Looks like everyone's favorite Hasidic reggae singer/rapper might just outlast his novelty status after all. But that doesn't necessarily make it safe to go back in the reggae waters for anyone aspiring to stand out based on his, uh, demographic makeup alone. On one hand, it's unfortunate that Matisyahu's work is so often viewed through the lens of his being white and Jewish. On the other hand, despite the undeniable catchiness of his songs, which bump and grind like party anthems in disguise, 'Syahu wouldn't necessarily have stood out as much musically if he didn't, well, stand out so much otherwise. To his credit, it takes guts for him to try to forge a career in reggae — or popular music at all — given the limits imposed by his faith. But his life choices also work to attract constant attention to his music, which, in all fairness, doesn't land that far ahead of, say, Sublime in terms of its supposed authenticity. And no one really expects it to. Take, for example, his irresistible cover of the Police's "Message in a Bottle." As an appropriation of an appropriation, the song is fun, danceable, makes perfect sense, and speaks to the glorious mishmash of cultures the world has become.
Sun., Oct. 25, 6:30 p.m., 2009
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