Music Exclusive: Matisyahu’s New Single, ‘Crossroads’

The former 'Hasidic reggae superstar' has a new look, a new sound — and a new song

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Matisyahu performs during the TEN featuring An Acoustic Evening with Matisyahu at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, May 24, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Go ahead: name another Jewish reggae singer from suburban New York who’s had a busier couple years than Matisyahu. In 2010, his anthemic single “One Day”, featuring Akon, was picked as NBC’s official song of the Vancouver Winter Olympics. The following December, however, the singer shocked his twitter followers by sending out a picture of himself after shaving off his signature beard and forelocks. “No more Chassidic reggae superstar,” he later wrote in a blog post. He’s now decamped from the traditional Hasidic community in Brooklyn where he’s spent the past decade and moved his family to Los Angeles. He’s also recorded a new album, Spark Seeker, produced by Kool Kojak (Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj) — a sleek, pop-influenced collection of tracks that marks a natural progression after his earthy, jam band-influenced live shows and the crossover success of “One Day”. “I think my music has always been a mixture,” Matisyahu tells TIME in an interview. “This record has definitely more of a pop, urban hip-hop kind of feel, mixed with a world music vibe because we recorded in Israel and got a lot of Middle Eastern sounds from over there.”

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The new track “Crossroads”, which you can hear exclusively on TIME.com above, is a departure for Matis as well. His hyperactive dancehall flow from earlier songs like “King Without a Crown” and “Youth” has been slowed down and juiced up, courtesy of Kool Kojak, into something that sounds like the deep roar of a Flo Rida chorus — a lot more South Beach than Trench Town. Perhaps to remind listeners that this is the same guy who performed with Phish in a black frock coat and fedora, however, the song features plenty of spiritual touches, like the religious chants that open the track. “Working with Kojak, his feel for rhythm and groove and just the drum sounds in particular, it’s just the kind of stuff I listened to in the ’90s — growing up and listening to hip-hop and that whole vibe. We come from a similar place, taste-wise,” Matisyahu says.

Spark Seeker comes out July 17; Matisyahu is currently on world tour, with upcoming dates in Los Angeles, Providence, Rhode Island and New York City. And don’t forget to check back on TIME.com next week for the rest of our exclusive interview with Matisyahu, where he’ll discuss the album, his faith and how his life has changed.

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7 comments
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treyphish
treyphish

Matisyahu is on the road to nowhere. He was authentic and real in the past but now looks like a dime a dozen effeminate pop star. How boring!! He left the goldmine that is the holy life of a serious Jew to the empty hole of secularism. Crowd diving into a deep mess. His spiritual "journey" is a joke. No one has a spiritual journey on facebook and twitter. Its a business journey. His big beard went grey, his act got stale and now he needed another good public relations plan. However this one will fail as you don't test G-d and win. You don't hurt young Jewish children who used to look up to you and win. Let's hope he comes back to his senses. Let's pray he does not lose his way any further and he starts to behave with the class and dignity befitting his holy Jewish soul.

Jason Stowell
Jason Stowell

So you're judging him by his appearance? Has his lyrics and message changed so much that they fall into the pop star message? For me they have not. When I look back and the different phases and appearance I've had throughout my life, how can I judge someone else for their chosen appearance?  You put down Facebook and Twitter while posting in a comments section? Personally, I have found much spirituality on Facebook. I've encountered organizations I had no idea existed. The wonderful nonprofit Sevenly was found on Facebook. I never knew about the various International Christian groups until Facebook either. I think you've missed some of his wonderful messages.

treyphish
treyphish

Ancient Jewish wisdom expresses the idea that the external strongly influences the internal.

To see Matisyahu trade in the most precious thing in the world for nothing more than a bag of sand is one of the saddest things I have ever seen. To the world it looks just like unnecessary externals, however there is thousands of years of deep wisdom behind all the customs of the Jews and a Jew is treading on thin ice when he or she leaves this precious heritage behind.

It is hard to understand how painful a sight, the new Matis look is unless you are a Jew and understand the significance and uniqueness of the role of the Jewish people.

Matis will not find any success until he allows himself help by people who are wiser than him. The way he looks now is very unhealthy both physically and mentally. He may just look like a regular rock star to most, but to those who understand the greatness of the Jewish people and holiness they bring to the world, this is a not a progression but rather a steep decline. Let's hope Matis cleans himself up and comes back home.

The doors are always open.

Abe Aronowski
Abe Aronowski

“He’s now decamped from the traditional Hasidic community in Brooklyn where he’s spent the past decade and moved his family to Los Angeles".

Nice. Hasid turned Bieber look alike.

Interesting how the Mr and Mrs are swinging like pendulums in unison. Easy On and then Easy Off. Was his wife equally ready to become Hasidic and then equally ready to leave Hasidism, precisely when Mr Matisyahu was?

Somewhat life altering, don't you think?

Hmmmm. Whatever is thought to sell.

$piritual quest? $pirit of the Dollar. As the pendulum swings.

Abe Aronowski
Abe Aronowski

"He’s now decamped from the traditional Hasidic community in Brooklyn where he’s spent the past decade and moved his family to Los Angeles". Sheesh. Hasid turned Bieber look-alike.Interesting how the family members are all swinging like pendulums in, unison. Easy On and then Easy Off. Was his wife equally ready to become Hasidic and then equally ready to leave Hasidism, precisely when Mr Matisyahu was? Somewhat life altering, don't you think?  Hmmmmm. Whatever is thought to $ell.Spirtual quest? Ha. ".

 

Sheesh. Hasid turned Bieber look-alike.Interesting how the family members are all swinging like pendulums in, unison. Easy On and then Easy Off. Was his wife equally ready to become Hasidic and then equally ready to leave Hasidism, precisely when Mr Matisyahu was?

Somewhat life altering, don't you think?  Hmmmmm.

Whatever is thought to $ell.Spirtual quest? Ha.

 

KEMC2k6
KEMC2k6

thanks for the preview