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For the 2nd century BC Jewish high priest of the Maccabees, see Mattathias.Matthew Paul Miller (born June 30, 1979), known by his Hebrew name and stage name Matisyahu ("Gift of God"), is an American reggae rapper and alternative rock musician.Known for blending Orthodox Jewish themes with reggae, rock and hip hop beatboxing sounds, Matisyahu's 2005 single "King Without a Crown" was a Top 40 hit in the United States. Since 2004, he has released four studio albums as well as two live albums, two remix CDs and two DVDs featuring live concerts. In addition, Matisyahu played the role of Tzadok in The Possession, a supernatural horror film directed by Ole Bornedal and co-produced by Sam Raimi. Through his career, Matisyahu has worked with Bill Laswell reggae producers Sly & Robbie, and Kool Kojak.Early lifeMatisyahu was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania. His family eventually settled in White Plains in Westchester County, New York. He was brought up a Reconstructionist Jew, and attended Hebrew school at Bet Am Shalom, a synagogue in White Plains. He spent much of his childhood barely learning the tenets of Judaism, but by the time he was a teenager, Matisyahu began to rebel against his lack of upbringing. He started taking drugs and dropped out of White Plains High School. He became a self-professed "Phish-head," taking hallucinogens and following the rock band Phish on tour. He finished high school at a wilderness program in Bend, Oregon.In the fall of 1995, Matisyahu took part in a two-month program at the Alexander Muss High School in Hod Hasharon, Israel, a program which offers students first-hand exploration of Jewish heritage as a way of solidifying Jewish identity. After he finished Muss, he returned to New York, where he subsequently dropped out of high school after the first day of his senior year and traveled around the country. A stint in a rehabilitation center in upstate New York followed, and he then went to Oregon on a wilderness expedition trip for teenagers. “It was not necessarily for drug rehabilitation, but that was part of the reason I was out there,” he explained to a journalist of The Jewish Daily Forward in 2008.In Oregon, he identified himself as “Matt, the Jewish rapper kid from New York.” In Oregon (unlike in New York City), Matisyahu said, “I was suddenly the token Jew. This was now my search for my own identity, and part of Judaism feeling more important and relevant to me.” He moved back to New York and started developing his reggae, spending hours in his room, writing and practicing his style to the accompaniment of hip-hop tapes. Around that same time, he says, he started to become more interested in Judaism, taking classes on Jewish spirituality at The New School. Matisyahu approached Eli Cohen, a rabbi at New York University, about learning. He recounts that at the same time, he started praying, getting himself a siddur (prayer book) and tallit (prayer shawl). He learned of the Carlebach Shul (synagogue), located on the Upper West Side, and started going there every Sabbath, as well as wearing a yarmulke (head covering) and tzitzit (fringed undergarment). It was then that he met NYU’s Chabad rabbi, Dov Yonah Korn, someone he could relate to. Matisyahu began playing with the Jewish band Pey Dalid. At the age of 19, Matisyahu formally joined the Lubavitch movement and took Matisyahu as a Hebrew form of his name.2001–2007From 2001 through July 2007, Matisyahu was affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. However, as of July 17, 2007, he told the Miami New Times in an interview that he no longer "necessarily" identifies with the Lubavitch movement. In the interview he stated that "...the more I'm learning about other types of Jews, I don't want to exclude myself. I felt boxed in." Additionally, in the fall of 2007, while on a family vacation spent primarily in Jerusalem's Nachlaot neighborhood, he expressed interest in another Hasidic sect, that of Karlin. As of November 2007 he has confirmed a preference to pray at the Karliner synagogue in Boro Park where the custom is to ecstatically scream prayers; however he continues to reside in Crown Heights because of his wife's affinity for the community.Soon after his adoption of hasidism, Matisyahu began studying Torah at Hadar Hatorah, a yeshiva for returnees to Judaism where he wrote and recorded his first album. He counts Bob Marley, Phish, God Street Wine and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach among his musical inspirations and gives credit to Rabbi Simon Jacobson's book Toward a Meaningful Life for the lyrical inspiration to Youth's title track. As part of his faith, he strictly observes the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sundown on Friday; thus he does not perform in concert on Friday nights. An exception to this rule occurred at a 2007 concert in Fairbanks, Alaska; since the sun did not set until 2:00 a.m., performing in the late hours was not a violation of Jewish observance.Musical styleMatisyahu fuses the contemporary styles of reggae, rap, beatboxing, and hip-hop in general, with the more traditional vocal disciplines of jazz's scat singing and Judaism's hazzan style of songful prayer. The New York Times' Kelefa Sanneh wrote that "His sound owes a lot to early dancehall reggae stars like Barrington Levy and Eek-a-Mouse." The Chicago Tribune's Kevin Pang described a Matisyahu performance as "soul-shaking brand of dancehall reggae, a show that captures both the jam band vibe of Phish and the ska-punk of Sublime." Coming from his Jewish beliefs and compounding his use of the hazzan style, Matisyahu's lyrics are mostly English with more than occasional use of Hebrew and Yiddish.In 2006, Matisyahu stated that "All of my songs are influenced and inspired by the teachings that inspire me. I want my music to have meaning, to be able to touch people and make them think. Chasidism teaches that music is 'the quill of the soul.' Music taps into a very deep place and speaks to us in a way that regular words can't."In 2009, he said about his recently released album Light, "I think the vast majority of people that respect what I do are willing to move with me. I think it's not so much about genres or styles of music as it is about expressing the emotion or the idea. ... Whatever allows you to do that, whatever style, as long as it's authentic." In 2010 he also confirmed his first speaking date at the University of Central Florida.FamilyMatisyahu met NYU film student Talia when she interviewed him for a documentary about men and women not touching. Rabbi Korn set them up, and they married in August 2004. Together they have sons Laivy (2005), Shalom, and Menachem Mendel (2011).Origin of his nameMatisyahu is an Ashkenazic Hebrew pronunciation of a Biblical Hebrew name (?????? – Mattityahu; Greek: Mattathias), the name of the 2nd century BCE Jewish leader of the Maccabees' revolt. The English equivalent is Matthew.In an interview in Kosher Spirit Magazine (a publication by OK Kosher Certification), Matisyahu explained the origin of his use of the name as follows: while he, like most Jewish boys, received a Hebrew name at his brit milah (circumcision ceremony), when he was eight days old, Miller's family lost track of the names given. In Hebrew school, it was assumed to be Matisyahu because of the connection between Matthew and Matisyahu. The original certificate of birth was later located and Miller discovered that the actual name given at the brit was the Yiddish name "Feivish Hershel". He was advised by his rabbis to continue using the Hebrew name that he had grown up with.AppearanceOn December 13, 2011, Matisyahu posted a beardless picture of himself on Twitter, explaining on his website:In June 2012, Matisyahu appeared in an online video to promote his new single "Sunshine" with his hair dyed blonde and appeared to be without a yarmulke, causing a big stir within the Jewish blogosphere. Controversy also arose due to some confusion as to whether or not Matisyahu was still spiritually Jewish. He has confirmed several times including with that he certainly is still spiritually Jewish.VeganismMatisyahu is a vegan and a founding member of the Jewish vegan organization, the Shamayim V'Aretz Institute.Touring membersMatisyahu – vocals (2000–present)Stu "Bassie" Brooks – bass guitar (2009–present)Joe Tomino – drums (2009–present)D.P. Holmes – guitar (2009–present)Borahm Lee – keyboards (2006–07)Skoota Warner – drums (2007–08)Jason Fraticelli – bass (2007–09)Rob Marscher – keyboards (2008–2012)Aaron Dugan – guitar (2004–10)Jonah David – drums (2004–07)Josh Werner – bass (2004–07)


Hot tracks

Matisyahu - King Without A Crown

King Without A Crown