dead prez Lead The Charge On A Song About Soldiering Through Hard Times

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On March 15, California-born, Brooklyn, New York-based DJ/producer J. Period is set to release his LP, The RISE UP Project, co-executive produced by Young Guru, DJ Khalil, Jazzy Jeff along with J. Black Thought, Posdnuos, Pharoahe Monch, and Rhymefest are among the upcoming project’s guests. In anticipation, the artist who works closely with Black Thought has unveiled the record’s first official single, “SOLDIERS,” featuring dead prez, Sa-Roc, and Maimouna Youssef.

“SOLDIERS” is both a powerful and emotional track chocked full of historical significance and immediate relevance in modern America today. The song’s production, which captures a sample from The Isley Brothers’ gripping rendition of the Neil Young-penned “Ohio,” is a key piece in a larger puzzle that audibly maps the systems of oppression facing many in this country.

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J. Period reveals the history, gravity, and motive behind the empowering single. “In the Spring of 1970, armed National Guardsmen fired on Vietnam protesters at Kent State in Ohio, killing four students. The event reverberated across the country, spurring Neil Young to pen “Ohio” for Crosby, Stills & Nash, a Folk anthem The Guardian calls ‘the greatest protest record” in American history.'”

The Truelements Music founder’s statement continues, “Days later—forgotten in the shadow of Kent State—police killed two Black students at a similar protest at Jackson State in Mississippi. The incident echoed a growing racial divide, and rising tensions between police and inner city youth across the country. Fusing ‘Ohio’ with Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Machine Gun,’ The Isley Brothers re-framed the narrative of the song around urban unrest, bridging the cultural gap between two songs (and their fans) as a deliberate statement. Music was one of the few forces that could bridge the racial divide and bring people together—cultural connective tissue for a divided world.”

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In the midst of an America that can often appear divided, J. Period curates a record to uplift the masses during these trying times. He looks to bridge the gap between the past and the present. “SOLDIERS” not only becomes the anthem for the trials and tribulations of today, but simultaneously becomes “the next chapter in the dynamic saga of “Ohio.”” This time, it’s MCs who bring the message home.

stic. man opens, carrying J. Period’s torch through the crowd. “I stay training never know when the drama coming / Like a soldier up early in the morning running / PT, stay sharp on my calisthenics / No weed smoke, clean mind, and a clear spirit / Offer peace, but I keep piece close near me / It’s real life homie, not a conspiracy theory / Shots fired, police getting away with it / Even when the camera dead on, so you know they did it / It’s not war ’til we fight back, it’s just slaughter / Time to lace up the boots and walk like warriors / In our homes and our streets and our neighborhoods / Can’t wait til Marines in your neighborhood / We need a people’s army on deck across cultures / Guerilla soldiers calling all levels, all focus / Pick your target and your battles, we don’t need martyrs / We need a squad of the bravest and the hardest.”

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Later, M-1 joins, and spits a rallying call of his own. “Got the blood of freedom fighters flowing deep in my carotid / IG’s so I’m camouflaging how I grieve my / Heart beating a mile a minute on my sleeve, uh / Drop in between anger and anguish like wild creatures / Daddy told me, ‘Either you fight or you’ll die speechless’ / That’s why I bring the spirit of Ali through my speakers.”

Sa-Roc, who released several incredible video singles the last year with Rhymesayers Entertainment, follows with a fist-pumping verse. Maimouna Youssef’s soaring vocal closes out this evocative song.

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Find J. Period’s “SOLDIERS” featured on his upcoming album, The RISE UP Project, dropping March 15. According to J, the release is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.