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,...
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