The rush of noise swirling around the eight members of SOJA has never been louder. After more than a decade of steady climbing, the Virginia reggae crew released their guest-packed fifth album in August, then immediately flew off for a Hawaiian took a moment to catch their breath and launched a month-long tear through Europe. They’re in the middle of another year logging hundreds of shows and playing increasingly bigger venues to increasingly wider audiences. Their Facebook page has more than 3.5 million likes; they’ve sold nearly 300,000 records. By any measure, SOJA is one of the biggest reggae groups in the world.
The band’s dreadlocked American Rasta leader, Jacob Hemphill, sits in the eye of the storm, as calm and cool as ever. And he has a long-gone, German-American poet to thank.
Perched in his Virginia home, he begins to recite from memory: “‘Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on tour, good terms with all persons…’” he trails off. “That’s my favorite poem ever. It makes sense to me.” Continue reading