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.
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 “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.
(New York, New York) On March 1, DJ/Producer J.PERIOD is proud to present the next chapter in the historic saga of “Ohio”: “SOLDIERS,” the epic new single from Hip Hop’s pre-eminent freedom fighters Dead Prez and rising stars Sa-Roc& Maimouna Youssef. Sampling elements of The Isley Brothers’ “Ohio” over a hard-hitting track produced by J.PERIOD, “SOLDIERS” reframes the narrative again for a new generation—the generation of Ferguson, Flint, Oakland, New Orleans, Sanford, and Charlottesville.
Artist Quotes for “SOLDIERS”:
“Hip Hop is a powerful art form. It bridges gaps across time and space, culture and color. Sampling “Ohio” for “SOLDIERS” brought the spirit of the original into the present. We need anthems right now, to give us resilience to face what’s out in the world. SOLDIERS builds on three generations of protest music—Neil Young, The Isley Brothers, and dead prez—to create a new anthem for a new Movement. Only Hip Hop can bring so many forces together in that way.”
Stic (Dead Prez)
“Soon as I heard how J had reimagined and freaked that classic Isley Brother’s “Ohio” sample it just invoked that soldier spirit in me, I felt the calisthenic cadence of the drums and I wrote my verse inspired by the urgency of what it means to be on the frontlines for what you believe living and fighting with purpose. It’s a battle song for all the long overdue uprisings going on in today’s world.”
“‘Soldiers’ is so timely; especially at a moment in history where there’s an attempt to extinguish radical thought, protest, and critical dialogue. It’s a melodic yet rousing call to activism, a salute to warriors long gone and those that have yet to come.”
M-1 (Dead Prez)
“Kent State, late sixties…ruled but hate, this ain’t no Malcolm vs. Martin debate, who can relate…??” I wrote Soldiers thinking about the pain of the past and how to prevent it from being felt by future generations. It’s time to turn tragedy into triumph…that’s what this sounds like.”