Those who remember the group know that Souljahz should've been big. The trio splashed onto the Christian music scene with buzz and a bang, landing a record deal with Word/Warner, sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in pop, and filling a huge void for urban music in the faith-based arena. Siblings Joshu'a Washington, Je'kob Washington and Rachael Washington had the looks, label push, sound, and songs to launch their national debut, The Fault Is History, over the edge. Instead, label battles crushed Souljahz's momentum and robbed the Washington's of the the name Souljahz.
Reemerging five years later using the name The Washington Projects, brother/sister duo Jekob Washingtion and Rachael Washington merge insightful hip-hop, scintillating soul, rippling R&B, old school funk and pure bred pop. It’s an astonishingly inventive merger that’s given them instant accessibility steeped in street credibility, while breaking down boundaries more than any other eclectic troupe in recent memory. All of this serves to drive their openly Christian lyrics and their insightful looks into the challenges of living dya to day as a believer.
Before Word/Warner destroyed Souljahz, the troupe performed alongside the lauded (and diverse) likes of No Doubt, Nelly, Counting Crows, Ja Rule, Ashanti, Garbage, Boyz II Men and Erykah Badu (to name a few) on a cross country tour in support of its major label debut The Fault Is History. That project also set a streak of precedents, making SoulJahz the first new hip-hop/funk/soul act in history to write, produce, executive produce and co-engineer a major label album, not to mention group member Rachael Washington becoming the youngest composer/producer/songwriter in the history of Warner Brothers Records (she was 17, beating out Prince at 19).
Five Dove Award nominations followed, (including 2003 prizes for "Urban Album of the Year" and "Rap/Hip-Hop/Dance Recorded Song of the Year"), along with extensive features on CNN Headline News, E!, Billboard, The WB, plus a slot on Sessions@AOL beside Christina Aguilera, 50 Cent, Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Red Hot Chili Peppers. But even with the tremendous amount of buzz and overwhelming fanfare, record label red tape soon wrapped itself around Souljahz, putting an extreme delay on what would've been its sophomore CD.
“Basically we were about to begin our new record after being gone on tour for at least a year and a half on that first record, but the entire staff of our label flipped upside down,” Jekob Washington recalls of the incredibly trying time. “When it came time to talk with the new cats, they had a different thought process on where our sound needed to go and there ended up being a lot of problems. We basically had our second record shelved entirely and spent the next several years trying to get out of our contract.”
Despite the lack of a new CD, Souljahz took trips to Iraq in 2005 and 2006 to entertain troops, though back home in America, their lawyers and a constantly switching staff of label executives were waging war of their own. Eventually the group was allowed to exit its deal, but at the expense of leaving the SoulJahz moniker in the label’s hands.
“As all of this went down, we literally retreated to Hawaii for a time because we have family out there, which were the bonds that helped keep us going,” Jekob Washington contends. “But it actually all turned out to be a very good thing because we recharged our batteries and the break helped give us a fresh perspective and new start. SoulJahz has a certain amount of recognition as a brand, but The Washington Projects is a name that’s even closer to our hearts because no one can ever take that one away from us!”
With the battle flames dying down, The Washington Projects hit the studio for its debut Commanders of the Resistance, an enthralling soundtrack of hope covering just as many relevant themes as it does sonic spectrums. The album had rave reviews not to mention both singles they filmed videos for took the 1 spots for 2 straight weeks on GMC, one of the biggest inspirational video channels in the world.
After touring extensively both in the states and abroad, with groups ranging from The Nappy Roots & Relient K, to Third Day & tobyMac , The Washington Projects are set to release their debut effort, Light Up The Dark in late 2010.
Listen to The Washington Projects
|Commanders of the Resistance||2008||Black & White Label|
|Christmas||2008||Black & White Label|
|Light Up The Dark||2010||Black & White Label|
|Space Time Continuum||2012||Save The City Records|