December 1, 2005
The New ‘King’ of KROQ
Could you name the No. 1 requested song for the past three weeks at L.A. rock station KROQ (106.7 FM)? If you're thinking about current hits like "Dance Dance" by Fall Out Boy or "Hypnotize" by System of a Down, guess again.
The most requested song features these lyrics:
"Sing to my God all these songs of love and healing
Want Moshiach now so it's time we start revealing."
And, no, Rabbi Shlomo Cunin did not hijack the station.
The lyrics are from "King Without a Crown" by Matisyahu, the sensational Chasidic reggae artist whose CD, "Live at Stubbs," is already No. 3 on the Billboard reggae charts. ("King Without A Crown" stands at No. 24 on Billboard's modern rock chart.) The song tells of a man connecting with his God, and speaks about Hashem, the Torah, Moshiach, and various Chasidic concepts like nullifying oneself. Since it started getting airplay, local sales have topped 2,000 a week. Total CD sales have surpassed 100,000.
"I think it is a little crazy that we have a song that has lines about the Moshiach playing on KROQ," said Aaron Bisman, Matisyahu's manager. (Matisyahu was playing a concert in London and could not be reached for comment.)
"I don't know if I think it is strange, more than I think it is cool," said Lisa Worden, KROQ's music director. "Anyone who listens to the words can find some meaning to it, whether Jewish or not. To me if you have spirituality you will relate to the song. I am not Jewish, and I think the song is awesome."
Matisyahu never tries to sermonize his listeners, Bisman said. "Christian Rock is about missionizing people....Matisyahu is never about 'You need to be like me.' It's more about where [he is] at."
So how did KROQ discover the song in the first place? Well Matisyahu has three record labels collaborating for him -- the nonprofit JDUB, Or Music and Epic Records, which is owned by Sony.
"Getting him onto KROQ was a combination of years of work and a strong fan base," Bisman said. "The buzz around Matisyahu has been going for a long time."