With the popularity of Matisyahu, a Hasidic reggae
rapper, interest is growing in other Jewish Reggae music. Many of these Jewish Reggae albums are hard to find, but I predict that it will become easier soon, as record labels begin to realize the value of these fine musicians and make their albums widely available. So if you like Matisyahu, read on!
David Gould is a Jewish musician currently based out of Ithaca, NY. He was the bass player for the popular Northeast reggae band John Brown's Body, and has shared the stage with many of the world's greatest reggae musicians. Drawing on his Jewish heritage and his love for reggae and dub, Gould devised this project, which sets traditional Jewish prayers to reggae and dub beats.
2. Sista Warrior and Shakespear - (Stop The) Suicide BombersThis independently-released album might be tough to find, but if you can find it, grab it immediately. Sista Warrior writes songs about Jewish street life in Israel. This CD in particular highlights Sista Warrior's firm belief in peaceful resolutions of problems, versus the all-too-common street violence and mass murder which has become such a part of Israeli life.
Sean Paul is a wildly popular reggae/dancehall artist, both in his native Jamaica and throughout the rest of the world. Many people don't associate him with Judaism, but in fact, he claims Sephardic Jewish heritage through his paternal line. With this in mind, many of his songs that would have sounded like they were based in the Rastafarian
religion actually can be interpreted to be Judaic as well.
This excellent album is comprised mainly of songs to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover
. Obviously, they're all set to reggae beats. Eder experimented (successfully) in touching on several subgenres of reggae, from dub to roots to hip-hop. His band is large and incredibly diverse, coming from many countries and traditions and bringing it all together for this great project. Eder also has a Reggae Chanukah album.
This New York-based band takes the Jewish reggae thing one step further - they not only blend Jewish-themed lyrics, but klezmer music
as well! Their first release is appropriately titled Rasta Meets the Rabbi
, and there's a fun YouTube video of Klezska
playing in New York City which should give you a decent idea of their sound.
6. Ari Ben-Moses - Burning BushThis Jewish reggae jam-band leans toward the rock-and-roll side of things. The wailing guitar solos are beyond impressive, and the lyrics, like most of these albums, are heavily slanted toward the theme of world peace.
King Django is one of the better-known names on this list, especially in Europe, and many people don't directly associate him with Judaism, but he does, in fact, explore the old-testament verses and prayers that Rastafarianism
and Judaism have in common. He also incorporates elements of klezmer music (as well as swing, soul, rock, American folk music
and more). This album is a particularly rollicking one, delving deeply into the dancehall reggae sound.
8. Ron Wiseman - Mystical MoodRon Wiseman is very dedicated to his role as a Jewish reggae musician. He digs his heels hard into his signature pop-reggae sound, while writing gentle and beautiful songs that showcase the poetic nature of the Old Testament.
Jamie Saft is best-known as a producer and composer, he's worked with many great jazz, rock and pop musicians including The Beastie Boys and The B-52's. However, he explored reggae-influenced drum-and-bass dance music on this excellent release which shows off not only his top-notch production skills, but his musical skills as well.
10. Kayama - Mussareggae
Kayama is a French-born Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who has a deep love for Bob Marley and other reggae greats, and chose to spend his non-Rabbinical hours making music. His songs are in English and Hebrew and are primarily messages of peace and unity. They're set over a lightly grooving reggae beat that's clearly evocative of late 1960's Bob Marley