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Emmanuel Jal and Sudanese music compilation

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From the BBC Radio 3

LONDON, June 1, 2005 — Emmanuel Jal is a young rapper from the southern Sudan and a former soldier who for five years of his childhood was involved in the bloody civil war in Sudan. By a stroke of luck he ended up being adopted by a British aid worker when he was 11, smuggled to Nairobi, Kenya, where he got the chance to change his life and get an education.

Emmanuel Jal
Twelve years ago as a starving child soldier in war-torn Sudan, Emmanuel Jal, seen here in Nairobi, contemplated suicide and cannibalism, but these days, he basks in local celebrity as rap artist who has hit the Kenyan charts. (AFP).

Emmanuel also developed a passion for music and started rapping (in Nuer Arabic, Swahili and English). His break happened last September with his single ’Gua’ which became a massive hit in Kenya.

The only place to get this song in the UK is on the ’The Rough Guide to the Music of Sudan’ compilation which is why I initially wanted to get hold of the CD. Apart from Emmanuel there is no other rap on the CD but what an excellent compilation. I wasn’t sure what to expect of Sudanese music but it’s a great selection showcasing music from Africa’s largest country. The musical influences are predominantly Arabic, as well as Egyptian and even Congolese. Apart from ’Gua’ other stand-out tracks include ’Sawani’ by Setona, ’Tour To Africa’ by Tarig Abubakar & The Afro-Nubians, ’In Kadugli’ by Joseph Modi and ’Na-Nu Na-Nu’ by Abdel Aziz El Mubarak (who has performed at both WOMAD and Glastonbury). Interestingly, because of the country’s political situation most of the music featured on this CD has actually been recorded outside Sudan.

And coming back to Emmanuel Jal, he is not just featured on this compilation - he is now signed to Riverboat Records/World Music Network and is currently working on an album to be released later this year. It will be a collaboration with none other than Abdel Gadir Salim (a Muslim singer, composer and Oud player from northern Sudan) who is also featured on the Rough Guide compilation.

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