You might have trouble recognizing the Matisyahu who will be performing Saturday at Mizner Park Amphitheater.
The New Yorker born as Matthew Miller shot to fame with his reggae/rap/rock hybrid "King Without a Crown." The song cracked the Top 40 in 2005 and transformed Matisyahu into an unlikely celebrity as the Hasidic star who could kick a rhyme while donning a beard, sidelocks, and yarmulke.
The 2014 model looks completely different. He cut his hair, shaved his beard, and removed the religious garb. In an interview with Miami New Times earlier this year, he expressed frustration about the rejection he faced for changing his beliefs. "It can be painful when you put yourself out there and open up your heart and people don't get it. Or worse, they put out a lot of judgment. It's difficult when people think I betrayed the Jewish people or fell off the boat."
His new record, Akeda, which came out in June, documents his ever-evolving spiritual journey in a variety of musical genres. "Watch the Walls Melt Down" has an upbeat hip-hop vibe, and "Confidence" carries the reggae torch with which he found his fame.
The standout tune, though, might be "Reservoir," a lonely piano ballad that has more in common with the Britpop of Jarvis Cocker than the Rasta vibrations of Jamaica. The song's biblical references and inclusion of a Hebrew prayer show a real sense of hurt. Through it, Matisyahu responds to critics. "The song expresses how I feel more than any sentence I could give you about it," he says. "My relationship with God is very deep and complex and emotional. I try to express that in the songs, that things aren't so clear-cut or black and white."
Matisyahu. Built to Survive Tour. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 8, at Mizner Park Amphitheater, 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Tickets cost $35 plus fees. Call 561-362-0606, or visit ticketmaster.com.