“Why are you so fascinated by Soul Jah Love?”
That's a question I've been asked countless times when people hear me play his music. And whilst I've always tried to explain why I liked him so much I never did so fully because the question was never sincere.
Most people who didn't like Soul Jah Love's music had made their minds up that there was nothing to learn from his drug-fuelled discography. Personally (& perhaps to many other people) however, Soul Jah Love represented 2 things that I will finally try to explain...
Soul Jah Love taught me empathy. The stories expressed in his music were a window for me to experience the life of people who were far less fortunate than I am.
Singing about broken homes were children are forced to deal with the hardships of being orphaned, forced into prostitution because of poverty and dependency on drugs, Soul Jah Love showed me that there's more to people who society often writes-off as misfits, outcasts or rejects. Whilst it never sounded heavy because of his entertaining delivery, I'm sure we can all relate to the messages and themes discussed in Soul Jah Love's music - hardships, dealing with loss, and betrayal.
More often than not people are more complicated & capable than we give them credit for and as a 16-year-old (my age when I started listening to him) - I got to understand these complexities through Jah Love's music.
Beyond giving fans a window into his troubled life, the most important lesson I learnt from Soul Jah Love was simple. Regardless of how terrible your story has been you can always win through perseverance.
Soul Jah Love's mother passed away when he was a toddler and he went on to live with his grandmother. She too passed away and a few years later so did his father. This rendered him homeless as he was subsequently kicked out by his step-mother.
He was also diagnosed with sugar diabetes at age 7 and it would have been easy for someone presented with such cards to give up on life but he didn't.
Reportedly, at one point Soul Jah Love was led to believe he had fathered a child and took care of the mother and child "for a long time" before learning that the child was not his.
Those of us who followed him will also remember the car accident of 2016 which could have resulted in his death but again he bounced back.
This same guy took himself from being orphaned, homeless, in ailing health, & betrayed to become one of the biggest acts in Zimbabwean music through hard work, dedication and an uncanny sense of humour.
Many will use his story as a caution of what happens when you take drugs and good on them. There's something to be learnt there.
For myself, Soul Jah Love's story was one of constantly being written-off and having your back against the wall but bouncing back. I choose to use his story as an inspiration of how one can take themselves from nothing and become a legend, a real hero of the people. The man who spoke for those who didn't have a voice.
That ladies and gentleman is why I am so fascinated by Soul Jah Love. R.I.P