Written By: Justin Rands
Label: CMV Records – Rating:
Social and political awareness. Humanity. Love. I and I. The constant search for the answers to our daily struggles through Jah and the Rastafari movement. Waking up to the injustices of our present world. And, one of the biggest questions: Is Haile Selassie, founder of Rastafari, really the reincarnation of Jesus Christ? (‘Heh’).
SOJA, otherwise known as Soldiers of Jah Army, touch upon all these subjects with their latest release, “Born in Babylon”. They are a traditional reggae style band hailing from Washington D.C. that might be the head contender and front-runner of the ‘new movement’ of reggae and social awareness.
Reggae’s been around since the late 60’s and has been bubbling around underneath the surface of what’s deemed ‘new’ or ‘mainstream’ up until now. I know what most of you are thinking. You’re seeing the word ‘bubbling’ and think I’m making a pot reference. But I’m not…cough… I’m not doing that at all. I’m just giving a little back history here. Seems like the only reggae people listen to nowadays IS under the influence of pot on a ratty couch at one of their friend’s houses underneath a ripped Bob Marley poster.
All joking aside, these guys sure do know their history. Founded way back in first grade, Jacob Hemphill (vocals, guitar) and Bob Jefferson (bass) have now successfully gotten three albums under their belt. First was the “Peace in a Time of War”. Then they followed up with “Get Wiser”, which has remained on the top 100 Reggae Albums on
ITunes since. And now, their latest release, “Born in Babylon” has been released.
The uplifting third album comes at time when things aren’t that great in our country. Everything looms over our heads: Money, Bills, The Economy, the unemployed, if we stay or go from Iraq, health care, our Presidents approval. It can be a bit overwhelming. The album’s songs go into depth upon these subjects and the effect they have on us. The new album touches upon what all great Reggae artists have been expressing since the sixties, but SOJA is taking that history, the sounds from their previous albums, plus our countries present problems and pushing the limits on “Born in Babylon”.
After listening to this album, and hearing the news of the day, feeling the pressure of society wearing thin on my consciousness I can say that the music these men create have helped ease the pain a bit. A sense of oneness shines through their sound, and the feelings of hope they evoke make this album timeless.