In the latest installment of Stereo Subversion’s “Internal Debate” series, Matisyahu’s new album Light goes under the microscope. I took part in this one, and my own response to the album is completely unimpressed: In a nutshell, the album is a garish, soulless makeover into the very worst kind of mainstream hip-hop. Here’s my mini-review blurb:
I don’t blame Matisyahu for no longer wanting to be pigeonholed as the guy who makes reggae with a Hassidic twist; I just wish he hadn’t thrown out the twist with the reggae. His latest, simply called Light, isn’t a facelift so much as a neutering, re-imagining Matisyahu as a purveyor of gaudy boom-bap rap and generic, overpolished pop. I guess he pulls it off okay, but why did he ever want to? With generically spiritual lyrics in tow, these tracks will be coming to a ringtone near you.
I’m reminded, once again, of an old Bob Dylan quote, which I’ve quoted in many a review and again seems appropriate here: It’s pretty good for what it is; it’s just that what it is isn’t very good.