Recommended by Eric Grandy
Matisyahu is undoubtedly devoted and faithful, and yet his iconic stage persona feels gimmicky and calculated. His earnestly worn Hasidic attire and Orthodox Judaism grant him an exoticized authenticity that trumps race and class, allowing white, middle-American footbaggers entry into a musical tradition that is otherwise comically foreign to them (as in white dreadlocks and the ubiquitous freshman-dorm Bob Marley poster). What's really bizarre is how Matisyahu's bland, lyrically ascetic music has become so popular. At least with dub appropriators like Sublime or jam-band heroes like Phish, there's a culture of rebellious hedonism to entice the youth. But Matisyahu's lyrics call out materialism, drug use, atheism, and apathy, all without even the radical political undertones of traditional reggae. Could it be that the kids just want to rock out with God? It's a possibility that shakes the very foundations of rock music.