Legendary South Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal features Nairobi in new album

Legendary South Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal features Nairobi in new album

South Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal. PHOTO| COURTESY

Emmanuel Jal, a South Sudanese rapper and singer who rose from the ashes of a brutal civil war to the highest heights in the music world, is back with yet another album release after a long hiatus.

The decorated former refugee, who was rescued from the vagaries of the bloody South Sudanese civil war, has been busy cooking up material set to be a follow-up to his last hit album before obtaining his Canadian citizenship.

The singer is set to drop his 8th studio album titled 'Shangah' on the 7th of July, 2022. Unlike his previous work, this album features very distinctive sounds of 'Afrobeat', the Nigerian music genre that has, over the last few years, become a staple in the global world of pop.

The album sees the singer continue to address his own refugee story as well as that of other refugees scattered across the world and tell their stories of resilience, pain, hope and victory over hardship.

The lead single, 'Shangah', after which the album is named, combines elements of world music with an African touch and infuses South Sudanese lyrics while also capturing the Nuer and Dinka dialects across the other 13 songs.

So far, the singer has dropped two singles off the album - 'Hey Mama' (released in 2021) and 'Rakaboom', a playful love song that also ropes in a little Kenyan influence.

"Shangah means ‘I am or I have been.’ The album reflects where I am, whilst recognizing where I have been. I want to create music which pays homage to my heritage whilst paving a positive way forward for my people," he says.

After all these years, Emmanuel Jal's relationship with Kenya still remains strong as he flew into the country to record his 'Shangah' music video in downtown Nairobi, alongside Kenyan video producer Ogega Andere.

The video captures Nairobi's iconic 1970's and 80's image with a colourful lush of vintage fashion and looks.

'Shangah' the album features collaborations with several other singers including Check B, Mary Makel, Nubian Redd and MC Ghetto.

In a career that spans over 17 years, Emmanuel Jal has risen through the music ranks to work with and perform alongside artists like Alicia Keys, Nile Rogers, Ed Sheeran, Peter Gabriel and Kenya's Juliani, while also performing on acclaimed world stages, from Live 8 to Nelson Mandela's 90th Birthday Party.


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