@ The Egyptian Room - 07/13/11
Photos by Sean Molin.
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.