The lineup for Wednesday’s show at the MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa reverberates beyond the traditional definitions of reggae and hip-hop to where the genre distinctions don’t matter as much as vibe they share.
Matisyahu co-headlines the Good Vibes Summer Tour 2013 along with Rebelution (see related story), while Collie Buddz and Zion-I fill out the bill.
Matisyahu got famous in the early 2000s with his juxtaposition of hip-hop-heavy dancehall reggae and traditional Judaism. Matthew Miller rebelled against his upbringing as a Reconstructionist Jew in West Chester County, Pa., dropping out of White Plains High School to go on Phish tour and finish high school through a wilderness program in Bend, Ore., where he also performed as MC Truth in the band Soulfori.
“I was suddenly the token Jew,” Miller said, according to Wikipedia. “This was now my search for my own identity and part of Judaism feeling more important and relevant to me.”
Miller moved back to New York City, where he immersed himself in writing, reggae and hip-hop tapes as well as his Hebrew roots: He started studying Jewish spirituality and adopted what would become his signature look, replete with yarmulke and fringed tzizit undergarment.
Adopting his traditional Hebrew name (meaning “Gift of God”) for the stage, Matisyahu rocked the Lubavich look and mics with equal fervor. Since debuting with “Shake Off the Dust … Arise” in 2004, Matisyahu has released three more studio albums (“Youth” peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard charts in 2006) along with three live albums (including two volumes from Stubb’s BBQ in Austin, Texas) and two remix albums.
Since the peak of his popularity in the middle of the past decade, Matisyahu has lightened up on the hardline Hebrew stuff and taken a different, more electronic, direction with his music. He even dropped the beard and went blond for recent tours.
Zion-I represents another sort of juxtaposition: Despite the name, the duo of producer AmpLive and MC Zumbi (formerly Zion) isn’t a reggae band but rather probably the closest thing to old-school hip-hop the Bay Area underground has to offer. Zion-I made a splash with critics on its debut album, “Mind Over Matter,” in 2000 and since has appeared on everything from West Coast college radio to video games and movie sound tracks without losing a shred of underground cred. The duo frequently collaborates with other West Coast hip-hop luminaries, including Living Legends, and released “Heroes in the Healing of the Nation,” a collaboration with the Grouch (and a follow-up to 2006’s “Heroes in the City of Dope), last year.
Bridging the bill in terms of hip-hop and reggae is rising reggae fusion star Collie Buddz. If New Orleans-born, Bermuda-raised Colin Harper’s stage name doesn’t remind audiences of positive vibrations, his appearances alongside the likes of Snoop Lion (on “Smoke the Weed”) might enlighten listeners.
The show is at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the MontBleu Outdoor Events Center; tickets are $30 in advance or $35 on the day of the show.