Mack: Matisyahu lacks ‘Spark’ of rapWritten by Jason Mack | | email@example.com
Matisyahu, “Spark Seeker”
When Matisyahu broke onto the scene with “King Without a Crown” in 2004, he was a breath of fresh air as a fully-bearded Hasidic Jew with a crazy flow to his rap backed by elements of reggae. On his latest album, “Spark Seeker,” the rap is abandoned for a strictly reggae album laced with electro-pop.
I’m fine with him shaving off the beard. Those things are itchy and gather debris like a lint trap. But rap was what made him special. In 2004 he was the best white rapper outside of Eminem. Today he could be third behind Yelawolf. Matisyahu’s reggae served as a solid backdrop to his fast-paced rap, but it’s not good enough to stand alone. It reminds me alarmingly of Sean Paul, but to be fair he’s far better than Paul on lyrics alone.
Experimenting with electro-pop is one of the reasons this album fails. It doesn’t mesh well with reggae and distracts from his above-average lyrics. I’ve never been a fan of overusing synthesizers, and this album does nothing to change my mind.
Between shaving the beard and the electro-pop it would be easy to accuse Matisyahu of selling out. But in his defense, he has stuck to his roots with religion still a heavy influence on his music. He opens the album on “Crossroads” praying with a chant in Hebrew before contemplating his identity with lyrics like, “They say I inspired, but I’m still looking for my fire. These lies have got me tired. I’m free falling. I’m done stalling. I’m done crawling up this mountain top. I won’t stop ‘til I manifest my craft. The top is close.” These lyrics paint the picture that he is exploring his musical and spiritual identity rather than selling out.
Unfortunately, the reasoning makes no difference as the result is a mediocre album without a single song worth recommending.
* out of 5