Soul Jah Love, the misunderstood legend

Soul "Soul Jah Love" Musaka

By Trevor Makonyonga

This past weekend on Sunday, I went with my young brother to get a haircut in the neighborhood. A certain man pulled over and he was playing Thomas Mapfumo’s music and only a handful of us was singing along to the music which led to an interesting discussing. My young brother was of the opinion that Soul Jah Love was probably in the level of the Zimbabwean greats and he maintained that people did not seem to realize this because they were not ready for the conversation.

After that discussion, it was clear that the late dancehall chanter had made an impact in the lives of many youths given the reason that most young people had said during our discussion. Fast forward, two days later the musician was pronounced dead. The first thing that came to my mind was this discussion that we had. I realized what an icon this young man was to the youths and beyond.

Real name Saul Musaka, Soul Jah love became loved purely for his distinctive art and explosive freestyling technique. When Zimdancehall started to gain popularity amongst the youths, it was like a genre that was never destined to produce any meaningful music as it was often associated with drugs and obscenity. Jah Love managed to bridge the gap between the youth and the old. Soul Jah Love in his blossoming days he unlished sing along hits songs that spoke of his personal life struggles, emotional love songs which resonated well with his legion of fans.

It was not aclear at that moment that he would have a whirlwind effect on the music scene by arguably redefining the Zimdancehall genre . His discography boasts of rich tunes filled with meaning and representative messages for the youth. Songs like Ndini uya uya, mwana wa Stemben, Pamamonya ipapo and Zvandasangana nemunhu waMwari will forever be imprinted on the hearts of many. His music was the soundtrack of the streets telling stories of poverty, drug use, love and self-esteem.

He often sang about not allowing people to belittle him since he was the best, a message which became generic in all Zimdancehall songs. He was a trend setter. Like any other successful artist, Soul Jah LoveHe had a number of international collaborations with artists like Jamaica’s Dwayno and Jahkal. There was a very slim distinction between Soul Musaka and Soul Jah Love as the latter always told stories about the former in music. He was obviously a person who suffered a lot and he always brought out his pain and life experiences into the public domain either through music or comical skits.

Jah Love was synonymous with controversy. Watching him on most of his interviews was like a movie character who lived in the real world struggling to make people understand him. Most folks chose to see the remoteness of his intelligence yet right in front of them was probably one of the richly gifted people the industry ever had. His ability to tell stories and to do so in satire, metaphor and comedy was very outstanding. He would get to a place and leave the people in stitches. Everybody loved his antics.

The unfortunate thing is that very few took him seriously. He had a divorce with fellow artist Bounty Lisa which he did not shy away from. He embraced it and publicly professed love for his ex-wife. He was probably the most misunderstood artist of the time. He developed a reputation of not showing up for shows. In an interview with Capetown based Rooftop productions, Jah Love said that he was on a path to change but some promoters and fans did not know what he went through.

Like any one else, he had his regrets too. He told Oscar Pambuka on Gaza Empire TV that he wished he had used money differently and that he could have gone back to change things if he had the power. He even advised other artists to control themselves. He was diabetic since the age of 7 and battled the disease which made him struggle to meet certain agreed commitments and appointments with promoters much to the disappointment and misunderstanding by many.

At one point he fell sick and went to Walter Magaya’s PHD Ministries to seek healing. He said that he got the healing and told DJ Chamvary on Power FM that he had suffered from something both spiritual and physical. He had an accident sometime last year and got out alive and was really thankful to the holy deity whom he claimed to believe in. In all his ills and goods, Soul Jah Love was a loved icon, a misunderstood great and probably suits to be mentioned among the greatest of all time.

Soul Musaka might be gone at 31 but Soul Jah Love live on. 

Rest in Peace Soul.

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