Even though his new album, "Akeda," is titled from the Hebrew word for binding, Matisyahu feels anything but these days.
After stepping away from his traditional Hassidic garb, changing his hair color and style and expanding his musical reach on 2012's "Spark Seeker," the singer and rapper says that "I think this period of my life has really been about letting go of everything, all the things I had set up from my image to certain relationships to making the kind of music that's expected of you.
""I spent some time exploring the boundaries and the rules and a lot of the rigidness, in religion and in music," continues Matisyahu, 35, who was born Matthew Paul Miller and raised in White Plans, N.Y. before starting his music career in 2000. "I think in letting go now I've found these ideas and things I had studied and spent so much time with have come alive in more of an emotional way, inside of me. I really just kind of, for better or for worse, explored this time around."
"Akeda" does address the changes Matisyahu made in life and music, as well as the backlash to those. The album, which came out in June, reached No. 36 on the Billboard 200, though it was Top 5 on the Rap Albums chart, but he says that was not entirely unexpected.
"Certainly some sacrifices have been made in order to do what I love with the music," Matisyahu notes. "There's still people who will come to my shows and say to me, 'Man, I miss the beard.' Just the image that was tied to me, a lot of people don't want to let go of that.
"And I think a lot of people have not understood me in terms of the music I've made, but I've always made an eclectic mix of music. Every record has sounded so different than the last one, it's always taken people by surprise, and surprising people is part of what being an artist is about."
Matisyahu and Radical Something
Sunday, Sept. 28. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit.
Tickets are $35.
Call 313-961-6358 or visit www.saintandrewsdetroit.com
Send your thoughts and comments to