jerusalem, if I forget you, let my right hand forget what it's supposed to do. In the ancient days, we will return with no delay Picking up the bounty and the spoils on our way We've been traveling from state to state And them don't understand what they say 3,000 years with no place to be And they want me to give up my milk and honey DON'T YOU SEE, IT'S NOT ABOUT THE LAND OR THE SEA NOT THE COUNTRY BUT THE DWELLING OF HIS MAJESTY chorus] Rebuild the temple and the crown of glory Years gone by, about sixty Burn in the oven in this century And the gas tried to choke, but it couldn't choke me I will not lie down, I will not fall asleep They come overseas, yes they're trying to be free Erase the demons out of our memory Change your name and your identity Afraid of the truth and our dark history Why is everybody always chasing we Cut off the roots of your family tree Don't you know that's not the way to be [chorus] Caught up in these ways, and the worlds gone craze Don't you know it's just a phase Case of the Simon says If I forget the truth then my words won't penetrate Babylon burning in the place, can't see through the haze Chop down all of them dirty ways, That's the price that you pay for selling lies to the youth No way, not ok, oh no way, not ok, hey Aint no one gonna break my stride Aint no one gonna pull me down Oh no, I got to keep on moving Stay alive"


Born: June 30, 1979 in Westchester, PA

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '00s, '10s

When Matisyahu emerged in 2004 with his debut album, Shake Off the Dust...Arise, his musical persona seemed a novelty to some. Here was a Hasidic Jew -- dressed in a black suit with a broad-brimmed black hat worn over a yarmulke, and sporting a full, untrimmed beard -- who nevertheless performed toasting raps about the glories of traditional Judaism over reggae beats in a dancehall style directly from Jamaica. Moreover, he punctuated his performances with stage diving. It may have seemed like a joke...
Full Bio
Youth, Matisyahu
View In iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Reggae, Music, World, Rock
  • Released: Mar 07, 2006

Customer Ratings