Some things in pop music just go together hand-in-hand: Lil Jon and his pimp goblet, Nicki Minaj and her neon wigs, and, until recently, Matisyahu and his long, religiously significant beard. But on Tuesday morning (Dec. 13), the socially conscious Jewish rapper posted a clean-shaven photo of himself on Twitter, and soon followed with a blog post on his official website that proclaimed, "No more Chassidic reggae superstar."
In the post, the 32-year-old rapper vaguely discusses his struggle to balance his individuality with organized religion.
"Sorry folks, all you get is me…no alias," he writes. "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."
He continues, "Get ready for an amazing year filled with music of rebirth. And for those concerned with my naked face, don't worry…you haven't seen the last of my facial hair."
Hours after posting the message to his blog, Matisyahu clarified to his 1.3 million Twitter followers that he was not forsaking the Jewish faith: "For all of those who are being awesome, you are awesome. For all those who are confused: today I went to the Mikva and Shul just like yesterday."
The Pennsylvania-bred artist's reggae-tinged hip-hop burst onto the scene in 2005 with the concert album "Live at Stubb's," which featured the single "King Without a Crown" and was followed by a proper studio effort, 2006's "Youth." Matisyahu's most recent effort, 2009's "Light," has sold 146,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
A rep for Matisyahu was unavailable for comment at press time. In July, Matisyahu told Billboard.com that he was prepping two new albums: the first, "Akedah: Teaching to Love," is based on the Biblical story of the binding of Isaac by his father, Abraham, for sacrifice to God, and the second a more hip-hop oriented set with Dr. Luke protege Kool Kojak.