14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2006
If I told you there existed a Hasidic Jew with full beard and yarmulke who rapped about the virtues of Judaism, you would think I was crazy. Yet Matisyahu is such an artist, and sophomore album Youth has already seen him break into the mainstream on the other side of the Atlantic.
Matisyahu is unique, as his style embraces in equal measure hip-hop, classic Bob Marley-esque reggae and impressive guitar work. All whilst remaining true to his Jewish roots, with his songs full of religious and spiritual references. Standout songs include the excellent "King Without A Crown", the inspirational "Jerusalem", and the title track, where one is urged to "take a stand, fan the fire for the flame of Youth".
Jolly, jubilant, judicious in terms of composition, Youth shows that "jamming" can be both Jewish and joyous. Far from being a joke, it is actually pretty damn good.
In all, this could well go on to be one of the strongest albums of 2006, especially if Youth captures our imagination the way it has done so Stateside. Certainly, it's actually a pleasant change to hear someone who sings from the heart about genuine Judaism, rather than the faux Kabbalah we get from "certain artists".
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The legendary Bill Laswell produced most the tracks on this impressive album. Laswell is famous for his work with a wide range of musicians, a lot of it obscure or non-mainstream music. But this album is a very accessible blend of hip-hop and appealing polirythmic textures, many of them with a reggae or dancehall flavor.
In style, it reminded me of Jah Wobble and Shaggy simultaneously and in spirit, of the work of PM Dawn or Arrested Development. Although the style may be characterized as mentioned above, the seamless blend also includes rock guitar as in the title track Youth. The first four tracks, Time Of Your Song especially, are all memorable but the best comes later.
There at least four masterpieces on this singular album. The powerful track Indestructable with its hypnotic rhythmic patterns and upligting lyrics is an awesome devotional song. The buoyant Jerusalem is a gripping and evocative hymn to the holy city. The mid tempo Unique Is My Dove with its bouncy reggae beats is an awesome love song, whilst the spacious and atmospheric Ancient Lullaby with its lovely guitar infusions and extended drum patterns is the highlight of the album, a most moving spiritual experience.
Other songs that stick in the mind after the notes have faded are Dispatch The Troops with its innovative instrumental mix, the structurally complex WP that contains a comforting spoken-word passage from scripture, and the mystical number Late Night In Zion. The CD insert contains the lyrics to four of the songs as well as Psalm 27. Those who like any type of Jamaican music will love this great album.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2006
Here in Norway the live version of Matisyahu's King Without a Crown has been shown on music video programs (the kind where people vote with their mobiles and there is no presenter) for a while now. That's not where I saw him first, I caught the tail end of his performance on Letterman and then I read about him in Q's March 2006 issue. I have always had a warm spot for Jewish people and Jewish culture (in fact, if there are any unmarried upper west side Jewish princesses out there, I'm currently single and... Oh, yeah, the review!), I have read most of Chaim Potok's books, The Promise, The Chosen, My Name is Asher Lev and The Gift of Asher Lev. Chaim Potok was not unlike Matisyahu an orthodox Jew living in the United States. He grew up as a young man during the Korean War, and the characters in his books faced a lot of the same things I would expect Matisyahu has had to contend with to some extent. Choosing a life in art, coming into contention with the more conservative trends of his religion and so on. Of course, Matisyahu has come into Hasidism on his own merits, and his parents weren't of the same branch, so I guess the similarities ends to some extent there.
But why else would I recommend that people buy this album?
The music is just great. I am not kosher (excuse the pun) when it comes to music, I'll explore most things. One thing I have kept myself well away from is rap, which I under normal circumstances can't stand, and never have. Reggae never really spoke to me either, but with the 80's, Ska and 2 tone as part of my baggage and recently, over the past three years having fallen for the music of The Streets, I guess I was open for something new.
Matisyahu's album Youth works for me on so many levels, it's toe tapping good fun, my mood is elevated by so many degrees it's almost silly. I have a keen interest in history and listening to the lyrics I must say I nod along, not just with the rhythm, but what he has to say. As a goyim and non-religious person, I still have an above average clue about the workings of Jewish culture, having read among other things, Wanderings, again by Chaim Potok, and I feel a bit of a tingle when I feel the love he has for his culture, people and for J**ve/G-od.
I really can't recommend this record enough, if nothing else for the sheer fun and joy I got from it. I'm sure I'll play it so much I'll tire of it, but so it is, in our world of fleeting fancies.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2013
I have said before that most of today's musicians lack imagination. Matisyahu is a gust of fresh air! The man has vision.
I love the old reggae of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff, but have never have had a taste for rap or hip hop.
When I heard Matisyahu, I loved it.
The sheer majesty of Fire of Heaven/Altar of Earth opens this album and you know this is something really powerful.
Matisyahu sings throughout about faith in the Almighty and the love for the Jewish people and land of Israel.
The lyrics are all extremely profound. Favourites include the energetic Youth, a commentary on the situation of youth today and calling on young people to take stand for thruth.
Dispatch The Troops, a sort of analogy with a young girl who has run away from her father's home to the lost Jewish people. Beautiful and compassionate.
What I'm Fighting For, a commentary on the struggle of the Jewish people and their faith in their creator and the classic reggae version of Psalm 137 Jerusalem, where the author celebrates Israel's return to Jerusalem and laments the evil demands for the Jews to leave their promised land.
"In the ancient days, we will return with no delay
Picking up the bounty and the spoils on our way
We've been travelling 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."
There is the beautiful love song "Unique Is My Dove" and the various other passionate combinations of grief, hope and faith.
This album reminds us of Reggae's early religious based work such as Jimmy Cliff's I Want To Know and his soulful ballad of his people I've Been Dead 400 Years, both from Music Maker, both these songs relate to the experience of faith and of Israel, the Jewish nation could sing "I've Been Dead 2000 Years". This is the work that may have influenced Matisyahu, Peter Tosh's "Moses the Prophet" from Bush Doctor and Bob Marley's Exodus and One LoveExodus.
The album also takes us back to the basic message of the theme of national liberation movement for the Jewish people which is in fact what Zionism is. Once Africanism was referred to as Black Zionism. All in the days before the Islamo-Fascists and Satanists of the Far Left brainwashed the world that Zionism is a "reactionary" movement.
4 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2006
This guy is da bomb!!!, slick beats, a must have album for the collection.