Religious Artifact Analysis

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The artifact that we intend to examine is the hit song “King Without a Crown” by the reggae music artist, Matisyahu. This music artist interests us because he is a popular performer who we have listened to voluntarily, with the particular song “King Without a Crown” ranking in the top 40 songs in America at one point in his career. Additionally, choosing a Matisyahu song is of interest to us as students at the University of Maryland because of Matisyahu’s live performance at UMD last year. Music is a particular form of rhetoric for artists to communicate ideas and inspire their listeners to adopt or understand belief systems. In the case of Matisyahu, the artist sings about his relationship to God and his religion, Judaism while making various references to religious and cultural aspects of his religion. As an Orthodox Jew, Matisyahu provides his audience with music specifically tied to religious belief. However, Matisyahu’s music may be universally enjoyed by people of any religion, as demonstrated by his various appearances on MTV during the time that his single, “King Without a Crown”, was popularly played on the radio and bought on iTunes. Matisyahu is known for being a Jewish figure in the music industry who is able to incorporate his religious passion to musical talent in a quite unique manner, through the production of reggae songs. Although music is a central part of the Jewish religion, especially in the practice of Orthodox Judaism, reggae music sung in English is an unconventional means of musical expression compared to other types of Jewish music, which include klezmer or traditional singing of psalms in Hebrew. At first glance, we noticed the symbols that Matisyahu uses in his song to represent different experiences in life. For example, Matisyahu incorporates a juxtaposition of darkness and light to demonstrate emotions and situations that are both positive (light) and negative (dark). Additionally, the artist uses much religious jargon, referring to God by the different names that Jewish people use to address a higher being. There is also an element of religion and/or God as a type of source that may protect and help people if they reach out and ask for such assistance, which is a fundamental Jewish belief. Matisyahu alludes to ideas of prayer, belief, and the Messiah, bringing important Jewish concepts to his song in an inspirational way of expressing his love for God. In studying this artifact, we will look at the lyrics of the song, “King Without a Crown” primarily to analyze the language that Matisyahu uses to communicate his ideas. Additionally, we will draw upon the images used in this particular song’s music video to complement the lyrics that we study. In order to have a complete understanding of our text, we will research the biography of Matisyahu, including a focus on recent events, such as the scandal that occurred within the religious Jewish community when he shaved off his beard in the fall. Finally, to understand all of the Jewish references that Matisyahu makes in his song, we will research specific Jewish concepts, beliefs, and approaches to religious topics, such as the waiting for the Messiah to come from a Jewish lens. Studying a Matisyahu song is worthwhile because this particular artist is one of the most visible and popular Jewish representatives and role models in the secular world of music production. It is important to note that Jewish people do not exclusively enjoy Matisyahu music. Rather, his songs have been popular throughout America, especially among reggae fans. Especially as Jews are a minority religion in nearly all countries in the world, Matisyahu is a positive representation of Judaism and the Jewish people to the world, working to deconstruct religious stereotypes and serve as an example for devout people of all religions to embrace both their passions and their religious beliefs.

Descriptive Analysis
Purpose- It's about the power of trusting G-d in everyday...
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