Matisyahu - Youth

With the Australian release of Youth, Matisyahu introduces a brand of hip hop fused with dancehall reggae that Aussie ears may not have heard much of. In a style reminiscent of Seeed or Damien Marley, Matisyahu layers raps and singing over reggae guitar, drums and bass with some keyboards. His music is soulful, and positive tracks create an uplifting mood similar to some of Michael Franti/Spearhead's more positive numbers.


The tracks from Youth released early for radio are "Youth" and "King Without A Crown", and many of you have probably heard these. "Youth" is a call-to-arms for the young men and women of the world to "slam your fist on the table and make your demands", and has a catchy chorus that is sure to draw in many fans. "King Without A Crown" is more religion based, talking about the importance of God in Matisyahu's life. When Matthew Miller chose to embrace Judaism and convert to Matisyahu, he obviously saw an opportunity to voice his beliefs through music, and this forms the basis of most of Youth.


Those who have opposing beliefs may find it difficult to see past the religion, but all will appreciate Matisyahu's talent and the fact that he is genuine in his messages of peace. "What I'm Fighting For" is a good example, calling for Jews to unite with the message "What I'm fighting for/Is a chance to unite the past/With the brothers coming home at last/Fighting together for light".


Matisyahu also covers topics such as self-worth in "Late Night In Zion", and the subjectiveness of wealth in "Fire Of Heaven/Altar Of Earth" with the insightful lines "The poor man has it all but not content with anything/While the rich mans hands are empty but he's sitting like a king".


On first listen, one might not notice the instrumental detail, but Matisyahu definitely has some talented musicians in his band. "Youth" has some good breakdowns, while "Unique Is My Dove" has some good drumming.


Beatboxing is also featured on Youth, with "Shalom/Salaam" being a good example. Bill Laswell's production combines all of these sounds fairly well to create an overall mix that usually pleases, but overproduction is sometimes evident, as in the MTV sounding "Jerusalem". This can be overlooked though, because this track comes straight after the brilliant aforementioned "What I'm Fighting For", which you will probably skip back to anyway.


A bonus disc is also included, featuring some decent songs, while some lyrics are included in the liner notes. Along with these lyrics is Psalm 27 which calls for an embrace of God. Sorry Matisyahu, I am passionately atheist - surprisingly though, I am able to look past this and listen to this album over and over again. You probably will to, especially if you like anything similar to this. You can see Matisyahu if you have a ticket to Splendour; if not, download the track "Youth" and if you like it, go out and buy this album.

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