Music and language was created as a means to pass down stories and lessons. This takes on an even deeper meaning when the same song is recreated generation after generation. As each generation interprets and adapts, so do the songs, yet the essence remains unchanged.
JuJu Rogers, created his own beautiful rendition of Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier.” The track, off of JuJu’s upcoming EP “Buffalo Soldier Tapes,” conveys an effortless unity of genres with soul, funk, r&b and of course reggae, merging into one. This unity and theme of intersectionality plays a role throughout the EP and JuJu’s career. As a Black artist raised on a US military base in Germany, JuJu Rogers utilizes music to convey and connect with his personal narrative, spanning the countless notes that make up his identity. The track is unlike you’ve ever heard it before, yet, it has many parallels with Marley’s original.
Check out the live rendition of the new track, as well as our meaningful conversation with JuJu, below.
On February 25, you released your adaptation of Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier.” Tell us about the significance of releasing this track in February.
To be honest and perfectly fair, when I wrote the track and recorded it, we didn’t really know when we would release it, so this beautiful and so-called coincidence… it just makes perfect sense, you know? It’s aligned with the energy, it’s only right. Aside from the fact that Bob Marley’s birthday is in this month, the West, including Germany, Europe, and the U.S., celebrate Black history month in February. It’s a good time for me to address certain things, also maybe criticisms and whatnot, but it made perfect sense and it’s only right. The energies are going the right way.
Tell us more about the “Buffalo Soldier Tape” project as a whole.
I feel like the “Buffalo Soldier Tape” as a whole just represents who I am. It represents my background. It represents my history. It represents all the different places I feel like I’m connected to. Whether it’s New Orleans, the African continent, Europe or the Caribbean, it’s all a connected, unifying narrative that I would like to tell, to add my perspective and add to the Pan-African discussion as a whole.
Your music blends a variety of genres; from Hip-Hop to Rap, Reggae to Jazz. What does your writing process look like? Do you start with lyrics or music?
My writing process… I’ve asked myself many times, do I even have one? I feel like my writing process is just life, living life. Most of the time it’s just thoughts, or things that happen to me, or things that I see, that I experience that just capture me and my entire soul so much that I want to talk about it, and then things come out. I don’t really sit down and think of subjects and then create a song out of it. It doesn’t really happen. I let life take the lead, you know, and whatever happens along that path, most of the time I just go with it. I feel like my upbringing had a big, big influence on how I create music today – that’s where all the different genres come in.
With a background spanning New Orlean/American culture as well as Austrian, while being raised in Germany; how has your upbringing played a role in your identity? How has your background played a role in your career?
I feel like the question on identity and how I create music today, is a very complicated question, because understanding and the knowledge of self always played a big role, at least in my career and in who I think I am. And at the same time, I don’t think that that so-called “diversity” is apparent in my life. It’s not like when I walk around in Germany, that people say, “okay, his background is so diverse”… no, I’m still a Black man, and I also deal with problems that come along with that. Especially in Western societies, and that’s what I talk about.
Bob Marley of course is known not only for his music but for his activism and uplifting spirit. What aspects of his message do you think we could learn from today?
First and foremost, I think that Bob Marley was an individual and an artist and a person who had a clear understanding of things. It’s not only activism, but it’s a clear ideology, a very clear position towards the things that were going on during that time. And I feel like we’re living in a time where there’s a big lack of position when it comes to art. Many artists don’t really have a position, don’t really have an ideology, don’t really have a clear vision of how they would want to live on this planet. And I think that’s something we could definitely take from Bob Marley, to have a clear vision, to stand up, to speak out. And have goals when it comes down to living with each other in society and on this planet.
Where/when do you find yourself most at peace?
I never find myself fully at peace, at least yet, I think I have many things to unlearn, re-learn, and do. But most of the time, it’s when I’m close to nature or by myself, not surrounded by many people or too much going on. I just love the calm and love to spend some time with myself. That’s probably my closest to being at peace.
Growing up surrounded by soldiers, how do you think your experience has influenced your current ideology?
I grew up in a military household, and I guess that has a certain culture with it as well. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but one of the most significant lessons that I learned from growing up with US soldiers and especially the US Army, was seeing, recognizing, and understanding who these soldiers actually are. While some war-mongers are out there talking about “America”… It’s really people of color and poor people out on the front line. I was never really interested in the military, but all the things that surrounded it, the cultures and the people, that’s what I connect with.