Emmanuel Jal raps over light Afrobeat rhythms stripped down to desolate grooves. Gunshots scatter songs, but not because Jal is a gangsta, but because he is a former child soldier of the Sudan People's Liberation Army. Smuggled out of the situation by a British aid worker, he began to use music to understand his experiences. His yrics tell stories of harsh militaristic life, starvation, disease and extreme poverty. Jal's mission is to bring world attention to the problems facing Africa.
But not all is doom and gloom: While songs can focus on genocide or have lines like, “Pimps and thieves in Italian-cut suits/ Stop raping Africa like she's your prostitute,” choirs, soulful singing,and fleshed out rhythms can bring light to the musical landscape. Africa becomes less of an exotic spectacle and more of a source for the shared sorrows and hopes of humanity.
Jal takes the stage as part of “Performances for Peace: A Diary of Darfur,” with the UNC Loreleis, Modern Inversions, Zankiliwa, and EROT. Sponsored by Campus Progress and the UNC Students United for Darfur Awareness Now (SUDAN), the $3 tickets will go to aid refugees in Sudanese camps. See Jal tonight at 7 p.m.