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Matisyahu

Live at Stubb's
JDub

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No worries: You'll be forgiven for assuming that Matisyahu -- a dub and hip-hop influenced emcee who refers to himself as The Hasidic Reggae Superstar -- is little more than a novelty act. But (oddly enough) you'd be wrong. And the brilliance of Live at Stubb's, recorded at the legendary Austin venue, is how effectively it drives that point home. Matisyahu drops the occasional mini-sermon here and there between songs (much to the satisfaction of his audience), but he generally manages to keep the flow moving steadily downstream. Nonetheless, it's unlikely that many of these tracks will excite anyone other than the most fervent reggae obsessive; Stubb's may be engaging and well produced, and Matisyahu is clearly at the top of his game here, lyrically speaking. (Some songs are reminiscent of modern-day dub, such as Sublime, while others seem to be channeling Kingston itself.) But there simply isn't enough musical originality, or for that matter, emotional intensity, to qualify Stubb's for a spot in the reggae canon. Yet I suspect Yahweh is still duly pleased.

 

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