Musicians have flooded the industry for ages, but there are always a handful of people who stand out. Those people take your average music and turn it into a string of beats and rhythms that make you feel something.
Sinkane is a Sudanese-American musician. He was born in Sudan but moved to America at a young age. He is a black Muslim and walked into a world utterly different from his life in Sudan at a tender age. Music was far from something he thought of doing back then, but with time, he realized that he could convey his thoughts, emotions, and opinions in a way that people would appreciate. He is now a star who blends electronica, prog rock, free jazz, krautrock, and funk rock with Sudanese pop. Sinkane has become a name that many utter, and his music is what everyone has hummed and felt relatable.
His struggle to adapt
When he was young, Sinkane experienced a series of situations that caused him to question his own identity. He was a black Muslim living in an Islamophobic world that believed in white supremacy. He would often get fascinated by the variety of religions as well. For example, he said that he’d wake up to the smell of bacon at sleepovers with his American friends, which would interest him as it’d never happen in his household.
These differences caused a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts. Sinkane wanted to stand true to who he was, but he struggled to identify who that person was. This confusion and inability to figure out who he was because of the clash of civilizations sprouted the idea of his 2012 album Mars.
He explained that he does feel like a foreigner, and the album is based on that very feeling of alienation. He ended up creating multiple songs about his life story but always aimed to be vague. He did this so that those who heard it could relate to the music in their way.
Inspiration and results of Dépaysé
Dépaysé, his latest album, was released on May 31st, 2019. The inspiration of the groovy, East African-inspired, and psychedelic title track sprung up in one of Sinkane’s dreams. He dreamt that at night, he was walking the streets of Omdurman, a city in Sudan, when he heard someone singing in Arabic and playing the guitar. It was his father! He sat under a streetlight on the ground, in front of the house he lived in his childhood.
His voice sounded powerful, hypnotic, and raw as he sang the following lyrics: “Our days have left us in the city,” “I am your life,” “From within the city until our uprising,” “With our imagination, we move forward,” and “And all of our lives.” He sang these lyrics multiple times, and Sinkane sang the exact words in his song.
The French term Dépaysé literally means “to be removed from one’s habitual surroundings.” This was perfect for the message that Sinkane wanted to get across. He describes this album as “an immigrant’s journey of self-discovery in the Trump era.” This aligns with a question he had for a significant chunk of his life, “What is my true identity?” solving this question is what the album is about. His dual cultural identities are why he released it in two languages: Arabic, his first language, and English.
The whole album gave him a sense of peace. He was able to sing about his fears and thoughts freely. He also elaborated on how he managed to look over the walls that the lack of diversity and racism had put up. After creating this album, he is no longer afraid of what he thought was unknown and is not confused about his Sudanese and American identities. Now, he says that he warmly accepts himself and understands who he is. These clusters of emotions, now aligned and composed, have made him feel like a new person.
His message for all
After moving on from albums like 2017’s Life and Livin’ It and 2012’s Mars, Sinkane realized that he now had to move on from concealing the way he felt in his music and start using it as a way to grow out of the pressing alienation he had built up for decades. He realized that there are probably others just like him, and he owes it to them to explain his journey so they understand. He did all of this through a beautiful medium: music.
In the second song of his recent album, “Everyone” he sings about all the differences amongst people. He later brings about a line that exposes the secret to the acceptance of contrasts- the logical conclusion. He explains how love is the key to helping everyone understand different people from what they are used to. It is love that brings about acceptance so that everyone lives in harmony.
He also sings and writes his music to resonate with changes in Sudan and the U.S. In his previous album, he sings about issues that have sprung up from both a political and social perspective in songs like “Ya Sudan.” Sinkane explains how he felt so deeply about those issues, especially when Sudan was included in the U.S. travel ban, that he needed to pour his heart out. He explains these issues beautifully and leaves heartwarming messages about equality.
Lastly, his main goal was to make one piece of information very clear. This world is a better place because of the differences and variety of people. He says that everyone may be a stranger, but we are all on a strange land as well. That is the beauty behind diversity. The differences and unfamiliarity that the world brings push us to see what the world has to offer. He believes that all of us, collectively, create the real meaning behind “the American Dream.”
These beautiful and sincere lyrics, full of heartache and, eventually, peace, are what make all of Sinkane’s music stand out. That, coupled with his award-worthy vocals, are enough to bring anyone to tears and fill their hearts with hope.