By Kevin Jackson—–
MATISYAHU, the American-Jewish performer who has made a name blending traditional Jewish themes with reggae, rock and hip hop, has set July 17 for the release of his fourth studio album, Spark Seeker.
It comes three years after his previous album Light, spent 34 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Reggae album chart.
Matisyahu performing at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in Montego Bay in 2009.
Prior to Light, Matisyahu released Shake off the Dust… Arise (2004); and Youth (2006) which sold more than 500,000 copies in the United States.
In a recent interview with Splash, Matisyahu spoke about his new album which he says was inspired by the Jewish Kabala.
He enlisted former Bad Boy rapper Shyne, J Ralph and Ravid Kahalani to work on this latest project.
Matisyahu says he has been a fan of Belize-born Shyne since his collaboration with lovers rock singer Barrington Levy on the hit song Bad Boyz.
“I reached out to him when I decided to go to Israel to do some recording. I knew he was staying in Jerusalem,” he said.
Spark Seeker contains 13 tracks. Unlike Youth and Light, it will not be on a major label. It will be released via Fallen Sparks/Thirty Tigers/RED.
According to Matisyahu, he is consistently pushing the boundaries of reggae music.
“I believe my music and this record in particular are a unique blending of things,” he said. “It has elements of a pop record, very melodic, crunchy beats, lots of hooks, juxtaposed with an organic Middle Eastern vibe from our time recording there.”
He added: “I believe that I continue to push boundaries on this record of what is reggae music.”
Matisyahu’s fan base is largely middle-class white Americans. He performed at the 2009 Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival but has not made a huge impression on the Jamaican reggae market, which he also addressed.
“At the end of the day you can’t control who listens to your music. If you have a good PR person then people will hear it,” he explained. “My last studio release was more of a departure from the typical reggae delivery that I had in my earlier records although I believe with this new record I return to a more reggae delivery as a vocalist.”
The legendary ‘Riddim Twins’ Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare worked on Light which was partly recorded in Jamaica.
Matisyahu does not discount future collaborations with Jamaican musicians.
“I’m sure I’ll come back again and do some work there,” said.