Monday, October 10, 2005

And you think things are bad in the ghetto...

I was fascinated to listen to this Sudanese Lost Boy rapper Emmanuel Jal tell his story. I'd have liked to think I wouldn't commit suicide after I was rescued just because I happened to eat somebody's corpse back when I was really hungry, but apparently a lot of people do. The guy's hip-hop bent my mind too--sort of like in a dream where you discover you can understand Japanese. When musicians from another culture play an American idiom sometimes it seems like tribute-band mimicry--artistically hollow. But this guy's hip-hop seemed like method--at least to me. Like the Greek chorus, I suppose, the doo-wap girls transcend culture. No idea what language he was rapping, but I knew exactly what was going on. Even if I never have eaten anybody. And you can dance to it.

Postscript: It seems I'm late to the party and this African artist is all over the Web. None of what I said applies to the clips or videos I found for download. I recommend the Terri Gross interview, which has a couple musical interludes.

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