Matisyahu expands sound, vision on Light

BMS talks with Matisyahu about his new album before he stops in Boston

, Staff Writer

A lot has changed since Matisyahu released Youth in 2006. Now, after lengthy delays and a lot of time on the road, the Hasidic Rap-Reggae sensation will release Light on August 25. The album represents an evolution of Matisyahu’s self-styled jams that have developed an obsessive fanbase and one of the most highly anticipated albums of the summer.

Originally scheduled for a 2008 drop date, the release of Light was pushed back in order to expand the album. “We had a new president at Epic [Records] and she listened to the record, liked it but wanted to see about working with some new producers and taking advantage of new opportunities that opened up” explains Matisyahu during a recent interview with Boston Music Spotlight. After recording sessions with the likes of Stephen McGregor, legendary reggae duo Sly & Robbie, and members of Fishbone, Light was given the greenlight.

Light is a collection of tunes that Matisyahu fans will certainly appreciate and recognize as part of the brand, but it also represents a new chapter for Matisyahu. “It’s a continuation from what I’ve done up until now, blending different styles of music.” he says.& “There’s a lot of different sounds. There’s some electronic stuff, there’s more organic, singer-songwriter kind of stuff, there’s some more kind of indie rock vibe, some hip hop stuff. Vocally, I do a lot of singing and rapping, but its not just the reggae chanting. It’s just kind of continued to evolve with the music.”

The evolution hasn’t been an entirely musical one. “Music is a spiritual experience, and you can’t separate the two,” says Matisyahu, who will perform at the Bank of America Pavilion on Tuesday. “In fact, the writing of Light involved a lot of personal and spiritual growth and work. The message in my music is pretty much all about inner personal struggles or inner personal journey. I try to stay away from politics. It’s not really my cup of tea anyway.”

Matisyahu’s own personal journey has been marked by extra study and reflection.& “I started with an evaluation of my philosophic view in the sect of Hasidim.” he explains. “I took things that I’d accepted as truth and started to reevaluated them and look at them from a more intellectual and objective standpoint.” Kabbalistic tales such as “The Seven Beggars” struck a chord, and eventually showed up or influenced that album.& Matisyahu explains, “The story leads to a lot of ideas like the insanity and madness of God and of this world. It led to the idea of kind of balancing insanity if the world.”

Madness and insanity may be commonplace in today’s world, but Matisyahu continues to spread his hopeful message of love and individualism. “In order to make music it requires the ability to listen, which I compare to a certain type of meditation.” he says. “And then there’s the experience of expression, which I compare to prayer, which is the calling out from the depth, the abyss. Reaching out and expressing yourself, and reaching out to God. So music is sort of a back and forth, this sort of ebb and flow between meditation and prayer.”

Fans can celebrate the experience with Matisyahu when he opens for Umphrey’s McGee at the Bank of America Pavilion on July 7.

Matisyahu performs with Umphrey’s McGee at the Bank of America Pavilion on Tuesday, July 7. Tickets are still available though Live Nation.

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