About two years ago I was searching online for information about Hasidic reggae rapper Matisyahu. This was before he had gained the popularity he has now and so there was less material available about him - so I was reading the posts on a reggae message board. Someone had posted something to the effect of: Shaka Buku is the future of reggae. You all should check this guy out, he’s great."
So, I clicked on the link, and was taken to the guy’s website. As soon as I saw it I started laughing. Now, I was quite high at the time, and I may have been overanalyzing things, but I was struck by the idea that the whole website and the whole persona of Shaka Buku was an elaborate joke, created by some extremely ambitious cynics trying to parody the most pathetic musical act ever.
Go to the website and look at the biography. There are a few things in it that are really kind of hilarious:
- He packed up and moved back to LA to begin a musical education by taking private guitar and voice lessons weekly. This was to be the most difficult time of his life so far, as LA was a far cry from the paradise he had left behind in Aspen and this new endeavor proved to be more of a challenge than anticipated. To suck at something like singing which he had virtually no clue how to do or playing guitar was mentally depressing his spirit. The mental stress then translated into a constant battle with physical illness in the form of colds and flues.*
When I saw this for the first time, I thought that this was a ridiculously lame attempt to try to make it seem like Shaka Buku has had a harder life and therefore give him more street cred (I mean, he grew up rich and popular, so they needed to generate sympathy. But colds and flues? Ooooohhh!)
This period of illness culminated in a three-day bout with vomiting and landed him in the hospital with the doctors unable to provide any explanation for his illness. He had hit rock bottom physically, mentally, and spiritually. This would provide the first opportunity to begin chipping away at his most fundamental negative tendency of arrogance which prevented the learning he so dearly needed in order to truly become happy and succeed in life.
I realize that even minor illnesses can be agonizing and take a toll on people, but “hitting rock bottom, physically, mentally, and spiritually” are words usually used to describe someone sleeping in an alley, huffing paint thinner, and prostituting themselves for money, or something extremely debasing and pathetic in the same vein. For someone as rich and privileged as Shaka Buku (Chad Nellis,) it just seemed so phony and lame to be talking about this stuff the way he is.
Then, scrolling down in the bio section, looking at the pictures on the left hand side, I see this. How can this guy be serious? Look at his other pictures, with the red Hawaiian shirt and the goofy hat, the painted faces, an incredibly goofy drawing, and everything else.
Then, go to the music jukebox and play the song “Sunday Sunday Monday.”
This song is absolutely ridiculous. With all of the soul-searching mumbo jumbo and the spiritualist meanderings and the proclaimed love of music, how could Shaka Buku produce such drivel and take himself seriously? My friend commented that it “sounds like quiz show music.” I think it’s even cheesier. “I’m feeling soooo…high-igh…from my constant meditation.” PLEASE! “The beat of the ghet-to?” Man oh man…then listen to “Home.” The intro sounds like a parody of Creed. “Angel Of My Desire,” arguably the best song, has a good groove until Shaka Buku begins singing, at which point it sucks hard.
So what is the verdict on this guy? Is he a hopelessly misguided middle-aged geek who really thinks he’s “empowering the youth” with his music? Or is this all a big joke?