Ceasefire is stunning. This collaboration between Emmanuel Jal, a Christian from southern Sudan, and Abdel Gadir Salim, a Moslem from northern Sudan, sends a powerful message throughout the country in the shadow of war. For more than twenty years the Moslem north had battled the non-Moslem south until a peace agreement was reached earlier this year. Sudanâs future, however, remains uncertain. Ceasefire is a powerful and symbolic cry for lasting peace that is urgently needed at this crucial moment in Sudanâs history.
The music lives up to the historical backdrop. Jal is a rap sensation whose popularity has exploded from Nairobi to all of Africa and beyond. Salim is a respected and popular composer, singer, and oud player whose songs reflect the musical traditions of Sudan. He is absent from about half of the songs, which are written and performed by Jal. The remaining songs are written and performed by Salim and his band but feature occasional bursts of rap by Jal. The result of this unlikely and eclectic collaboration is a vibrant and diverse fabric of sound that incessantly stirs up the soul.
Emmanuel Jalâs rap is soft but solid, and his talent is unquestionable. His warmly mellow voice flows over lively, energetic beats. Like his message, his rap stands in sharp contrast to the harsh American variety, and Jalâs style is much more listenable, despite the language barrier. He alternates with grace between each of the five languages (there are translations) on this CD, sometimes multiple times in a single verse. In between verses, joyous and hopeful choruses explode over the music, adding an exotic dimension that accents Jalâs laid-back rapping.
Though most of the songs concern peace for Sudan, one stood out for its address of another urgent issue in Africa. âNyambolâ tells the story of a young girl who suffers abuse and then escapes a forced marriage to ultimately achieve an education and become âan important personâ and âimportant leaderâ in her village. The song showcases both Jalâs rapping ability and his understanding that peace in Sudan, though extremely important, is just one of the many issues in Africa deserving the worldâs attention. He shows definite promise for being both a musical messiah and force for social change in the future.