Think about how mad Metallica’s fans got when singer James Hetfield cut his hair. Now pretend you’re a huge follower of reggae rapper Matisyahu and you logged into his website on Tuesday morning to find out that the ’Mat you knew is no more.
“This morning I posted a photo of myself on Twitter,” he wrote. “No more Chassidic reggae superstar. Sorry folks, all you get is me…no alias. When I started becoming religious 10 years ago it was a very natural and organic process. It was my choice. My journey to discover my roots and explore Jewish spirituality–not through books but through real life. At a certain point I felt the need to submit to a higher level of religiosity…to move away from my intuition and to accept an ultimate truth. I felt that in order to become a good person I needed rules–lots of them–or else I would somehow fall apart. I am reclaiming myself. Trusting my goodness and my divine mission.”
Born Matthew Paul Miller, the 32-year-old rapper and former acid-dropping Phish-head who found religion at age 19 released his debut album, Shake Off the Dust … Arise in 2004. He followed up with the 2006’s Youth and 2009’s Light, interspersed with three live albums along the way. His live shows have long mixed the thudding bass-heavy sound of dub reggae with rapping as well as touches of punk.
In the note he promised that the next year will be filled with “music of rebirth.” And if you’re stressed about his naked face, “don’t worry…you haven’t seen the last of my facial hair.”
Some fans were clearly confused by the move, asking the singer why he would make such a radical turn. On Twitter, Matisyahu comforted them and promised that he is still attending prayer services at his synagogue, further proving his belief by posting a series of inspirational quotes from Psalms.