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King of reggae, Matisyahu, trades crown for yarmulke

Ayan Sheikh / Multimedia editor

Ohio State students filled the Archie M. Griffin Ballroom at the Ohio Union Thursday to watch and listen to Grammy-nominee reggae and hip-hop artist Matthew Paul Miller, better known by his stage name, Matisyahu, perform some of his hits and share some of his life experiences with the audience.   

The Ohio Union Activities Board organized the event, called “Matisyahu on Music and Meaning.”

Miller entertained the audience by singing songs such as “Silence,” “Jerusalem,” “Darkness in the Light” and “King Without a Crown.”

Although he spent a great portion of the two hours singing, rapping and beat-boxing, he did answer a few questions directed to him by students about his Jewish beliefs and the messages he tries to get across to his fans.

Miller shared the story of when he began to sport the yarmulke, customary Jewish headwear, with the audience and his parents’ — who were Jewish but not particularly devout — reactions to it.

“I put on the yarmulke and I was looking in the mirror, (and) I was like, ‘Nah, this is not so bad, really,’ and I went downstairs to the kitchen — I was living with my parents at home at the time — and my parents were like, ‘What the hell? What is this?'” he said.

He went on to explain reaction from others, as well.

“We were driving to Florida because my grandmother was sick, so I remember we pulled over at a gas station somewhere in the South,” he said. “I went in and I forgot I had the yarmulke on and I just noticed people were looking at me … a little differently than I was used to, and I realized, ‘Oh, I got the yarmulke on.”

Miller also recalled when he realized he had a calling in music.

“As a kid, I think I was an OK performer, but I never really found my nature and what I wanted to be in terms of music and the kind of music that I liked until later on,” he said.

Miller said he listened to a wide variety of music.

“I became really absorbed to listening to bands and singers at the time, and once I started singing, I remember a couple of moments where I sang for people,” he said. “I sang the Bob Marley song, ‘No Woman No Cry,’ and knew it (the song) touched them, and I realized, ‘Oh I’m a good singer.'”

Although tickets to the event were sold out, it took a while for students to fill the ballroom.

Once everyone was seated, all eyes were on the stage waiting for the artist to arrive.

It wasn’t until 7:15 p.m. that he took the stage along with his guitarist Adam Weinberg.

Matisyahu not only dazzled the crowd with his unique style of music, he also incorporated beat-boxing and fast-paced rapping into most of his songs, which the crowd seemed to enjoy.

Chad Naiman, a third-year in chemistry, said it was Matisyahu’s music that helped him make an important life decision.

“My first song was ‘One Day,'” he said. “I was about to do something that was really important to me and I thought that one day maybe I will get it done and it worked out. It was inspiring.”

Caitlin Clifton, a first-year in international studies, described the performance as “relaxing.”

“I thought it was amazing and really relaxing to come and just hear reggae music,” she said. “It’s so different from anything else you hear around campus.”

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