Amoeblog

Artists From Muslim Nations Unite @ SxSW's "ContraBanned #MusicUnites" Showcase and "Musicians & the Travel Ban" Panel

Posted by Billyjam, March 15, 2017 10:54am | Post a Comment


SxSW is far more than a new music and film festival and party gathering in Austin TX each March. Rarher the annual music, film, and interactive media festival, that began back in 1987, has steadily grown to become a relevant cultural and political gathering. Among this year's hot cultural topics is the new documentary Stranger Fruit. containing previously unseen security footage of Michael Brown, that premiered at SxSW over the past opening weekend of the ten day festival. Since that SxSW screening the controversial documentary has been grabbing news headlines and reviving discussion on the August 2014 fatal shooting in Ferguson that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

Another hot button political topic at this year's SxSW is the ContraBanned #MusicUnites concert showcase and panel discussion, happening Friday March 17th. Self-described as "artists from the diaspora of the banned nations," ContraBanned is the collective of artists (including Emmanuel Jal pictured above/interviewed below) that came into being following the January 27th Executive Order issued by the new White House administration's banning entry into the U.S. for ninety days by citizens from seven majority Muslim countries as well as to banning entry to Syrian refugees indefinitely.  Even though that controversial Executive Order from six weeks ago, that singled out the nations of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, had been temporarily suspended plans for the SxSW showcase this Friday (March 17th) remained firmly in place. Similarly even after the March 6th updated Executive Order that removed Iraq from the list of nations affected plus exempted lawful permanent residents and green card holders.

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BILLY JAM'S HIP-HOP ROUND UP OF THE WEEK: EMMANUEL JAL +

Posted by Billyjam, May 2, 2008 07:20am | Post a Comment

Not since M.I.A., with her well-publicized turbulent political past, has an artist with such an extraordinary life-story arrived on the scene as Sudanese child soldier turned-rapper Emmanuel Jal.

The musician/songwriter/rapper whose autobiographical album Warchild will be released on May 13th was a featured guest at the premiere of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York earlier this week where the documentary about him, the Karim Chrobog directed War Child, made its American premiere. (It had its world premiere earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival.) The film outlines the tough life of this 28 year old musician who was a soldier in the Sudanese People's Liberatin Army when he was only eight years of age.  Jal's autobiography will be published by St. Martin's Press later this year.

His story is truly an amazing one.  But what about the music, you ask?  Well, unlike M.I.A., whose music was even more exciting than the publicity package that preceded her, Emmanuel Jal's new album "Warchild," which was recorded in London in 2006 and 2007, is kinda disappointing -- to these ears anyway, after one full listen. Maybe the hype had me expecting too much.   Sung/rapped mostly in English and veering between reggae and rap, Emmanuel Jal sounds too often like he is trying too hard to emulate popular American rappers and it just ain't working. Hence, he is at his best on the tracks where he isn't trying to streamline his sound for US or British audiences.

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