International reggae band SOJA just released a new video for their song “Shadow” through a partnership with UNICEF. The video is part of UNICEF’s Out-of-School Children initiative. The initiative’s main goal is “to reduce the number of children who are out of school around the world” according to the UNICEF website, with several different strategies such as understanding why children are excluded from schools with statistical methods and implementing policies that help address and prevent this exclusion.
I have been a long-time SOJA fan, in part because I love their reggae music, but mostly because I admire their lyrics. Since their first self-titled EP SOJA the band has been addressing themes that are not very common in popular music. They dare to drift apart from the emptiness that we are exposed to through pop-culture to denounce different topics like corruption in governments as well as social inequality, and at the same time deliver music with deep thoughts about many different themes such as: friendship, true love, appreciation of life, conservation of nature, etc. Since 2010, with the release of the single “Everything Changes”, they have improved in creating lyrics that raise awareness for issues that can promote change through the average listener. SOJA persuades their fans to do whatever they can to create a better world, almost as if they are trying to implant all these positive ideas in the minds of the listeners.
With the release of this new video, SOJA has reached a new milestone in their career. Supporting a program like Out-of-School Children Initiative is a matter of great importance for both the initiative and the artists involved (to be honest, before viewing this video I didn’t even know that this campaign existed).
With this in mind, I arrive to the whole purpose of my first editorial. We’ve seen the power that music has with different issues, to quote a few: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert’s song “Same Love” became an anthem for the support of marriage equality, or even 2010’s song “We Are the World 25 for Haiti” that supported relief efforts for the horrific earthquake in Haiti made an impact. The power that popular artists possess is evident; the problem is that sometimes it is not fully exploited.
Macklemore’s song has more than 99 million plays on Spotify, while SOJA’s most listened song has eleven times fewer hits than that. This doesn’t mean that SOJA’s efforts will be less valuable than Macklemore’s. Instead I believe that more artists, no matter their popularity, should join the task of denouncing issues that are important to them or supporting causes to create fans that are more aware and educated. This kind of exposure to different causes could make a huge difference, making these types of campaigns far more useful because more people could be aware of their existence and could give their help in any way they can. Artists shouldn’t forget that for most of their fans they are idols, and if they help and/or support a cause it is very possible that their fans will help as well.