Please explain what just happened.

I botched it and forgot about the catering at House of Blues.  I ate already.


What is your earliest memory?

My dad’s stereo.  It was white and I thought that was cool.  It was always playing Paul Simon.


If you were not a musician, what other profession would you choose?

Someone once told me that if I could imagine myself doing anything other than music, anything, do it. Music is hard, you travel away from your family, your loved ones, you’ll be  broke, you won’t sleep, etc.  I thought about it, and I couldn’t think of anything else.



Please describe the current contents of your refrigerator.

I haven’t been home in two months so I have no idea.  On the bus, there’s food for eight people, so once again, no idea.  I saw something like seven mustards, though.


What verb best describes you?



What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?

Keep doing it even though you’re getting in trouble and fucking up in school.  They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.



What are the steps you take to regain your composure?

I have to stop writing, thinking, and especially listening to the chatter going on around me.  Turn the phone off.  It gets to me.  I eventually calm down.


Define “success.”

The opposite of “suckmore”.


From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?

Bob Marley, Sade, Paul Simon, and my dad.


What change do you want to be in the world?

To make people look at the world less like a square and more like a circle.



Are you pro or anti-emoticon?  Please explain.

Anti.  I am also anti-exclamation mark in texts.  Grow up.


How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?

That’s a stupid game.  Anyone who watches that many movies should either be a writer, director, or an actor.


What makes you feel most guilty?

When I see that I have so much while most of the world has so very little.


Please list three things you never leave home without.

My phone, my house key, hopefully, and a lighter.


What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

Smoking cigarettes is cool.


What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?

Maybe see question number ten [What change do you want to be in the world]?  That’s pretty good I think.



What do you consider the harshest kind of betrayal?

The kind that chick did in Jarhead.  God, that was awful.  Made my skin crawl. I guess betraying a friend to get ahead.  That’s pretty bad.


Of all the game shows that have graced our TV screens throughout history, which one would you want to be a contestant on and why?

We’ve been watching a lot of Family Feud on the bus lately, but I’d have to say Double Dare.  The only reason I say Double Dare is because You Can’t Do That On Television wasn’t a game show.


What do you want to know?

If I come back with any memories of what I’ve learned, or if I have to figure everything out again.



What would you like your last words to be?

I’m about to go rock this show.


Please explain what will happen.

Now?  I’m about to go rock this show.

TAGS: , , ,

A native of Washington D.C., JACOB HEMPHILL is a lead singer and guitarist for SOJA, a band at the forefront of the modern reggae movement. Its music tells the traditional roots story, but from a uniquely American perspective.

SOJA recently released its third full-length album, “Born in Babylon,” on DMV Records. It debuted at #1 on the iTunes reggae charts and remains in the top 10 today. In addition, the album reached #3 on the Billboard Reggae Charts, #11 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums, and #31 on all of Billboard.

“Born in Babylon” touches many of the common themes that reggae artists have been singing about for decades, but does so from SOJA's flip perspective: that of kids who grew up not in poverty, but in a government saturated community in Arlington, Virginia, across the Mason-Dixon Line from the White House.

“This is the album we’ve been wanting to make for ten years," says Hemphill. "At first we were hard-core old school, then we got new school and inventive. This is what we’ve learned from all that. ’Born in Babylon’ is hard roots drum and bass, big wide guitar and vocal melodies, and two- and three-sided lyrics, with two- and three-sided messages."

Joining Hemphill on vocals is bassist Bob Jefferson. The two met in first grade in Virginia, shortly after Jacob had returned from living in Africa with his family. They became instant best friends, and in middle school found a common love for hip hop and rock music. Soon after, they met Patrick O’Shea (keyboards), Ryan Berty (drums), and Ken Brownell (percussion) –- all of whom would later become members of SOJA.

The band's first recording, “Soldiers of Jah Army EP,” was released at the beginning of 2000. Then, in 2002, SOJA released its first full-length album, “Peace in a Time of War." In 2006, the band released “Get Wiser,” their second full-length album, a creative breakthrough which debuted in the Top Ten Reggae Albums on iTunes.

In early 2009, the band released the documentary DVD "SOJA Live in Hawaii: A Marc Carlini Film." It showcases the power and energy of their 2008 Hawaiian tour, which included four islands, five cameras, four shows, and everything in between.

To learn more, please visit www.sojamusic.com.

26 responses to “21 Questions with 
Jacob Hemphill of SOJA”

  1. Great to see (and read) you guys over here. Look forward to catching you live on the next leg of your tour! I’ve been warned that it’s a brilliant show. I’ll come prepared for fun!

  2. pj Dionisio says:

    Soo real. So Real. SoJA most def. ROCKED the show.

  3. Too bad he can not be with you Brazil is very far thanks galera SOJA !!!

  4. devon.barker says:

    Hey Jacob and Bobby Lee it was great getting to chill with you guys outside the FOX when you were in boulder last. I know you guys didn’t get to hangout in boulder much longer than just the show, so when you guys return maybe shoot me an email.

  5. Rob Bloom says:

    Great interview. Welcome to TNB.

  6. Simon Smithson says:

    Very, very cool. Glad to have you with us, hope you rocked the show.

  7. RWaller says:

    Love at first listen, not sure if SOJA will read this but I only was turned on to the band a month ago, shocked at what I’m hearing. Prepare to be, like it or not, incredibly famous and rich. Dare I say mainstream, whatever, I don’t care. Just hoping a lot of money goes where your music does.

  8. BieOh says:

    So glad I was there to see them in Blacksburg! They are always so live and I love the messages they carry in their sweet tunes. Much love to SOJA! ( I’m keeping my exclamations… To show my extreme emotions) Have an awesome time in Berlin! So much to see but I recommend The Jewish Museum, Holocaust Memorial, the 17th century Cathedral downtown, Parliament, and the DZ Bank. Hope you enjoy and thanks for doing what you do so well.

  9. jennifer says:

    jacob, will you marry me?

  10. Sabrina says:

    damn , thats prahlee my favorite interview that i’ve ever read .

  11. matt says:

    betraying the trust of a true friend is the last thing youll ever do that matters

  12. Gloria Harrison says:

    “Double Dare” was a great show!

    Fun interview.

  13. jill w says:

    great interview. i would be so nervous to meet jacob in person. but thank u for letting me see a piece of him..and thanks to Jacob for sharing.

  14. kinsley says:

    this group so great tommorow people would say what u say bob change so lot of thing in our life me i can say soja change so lot of thing in my life big up plzzz cme to my country or else will cme to summerjah one day hope u will be there

  15. William Hemphill says:


    “Go placidly amidst the noise and haste.”


    • Brittany Mathen says:

      I think it is so awesome that this is from 2010 and the new album is “Amid the Noise and Haste”.

      Warms my heart.

    • Brittany Mathena says:

      I think it is so awesome that this is from 2010 and the new album is “Amid the Noise and Haste”.

      Warms my heart.

  16. […] by collaborating with artists that I look up to.  For example on our last album Not as Far I asked Jacob Hemphill (SOJA) to write and record a verse for the song “I Believe.”  I’ve been a SOJA fan for […]

  17. Sthefany says:

    Mano, esse cara é demais; Ele é preciso em suas respostas.. Completamente perfeito.
    Sinto orgulho de o ter como idolo.

  18. Arianna Taboada says:

    Dude, I’m in love with this band. Songs are carrying Such a great message! Jah bless!

  19. lilabliss misech says:

    Your messages are pure and true. Your a big inspiration to our small Island of Palau. We would love for you to come back and just give a little reminder to our youth that voilence is not an answer. Thank You SOJA

  20. Pears says:

    please visit the Philippines soon

  21. Lauren says:

    U guys are beyond amazing and jAcob I love u

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