Born Matthew Paul Miller, Matisyahu (who uses his Hebrew name for his recording career) is a Jewish reggae musician. He is perhaps best known for his ability to expertly blend traditional Jewish themes and lyrics with more common music genres, including reggae, rock and hip-hop. “King Without a Crown” is Matisyahu’s most successful mainstream single to date. He has released three studio albums, two remixed CDs, a concert DVD and one live recording since 2004.
Raised a Reconstructionist Jew, he started his career as MC Truth in the band Soulfori. He passed a few years as a self-professed “deadhead,” taking drugs and following the band Phish on tour. For much of his career, Matisyahu was affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community in Brooklyn, New York, until 2007, when he was quoted as telling the Miami New Times that he longer identifies with the Lubavitch movement. Because of his faith, Matisyahu does not perform concerts on Friday nights to observe the Jewish Sabbath.
Matisyahu’s career was launched at Bonnaroo I 2005, when Trey Anastasio of Phish invited him to be a guest musician during his set. He then released a live album in 2005, which received both mainstream and critical praise. Shake Off the Dust, which is Matisyahu’s first effort, has risen in popularity since the release of his subsequent albums. He has since toured the U.S., Canada and Europe extensively since 2005 and released a remix album in 2006, covering The Police tune “Message in a Bottle.”
His style of music in unique, mixing reggae, traditional forms of rap and rock and guitar solos. Most of his songs are recorded in English, with sprinklings of Hebrew and Yiddish here and there. His reggae style of vocals mimics traditional Rasta Roots with dub sounds, ala Junior Kelly or Buju Banton.