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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    SOJA brings reggae to the Rialto


    ATO Records

    The members of reggae band, SOJA, from left to right: Bobby Lee, Trevor Young, Hellman Escorcia, Jacob Hemphill, Patrick O’Shea, Rafael Rodriguez, Ken Brownell and Ryan Berty. SOJA will play at The Rialto Theatre on Nov. 3, bringing with them a different kind of reggae sound.

    Although reggae has become larger, the genre is still largely pigeonholed to the image of Bob Marley. In a lot of ways, Bob Marley is more well known than the reggae genre itself. 

    The style has so much potential, but reggae artists hardly ever voyage beyond the now-typical sound. However, this isn’t true for all. One reggae band in particular that has risen above this stereotypical sound is SOJA. 

    Formed in 1997, SOJA has become one of the most popular modern-day reggae bands, which is not only open to different stylistic influences, but also has an incredibly positive message behind all of its songs. The eight-man band has grown tremendously, from a group of friends jamming into a pristine band touring the world. 

    Although it obviously qualifies as a reggae band, SOJA tends to push the barrier a bit in terms of musicality and purpose. As a generally laid-back band, SOJA is able to generate a lot of energy with its groovy tracks and emotionally-charged lyrics. 

    “I want to speak for people who don’t have microphones,” wrote lead singer and songwriter Jacob Hemphill on the band’s webpage. 

    There is a very strong presence of humanity and justice in all of the band’s songs. Its music often gives listeners the sense that change for the better is coming, and that everything will be OK.

    SOJA often features other artists of different genres that make its songs more edgy and full. Some artists that SOJA brought into its newest album, Amid the Noise and Haste, include Michael Franti, Nahko, Collie Buddz, J Boog, Anuhea and Bob Marley’s son, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley. 

    “We wanted to bring together people who would help demonstrate each song,” Jacob wrote. “We wanted people who could either relate to or convey the message. The whole album is about the human race relating to itself and connecting with itself.”

    SOJA started this tour in California and is playing across the States and will even go as far as Argentina, Chile and other places in South America. 

    As a burgeoning band, SOJA should be seen now while tickets are still affordable and the band is readily accessible. Even if reggae isn’t your favorite music, I would still recommend seeing SOJA. The experience is about so much more than the music.

    SOJA will be playing at the The Rialto Theatre on Nov. 3. Tickets and other information about the band can be found on its site,

    Follow Thea Van Gorp on Twitter.

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