Born Ollie Richardson, in the historic city of Savannah Georgia, Souljah Essōh is a man of many gifts and talents. Not only a recording artist, Essōh is also an Actor, Writer, and Minister (Assistant Pastor of Damascus Church; Lake City, Ga.). His love of music was cultivated at an early age. Being first exposed to the power of music within the walls of the church, it is easy to understand the reason his lyrics are filled with such passion, conviction, and soul. “I always knew there was something I had to do in life that involved music. I just felt It.” said Essoh in an interview with UCC Magazine.
At the age of 15, Essōh formed a Hip Hop group with childhood friends, which almost landed him a recording contract. Known mostly as a singer throughout high school, it was shocking to a lot of his peers and family members to discover his love for the Hip Hop art form. Shocking to all except one very special person; his grandmother, Evelyn Richardson. “Man, I can remember my grandma waking me up about 11 O’clock at night, telling me the Lord showed her in a dream, that I would be rapping, but about God. She even rapped a verse she heard in the dream!! **laughs** I still remember the verse today. I’ll never forget that.”
Although music had caused Essōh to gain a little notoriety in Savannah, a lifestyle filled with robberies, fighting, guns, police chases, and gangs, called for an immediate need for a change of scenery. Essōh enlisted into the United States Navy shortly after his 18th birthday. Although this decision would remove him out of his element, and seemingly away from music, God had a plan for the gifts and talents He invested into this young man.
After boot camp and technical schooling was over, Essōh received orders to report to his first duty station, which was in Norfolk, Virginia. While stationed in Norfolk, Essōh joined a local church that was filled with young Christians, and was thoroughly rooted in the Christian Hip Hop genre. It is here that Essōh really began to grow in faith, and develop a relationship with Christ, that even he never thought was possible. “Being a member of the church caused me to catch on fire for Christ! I was soooooo proud to let everyone know I was a Christian, and a member of this particular church”. It is here that Essōh met two other young men who were just as enthused about their faith as he was. These young men were Dontae “Monolog” Phillips and Malachi “The Messenger” Williams. This was the birthplace of Christian Hip Hop trailblazers, Gideonz Army.
Gideonz Army became a household name in the CHH community. With an edgy style, industry videos and production, and lyrical ability that would contend with any of the big names in Hip Hop, GA rose quickly to a place of prominence in CHH. However, with the attention and fame, came temptations and trials. In December 2012, an internal disagreement caused the CHH group to part ways with group member Malachi. This split shocked the CHH community and caused a division to take place amongst the groups core fans. Some though the group would never be the same, while others felt the music wouldn’t be as good as what the group was known for producing. Gideonz Army silenced that belief with their 2014 Billboard Charting album “Hedges and Highways”.
In late 2014, both group members (Souljah Essōh & Monolog) felt a pull to work on and release a solo project. In 2015, Monolog released his solo album entitled “Transparency”, featuring Essōh on the record “I Wish You Would”. In July 2016, Essōh released his solo project entitled “Pledge Allegiance”.
“I felt a need to state my position in Hip Hop, due to the fact that so many artist were going away from the faith in hopes of getting noticed” – Souljah Essōh
With his love for God, love for people, and his passion for music, Souljah Essōh has made it his mission to share the message of Christ through his music and other talents. Foregoing the passive approach, Essōh has set his sights on making a name for himself by in his words, destroying every beat he lays a verse over, in Jesus name!
“I want people to know, I’m no joke when it comes to this music. Always expect my best…the best, when it comes to me and my music.” – Souljah Essōh