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Hassidic Reggae

so i’ve known about Matisyahu for a while, but i’ve never listened to him till now. i’m only listening to my first track, so i can’t comment on the music, but there’s a whole lot of hype surrounding him, especially in the jewish community (no duh). it’s especially funny that the chabadniks w/ whom i pray on a weekly basis are all over him – i mean, he raps. it’s reggae. he performed at stubb’s. i’m sure many of them had no idea what stubb’s was before Matisyahu came here to record his live album.

i thought he was a gimmick first time i heard about the chassidic rapper, but then i saw his website and figured, ok maybe he’s legit. just now i downloaded the album, and the first song i listened to was ‘refuge’, the 10th track off the ‘live at stubb’s’ album. he prelude’s the song w/ how united everyone used to be around god, etc. it’s then that it struck me that Matisyahu is the jewish version of christian rock, but far cooler and far more real. all the christian rock i’ve listened to – and i’ve listened to a lot – is such garbage that it makes me angry (i have a fascination w/ the movement to make christianity ‘cool’ to the young generations, as well as an incurable addiction to listening/watching preachers on AM radio and the TBN tv network.). so let me rant a moment about christian rock and the ‘cool’ christianity, then back to Matisyahu.

this is not a critique of christianity as a religion, but rather the movement to bring it to younger generations by dressing it up in pop culture. pure and simple, it’s crap. i understand the concept of translating the increasingly archaic language of religion to suit modern times, but making bibles in neon pink and green and in teeny-bopper language is really just dumbing it down as opposed to raising the intellectual level of the learner. i was at dallas love-field (southwest airline’s hub) and saw a neon pink bible marketed for teen girls in modern teen speak. then i hear the ‘i love jesus’ and ‘he died for me’ music that is so devoid of any real meaning that i want to punch something (ironic, huh) – it’s just a cover to indoctrinate. the music is formulaic – give the band an alternative sounding name like jars of clay or project 86 and give the band members long hair and leather, have them rock out and sound like every other alternative band, and that makes it modern and cool. do the same for the music videos.

anyway, so i heard matisyahu, and the principles of his music are totally not the jewish version of christian rock. he’s rockin for himself, he’s not trying to bring anyone into the fold. people like him b/c of his music, not b/c he’s convinced them that god is the end all and be all. i mean, he rocked out at stubb’s! if anyone’s been to austin, you know that it’s a good music venue, and not a propaganda soapbox. so while he raps about god and jewish history (and that’s where he’s equivalent to christian rock), he’s not a market ploy like christian rock is.

i bet this post actually attracts random readers and gets me some angry comments.

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