by April C. Davila
Youth is the second studio album from singer Matisyahu, released after the Live at Stubbs Austin, TX studio album. His album continues to attracts new fans. It resides among the Billboard’s top 200.
The many influences of Matisyahu
Matisyahu is a reggae influenced, hip-hop artist from Bronx, NY. He is a 32-year-old, American born Jewish singer who delivers inspiring lyrics that have a tendency to revolutionize the actuality of this world. When the news is in shambles over war, hate and destruction, the force of Matisyahu’s lyrics speak to anyone willing to take note of changes in religious biases, church matters and life.
His words encourage youth to question authoritative figures when pressured to conform without an explanation. His lyrics touch on nostalgic angst and the search for love and peace. The album incorporates reggae, rock, hip hop and traditional ska influences. Matisyahu’s Jewish spirituality includes all of these subgenres.
Singing for peace
Youth delivers arousing beats that leave you in awe. The lyrics work almost instantaneously in affecting and inspiring change for peace in the audience. The end of the first song, “Fire of heaven/Alter on Earth,” includes lyrics like “You should be more subtle/You could keep your hustle/Keep your laugh and your hustle.” It is jaw-dropping for those with a pessimistic outlook.
A reggae-rock revival
Matisyahu’s sound is different than anyone in the music industry today. His music style is most comparable to the late 1960s reggae revival. His voice is soulful and mellow. His vocal delivery sounds like Derrick Morgan, a 1960s reggae singer. His sound is not only about content, but the groove. He does this by delivering track after track with a rendition of drum ballads and the shallow sound of his voice.
According to Matisyahu’s lyrics, Youth symbolizes unity to join in the power and struggle for young people’s rights. He speaks directly to them in the song, “Youth” with lyrics like, “The power is in your hands/Slam your fist on the table/And make your demand/You have the freedom to choose.” Music that gives you power like Matisyahu’s conveys a feeling of independence and opportunity.
The sound of his voice, though slow and low, gives off such resonance it executes traditional listening with simple lyrics that delivers thought and soul. His tone enforces that everyone’s attitudes and views matter. He does this with a mellow, but groovy, sound of fast beats that interchange with his rapping. This music suggests that a new world of possibilities is open to you specifically. The sound is mellow yet groovy woven to the echo of his beats. It makes you feel content. Lines like, “What I’m fighting for/It’s worth more than silver and gold” from the song “What I’m Fighting For” inspires powerful imagery into the subconscious imagination.
A message of salvation
Matisyahu expresses Youth almost like a revival of church ballads that insist in delivering the profound message of salvation. Some can live with the thought that God may not be real, but others may feel strongly that this album sends the message of needing a spiritual leader. As in the song, “King Without a Crown,” “You want God but you can’t deflate your ego”…”Ask god for mercy and he’ll throw you a rope.” There are times when the lyrics are too much about Matisyahu’s faith in his Jewish religion. Or even “Jerusalem” where the thought of forgetting Jerusalem is blasphemous, “Let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.”
It almost makes an atheist or agnostic recognize that spirituality is necessary for everyday life to feel whole.
Compared to today’s music industry, Matisyahu is the epitome of correction to the mainstream music that is now in shambles. He is like no other out there. He does not waste music time with synthesizers performing for him. In no time do track after track, begin almost immediately. He raps alongside the rhythm of the bass and drum startup. As the guitar chords come full circle, the guitar gears and his beat boxing shuffles into full swing. In less than 30 seconds you have a wild get up of young adults at the mercy of his music. You can not help but feel the need to get up and dance, do something. His rap is not about the indignities of the world, but about lifestyle changes and aiming for peace no matter what our differences may be.
Matisyahu does not waste music time with synthesizers performing for him. He raps alongside the rhythm of the bass and drum startup. As the guitar chords come in, the guitar gears and his beat boxing shuffles into full swing. In less than 30 seconds you have a wild get up of young adults at the mercy of his music. You can not help but feel the need to get up and dance. His rap is not about the indignities of the world, but about lifestyle changes and aiming for peace despite our differences.