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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

"Ceasefire" is the title of a new musical collaboration from Sudan. It features a young Christian rapper named Emmanuel Jal and an elderly Muslim singer called Abdel Gadir Salim. Banning Eyre has this review.

(Soundbite of music)

BANNING EYRE reporting:

No matter where you live, if you want to rap, it helps to have a story. Emmanuel Jal was a child orphan recruited into the Sudanese People's Liberation Army to fight battles before the age of 10 and smuggled into exile in Kenya, where he became a gospel singer and then a socially engaged rapper. Now in his 20s, Jal is achieving global fame as an authentic voice of African hip-hop, comfortable in English, Arabic, Swahili and his own original tongue, Nuer.

(Soundbite of "Elengwen")

Mr. EMMANUEL JAL: (Rapping in foreign language)

EYRE: In this song, "Elengwen," Jal urges his Sudanese countrymen to make peace work. `If you don't forgive each other,' he says, `you are the ones that will destroy us. Here, peace has come. Don't mess it up. If you are Anyuak, Nuer or Nuba, it doesn't matter. We are one. Let's live together as God decreed.'

Backing words with action, Jal, a devout Christian, joins forces with Abdel Gadir Salim, a venerable Muslim wedding singer famed for adapting the music of desert nomads to the big city of Khartoum. A few years back a religious zealot attacked Salim with a knife. So for all their differences, these two artists converge strongly in their rejection of violence.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. ABDEL GADIR SALIM: (Singing in foreign language)

EYRE: Salim's earthy roots pop contrasts with Jal's hip-hop aesthetics. But the two share clear, strong, understated voices, a kind of Pan-Sudanese cool. They seem quite at home on each other's musical turf.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. JAL: (Rapping in foreign language)

EYRE: The CD "Ceasefire" might easily crumble under the burden of its high concept, but somehow the result glides past all the symbolism, metaphor and cultural intrigue with sheer musicality.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. SALIM: (Singing in foreign language)

EYRE: Though beautiful to hear, "Ceasefire" ultimately conquers with its message. On the final song, Jal honors his dead mother, tying her gift of faith to his own survival and success. `Hear what I put into practice,' he says. `My mother's influence, her belief in God. When I asked for help in my distress, he showed up.' From a kid who made it from the desert battlefields to the concert stages of Europe, that's hard to knock

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: The CD is "Ceasefire" from Emmanuel Jal and Abdel Gadir Salim. Our reviewer is Banning Eyre.

(Soundbite of music)

ROBERT SIEGEL (Host): You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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