When: Tue., Aug. 7, 7 p.m. 2012
Early last year, when gossip site TMZ pressed him to comment on Drake's claim to be "the best Jew to ever do it," rapper Matisyahu responded with a puzzling statement: "He's Jewish, but he's not representing Judaism." Matisyahu is a pop oddity, a self-proclaimed "Hasidic reggae superstar" who raced up the Billboard charts in the aughts with a pop-friendly mix of reggae and rap. It's strange that an artist who's arguably as famous for his traditional Hasidic garb as he is for his music would critique another MC's work based on its perceived Jewishness; after all, few orthodox Jews study the Wailers or Lee "Scratch" Perry as though they were the Torah. Matisyahu's comment looks even sillier in retrospect, because he ditched the outward religious trappings late last year—no more beard, yarmulke, tefillin, et cetera—and has continued his Jewish spiritual quest according to rules apparently known only to himself. The lyrics of his new Spark Seeker (Fallen Sparks) mix Jewish references and ideals with dunderheaded posi platitudes, and the album's blend of sleek sounds—bits of reggae, hip-hop, traditional Middle Eastern music, and, um, smooth jazz—has been distilled into dance pop. As ambitious as Matisyahu's latest crossover attempt is, though, it's basically the same old schmaltz. —Leor Galil The Dirty Heads and Moon Taxi open.