Rock

Exclusive: How Matisyahu Beat a $50K Warrant to Bring Viral Street Performer to Hollywood

Matisyahu performs in 2015
Rick Kern/WireImage

Matisyahu performs at Stubb's on March 6, 2015 in Austin, Texas. 

Last week, Matisyahu crafted a touching viral moment by singing “One Day” with a busker in a Maui coffee shop. At the time, Clint “Kekoa” Alama didn’t know he was performing a Matisyahu song alongside the real Matisyahu. He certainly does now, as the reggae-rap musician arranged to forego a $50,000 warrant to have him join his band at its Hollywood Palladium concert Friday night (Aug. 12).

Stu Brooks, Matisyahu’s bass player, producer and musical director -- already a jack of all trades -- has been the one orchestrating Kekoa’s “supervised release” from a Hawaii jail. “Late night Sunday, Kekoa texted me saying, ‘Hey in custody need to go to court ASAP if possible,’” Brooks tells Billboard. “At that point I felt the weight of the situation and sort of wondered, What exactly have I gotten myself involved in?”

After their chance encounter (Matisyahu was in Maui for the annual MayJah RayJah Music Festival) Kekoa and Matis’ camp first discussed a follow-up performance via a Facebook Live chat, where the 27-year old busker revealed his legal complications. He’d turned himself in earlier this week and was being held on a probation violation after convictions for assault and other charges. But country prosecutor John D. Kim was willing to grant him a concession. 

Matisyahu Talks Viral Coffee Shop Duet: 'I Didn't Want to Mess Up His Game'

The morning after Kekoa’s dire text, all the pieces came together. A judge ordered the bail be “set aside” so Kekoa could get the “temporary release” necessary to play the L.A. gig. The judge ordered that the "bail be set aside” and the defendant be granted  "temporary release” to perform with Matisyahu at the Palladium on Friday.

“We aim to have him sit in with us to do ‘One Day’ and introduce him to a sold out crowd in Hollywood,” Brooks says. Authorities will oversee an Aug. 11 flight out of Maui and a return trip the day after the concert, where Matisyahu is opening for 311.

“It was easy to see that this was a nice young man, simply playing music to help spread a positive message and to help buy his next meal,” Brooks says. “I could see kindness in his eyes. I think this is a chance to change someone's life.”

In other news, today Matisyahu released a new track called “Love Born,” produced, mixed and co-written by Brooks.