On December 19, 2018, several street demonstrations broke out in Sudan’s capital Khartoum and several other major cities throughout the country. Demanding that Omar Hassan al-Bashir — who had ruled for about 30 years — step down, protesters also took to the streets to call out the country’s corrupted system and souring living conditions, asking for free elections and economic reforms.
Though al-Bashir has recently been deposed via military coup, the people of Sudan are still protesting. The country’s demonstrations have sparked up international conversations due to the government’s use of violence, but also due to the protesters’ use of music as a tool to voice their discontent — whether through a saxophone, violin, or synthesizer. In fact, for those who may not be familiar, Sudan has had a long, special relationship with music.
In the ’70s and ’80s, Sudan’s music was incredibly popular across the African continent, with legendary singers such as Mohamed Wardi easily selling out stadiums in metropolises like Addis Ababa, Mogadishu, and Yaoundé. With abundant use of violins and accordions, as well as synths and drum machines some years later, Sudan’s musical reach went far beyond its Nubian lands.
Today, the country’s musical scene looks a bit different. The younger generation of musicians are gearing towards genres such as rap, and there are far fewer violins and orchestral symphonies, but the music sounds just as good — whether you understand Arabic or not. With the current political situation, rap in Sudan has also become the perfect tool to support the revolution, while telling the country’s stories of resilience. And with so many Sudanese communities in the US and the UK, there’s a fair share of English-speaking Sudani rappers, too.
Scroll on to discover 10 Sudanese rappers you should keep an eye on.
Born in 1997, AKA Keyz had lived in eight different countries before finally settling in Birmingham, UK. After shuffling through three continents, Keyz first made a mark in 2018, thanks to his single “No Options Left.”
Most recently, the UK-based Sudanese rapper has released “Wait For Me,” as well as collaborating with fellow Sudanese rappers Omar Majid, G-SALIH, and AidyProof on “Sudania.” The latter track — which was released right in the midst of Sudan’s protests — is a big F you to then-President al-Bashir, flawlessly summarizing the sentiments of many young Sudanese citizens.
Most likely, you’ll already be familiar with Bas. The rapper is signed to Dreamville Records — J.Cole‘s very own label — has collaborated with the likes of A$AP Ferg and Ab-Soul, and his third album Milky Way was released just last year. But in the midst of all of that, you may have missed the fact that he’s Sudanese.
Real name Abbas Hamad, Bas was actually born in Paris from Sudanese parents —something the rapper is pretty proud of. Growing up, Bas spent countless summers in his parents’ homeland (like many other kids born from African parents), and his most recent African tour had a final show in Khartoum. Most recently, the rapper has been pretty vocal in his support of the Sudan uprisings via social media, speaking with such outlets as Channel 4 News and The Atlantic.
Though some of his delivery may be comedic, Flippter means business. The rapper, real name Loay Karim, may be the best example of politically-charged and conscious in rap Sudan. His first hit, “Gorasa,” shed light on Saudi stereotypes of Sudanese people, all while keeping things comic.
Following a brief hiatus, Flippter has recently released new songs such as “Tamees” and “Hatred,” both coming instant hits. It’s not hard to imagine why they’ve gained traction — both tracks feature lyrics calling out the Sudanese government, resonating with all those currently taking to the streets of Khartoum to voice their frustrations. Though it’s hard to predict what will be next for the country, you can count on Flippter to give you the whole rundown.
Coming from Arlington, Virginia, G-SALIH (real name Gihad Salih) is the son of Sudanese immigrants. While growing up in Virginia, G-SALIH developed a passion for writing poetry and rap, so it was only right for him to pursue rap seriously at the age of 20.
That’s when singles such as “Bloom,” “Preeminence,” and “4AM Flows” were released, as well as several freestyles. In his lyrics, the Sudanese-American rapper covers everything from depression and drug addiction to relationship problems, using music as a tool for self-reflection and development. Though the young rapper hasn’t released any official albums as of yet, his first studio album is slated to drop sometime in 2019.
Following his hit single “Alright” in collaboration with TooDope (more on him later), it was only right for MaMan to get some shine on his own, too. Soon after, the Sudanese rapper came out with his first solo track, “Grow Fast,” which anticipated his album titled 1991.
Thanks to his uplifting lyrics — as well as the ability to sing, rap, and produce — MaMan is now recognized as one of the best emerging talents in Sudan, representing the country’s young creative community and their struggle to find a place within the its current political and socioeconomic scenarios. Like most Sudanese artists, MaMan has been vocalizing his frustrations with the political situation to pointed effect.
Those into mellow rap will already be acquainted with Oddisee. Part of the Mello Music Group family — which also counts the likes of Apollo Brown, Jean Grae, and Rapper Big Pooh — the American producer and rapper has been active for many years now. But, just like Bas, he’s also of Sudanese descent.
Born Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, Oddisee is the son of a Sudanese father and an African-American mother and grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland — the home to many Sudanese and other African communities. “My dad is Sudanese, from North Sudan,” said Oddisee in a 2012 interview with Red Bull Music Academy. “He’s from Omdurman, which is the sister city of Khartoum. And my musical career has been a reflection of that combination. Like using off-kilter drum sequences, that are drawn from DC go-go music and Sudanese music.”
Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Ramey Dawoud is a Sudanese-American rapper with an extremely laid back flow. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Ramey then immigrated to the United States in 1999, before settling in KC.
He first entered the music scene in 2008, when he independently released Diary of a Menace, after which he went on to enter a career in acting. But he couldn’t leave music altogether, and made his return to the music scene in 2017 with the album Kashta. Titled after a Nubian king, the album touches on Ramey’s life as an immigrant in the US, race relations, and his love for Sudan. Clearly, Sudan loves him back, as the album was nominated for Best Album at the 2018 Reportage Music Awards in Khartoum.
Proudly hailing from Omdurman, roTation is a rapper with a loyal following in Sudan and beyond. Real name Tamer Siddig, the rapper first gained popularity through tracks such as “Green” and “249,” garnering over 250,000 plays on SoundCloud.
Mostly rapping in English, roTation is probably one of the most eclectic rappers in Sudan. A rapper, songwriter, and producer, roTation can easily go from quick spitting to earnest singing, dabbling in everything from rap and soul trap to R&B and afrobeat. His latest single “Randaka” proves just that — over an afrobeat-infused beat, roTation can be heard singing and rapping with ease, also including a line in Pidgin English saying “I dey come from Omdurman I tell them.”
Though he’s currently studying to become an architect, Seido Simba is determined to make a mark on Sudan’s rap scene. Raised within a family of poets, Seido Simba took inspiration from his father’s poems, which were mostly about love, but also Sudan’s politics.
Seido first began rapping in 2008, but went on a seven-year-hiatus to focus on his studies. In August 2018, he decided to pick up the pen again to write “Trama” — his biggest song to date. While the video to the song may look absolutely ridiculous, the track is actually titled after a drug popular among the Sudanese youth and touches on topics such as drug abuse and school dropout.
Born Tayeb Hajo, TooDope is a young rapper who spent his formative years between Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, before returning to his homeland. Once in Sudan, TooDope became determined to make it as a rapper and, in 2017, his career took off.
That same year, TooDope linked up with local artist MaMan, starting a hip-hop initiative named “Young JustUs,” and subsequently released the single “Alright,” featuring his partner in crime. The song, which includes both Arabic and English lyrics, was rapturously received both in Sudan and abroad, with over one million YouTube views and counting. Now, the rapper is working on releasing his debut album #249TooDope, so stay tuned for more to come.