Debating Matisyahu

matisyahu_light

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.

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3 responses to “Debating Matisyahu”

  1. Doug says :

    Here’s my question, Josh: What did you think of his previous albums? (Or have I simply failed to find your previous reviews of his music?) Thanks.

  2. Josh Hurst says :

    Doug, I’m not super well-versed in the Matisyahu canon, and on some level it’s not really “my thing,” but I think he’s pretty good at what he does, and the earlier albums are, I think, a little more natural and utilize his talents better than Light.

  3. Grant Wentzel says :

    The only Matisyahu album I can get past my reggae-purist friends is his pre-Stubb’s “Shake Off The Dust… Arise.” It’s a great disc, but good luck finding a copy!

    I’ve enjoyed his entire catalog so far, but each record leaves me a little cooler than the last

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