Matisyahu is a frequent subject of this blog—whether it’s talking with Christians about Moshiach or being mentioned as a point of comparison for my beard. The latest occasion is a Q&A the reggae rapper did with Rabbi Naomi Levy, who happens to be married to The Jewish Journal’s Rob Eshman:
NL: Yes, I’m curious how you think your words affect Jews and non-Jews.
M: Well, I think there’s definitely a certain kind of pride that Jewish kids get from my music, but I think everyone’s going to come to it from a different place. There’s definitely a large amount of young, Jewish kids out there that might be affiliated, [or] might not be, and the music is their kind of bridge into combining their Jewish identity with mainstream culture. When I was a kid, there was never anything really like that. There was never really any kind of a bridge between those two things, and they were always kind of at odds with each other, coming from a secular background. So I think for those kids, it’s a beautiful thing to have those feelings and that pride.
NL: Most performers, even if they are Jewish, they’re not out there being Jewish while they’re performing. With you it’s so out there, which gives your audience a different kind of connection.
M: Yeah, totally different thing altogether. And then for people that are not necessarily Jewish, you have to give people credit. People, when they’re into music or into something, they investigate it, they study it, they just feel the way it resonates inside of them, and it’s just as powerful for a non-Jew as it is for those kids.
NL: So what is your hope for how your music can affect people, Jews and non-Jews? What would be your dream of what your music could do for people?
M: Obviously I want to be able to sell out stadiums and to sell millions of records and all that and have all those opportunities, but for me the vision part of it is really about being able to really make something happen, something real, and then everything that would come along with that, it would be a reflection.
NL: What would be that thing?
M: It’s like a certain magic that happens sometimes on stage or in the studio, and it’s when you have that moment. It’s this kind of real emotional experience that takes place where it’s kind of a unification, that’s sort of a transcendent experience.
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