Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I liked him before he was fameous

Thanks to a friend's prodding, of course.

The artist known as Matisyahu is a born-again Jew who was born first in 1979 as Matthew Miller in the American dreamland of West Chester, Pennsylvania, to a pair of social workers whom he describes as 'non-practicing Jews'. His grandfather played pro basketball in 1930s Detroit and bequeathed the future singer his imposing height — six foot three and counting. The tall kid began rapping at high school and carried on at college in Manhattan. Troubled by the drug scene and searching for roots, he put in for a semester in Jewish spirituality, which gave him a list of synagogues to visit.

But what's everyone else's excuse?

It is clear that he never wanted to be attached to the general run of Jewish music, least of all to Orthodox wedding and bar mitzvah pop that hitches biblical and Talmudic lyrics to a Beach Boys beat. 'Those guys are 20, 30 years out of date,' snorts Matisyahu. 'Their stuff is not particularly Jewish and they don't belong to now.'

That could be it.

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