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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 at first, but Matisyahu was serious about his craft, and his diverse style soon garnered Grammy nominations, gold record certifications, and a broad audience. Matisyahu was born Matthew Miller on June 30, 1979, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Berkeley, California, which they eventually ditched for White Plains, New York. Miller initially rebelled against his traditional Jewish upbringing, considering himself a Deadhead and a hippie by his early teens. But at the age of 14, during a camping trip in Colorado, he reconciled himself to Judaism and visited Israel shortly thereafter. After returning to White Plains, he dropped out of high school and traveled the country to attend Phish concerts. Back at home again, he agreed to let his parents send him to a wilderness school in Bend, Oregon, where he became enamored of reggae and hip-hop, and began rapping at open-mike competitions. He returned to New York at 19 to attend the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, but also joined the Carlebach Shul, a synagogue where his musical interests were encouraged. Meeting a Lubavitch rabbi, he became interested in the strict Lubavitch Hasidic sect of Judaism and renamed himself Matisyahu. Continuing to perform, Matisyahu assembled a backing band consisting of guitarist Aaron Dugan, bassist Josh Werner, and drummer Jonah David. The group recorded Shake Off the Dust...Arise, which was released by JDub Records in 2004. While touring in support of the album, Matisyahu recorded one of his February 2005 concerts and released the material as Live at Stubb's, which was issued in April courtesy of Or Music before getting picked up for national distribution by Epic Records. Epic reissued it on August 23, 2005, as Matisyahu toured around the country and prepared a second studio album with producer Bill Laswell. The final product, Youth, appeared in March 2006 and was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Reggae Album. A simultaneously released dub version of the album was made available to mail-order customers. Meanwhile, Matisyahu's backing musicians chose to release additional material on their own, adopting the name Roots Tonic for the side project. Roots Tonic Meets Bill Laswell marked the group's debut in May 2006, and by the end of the year the EP/DVD combo No Place to Be was also released. Jonah David dropped out of the band in June 2007, however, and Roots Tonic effectively disbanded, despite the enlistment of replacement drummer Skoota Warner. The entire group (sans David) turned its focus back to Matisyahu instead, and Light marked the singer's third LP upon its release in August 2009. Two years later, Live at Stubb's, Vol. 2 would appear, this time with a companion DVD release. In late 2011, the singer posted a picture with a shaved head and payes cut with the caption, "No more Chassidic reggae superstar." As such, his 2012 effort Spark Seeker was more secular pop, and was produced by Kool Kojak, who had previously worked with Kesha and Nicki Minaj. In 2014, Matisyahu released his fifth LP, Akeda. The tracks had been written while on tour and then recorded at Studio G with producer Stu Brooks. ~ William Ruhlmann
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    Reggae Roots
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Albums by

Top Songs by

  1.   Song
  2.   One Day
  3.   King Without a Crown
  4.   Miracle
  5.   Running Away
  6.   Motivate
  7.   Buffalo Soldier
  8.   Time of Your Song
  9.   Sunshine
  10.   Jerusalem
  11.   Live Like a Warrior
  12.   Aish Tamid
  13.   Youth
  14.   Beat Box
  15.   Surrender
  16.   What I'm Fighting For
  17.   Refuge
  18.   Sea to Sea
  19.   Shade from the Sun
  20.   Struggla
  21.   Dispatch the Troops
  22.   Chop 'Em Down
  23.   Ayeka (Teach Me to Love)
  24.   We Will Walk
  25.   Thunder
  26.   Message in a Bottle
  27.   Ancient Lullaby
  28.   Warrior
  29.   Making of "Spark Seeker" [Commentary]
  30.   Breathe Easy
  31.   Bal Shem Tov
  32.   Temple
  33.   Silence
  34.   Two Child One Drop
  35.   Indestructible
  36.   Exaltation
  37.   Lord Raise Me Up
  38.   Fire and Heights
  39.   Wanderer
  40.   So High So Low
  41.   Akeda
  42.   Reservoir
  43.   Black Heart
  44.   Confidence
  45.   Star on the Rise
  46.   Watch the Walls Melt Down
  47.   Crossroads
  48.   Shine on You
  49.   Searchin
  50.   Crossroads
  51.   Open the Gates
  52.   Tzama L'cha Nafshi/Got No Water
  53.   For You
  54.   Escape
  55.   Smash Lies
  56.   Watching the Wheels
  57.   Spark Seekers
  58.   Unique Is My Dove
  59.   Shalom/Saalam
  60.   Fire of Heaven/Altar of Earth
  61.   Close My Eyes
  62.   Obstacles
  63.   Hard Way
  64.   Broken Car
  65.   Built to Survive
  66.   Happy Hanukkah
  67.   King Crown of Judah
  68.   Tel Aviv'n
  69.   Summer Wind
  70.   I Believe In Love
  71.   Fire of Freedom
  72.   Mist Rising
  73.   On Nature
  74.   Darkness into Light
  75.   I Will Be Light
  76.   So Hi So Lo
  77.   Late Night in Zion
  78.   WP
  79.   Candle
  80.   Short Nigun
  81.   Father in the Forest
  82.   Interlude
  83.   Tzama L'Chol Nafshi
  84.   Heights
  85.   Vow of Silence
  86.   Circle of Life
  87.   Got No Water
  88.   Crash Landings
  89.   Carry Me
  90.   Sick for So Long
  91.   Champion