San Francisco (California), USA – Emmanuel Jal is one of the hottest rappers to explode out of the African music scene. A former child-soldier from war-torn Sudan, Jal recently entranced the audience at Africa Calling/Live 8 at the Eden Project, Cornwall. Watch Emmanuel Jal’s performance from Live 8 – Africa Calling
His latest album, Ceasefire, brings Jal (a Christian rapper from the south) and Abdel Gadir Salim (a Moslem musician from the north), two musicians from opposite sides of the bloody Sudanese conflict, together for the first time. After twenty-one years of civil war, the 2005 peace deal between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) brings a fragile truce between the Moslem north and the predominantly Christian south. The Sudanese people have suffered from the cultural, ethnic and religious friction between the north and the south, and this collaboration is a symbolic and peaceful contribution to the ongoing peace process.
Recorded in Nairobi and London, Ceasefire, was produced by Paul Borg, who is uniquely placed to bridge popular rap culture and African music. He has worked for artists such as Naughty By Nature, MC Solar and Urban Species, and has earned an excellent reputation within the world music scene working with Cheb Bilal and Mory Kante.
Musically, Ceasefire, is an album of two parts. Abdel Gadir Salim composed ‘Ya Salam’ – a tribute to peace that Jal guest raps on – ‘Lemon Bara’, ‘Hadiya’ and ‘Gamearina’. Jal composed Aiwa’, ‘Elengwen’, ‘Nyambol’, ‘Baai’ and ‘Gua’, performed with his rap crew, the Reborn Warriors. Salim and his band, Merdoum All Stars, feature on some of Jal’s compositions, bringing ud, electric guitar, saxophone, accordion, bass guitar and percussion playing to the mix, while Jal and his rap crew, the Reborn Warriors, add raps to Salim’s innovative
compositions. ‘Asabi’ was co-written by both artists and all the material featured on Ceasefire focuses on the central theme of peace and reconciliation.
The album includes a re-recording of ‘Gua’ (meaning ‘good’ in Nuer and ‘power’ in Arabic), Jal’s Kenyan chart-topper, and the lyrics discuss his aspirations for peace in Sudan.
Despite different musical traditions, Ceasefire, brings out the common links between the Sudanese traditions and creates a captivating musical fusion. Both artists have been scarred by the violence (Salim was brutally stabbed by a fundamentalist campaigning against music in Khartoum) and this incredible collaboration brings together a Sudanese music maestro with a young rapper
capturing the world’s attention, and produces music bursting with talent and intricate melodies. As Jal is fond of repeating: ‘It is better to build bridges than to burn them.’