Jewish rap-reggae star Matisyahu moved out of his New York apartment after abandoning his Hasidic faith because he couldn't face his disapproving neighbours.

The King Without a Crown rapper, who was previously known for his long hair, bushy beard, and traditional Jewish attire, entered a new phase of his life last year (11) and distanced himself from the religion's strict practices.

He tells, "I began to realise that there were a lot of things within that lifestyle that were actually holding me back, that were sort of weighing heavy down on me and keeping me from tasting a certain freedom of expression.

"In Judaism there are a lot of rules - everything from which fingernail you cut first to which side you sleep on in bed, to the way you get dressed in the morning, to actual ideas, like ideas about being chosen people or ideas about female/male and how to interact with people from the opposite sex.

"All those things that I tried to mould myself into never really jibed... and once I let go of that... I began to taste this freedom in my life that I had been missing."

During that time, the 33 year old, real name Matthew Miller, had been living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a neighbourhood with a large Hasidic population, but, after making the lifestyle change, he moved away to avoid those critical of his rebirth.

He explains, "I didn't want to confront the people over there. I think that most Hasidic people that I know, that I am actually friends with or that are acquaintances, all say that they think I seem like a happier person now than I was then, and they respect my decision.

"There were times, late at night or whatever, where I would go online... (and read what people were saying about me), but it always came back to bite me in the a** because you read those comments that are just mean and it hurts."