Emmanuel Jal See Me Mama

Emmanuel Jal See Me Mama
Credited for introducing a much more musically expansive and message-driven form of locally-produced hip-hop to the region surrounding his native Southern Sudan, celebrated MC and activist Emmanuel Jal continues his long tradition of potent message raps on new disc See Me Mama. Calls for peace within long conflicted areas of the African continent, stark tales of child molestation and simple words of personal perseverance rub up against lighter, sometimes humorous fare about enticing and deceptive women for a balanced assortment of lyrical content that avoids becoming too preachy. That diversity carries over into the artist's stylistically varied arrangements, though with equally varying levels of success. Cuts like "Get Up" and "Ghetto" bump along nicely (in spite of the latter's unfortunate AutoTune inflections), while the rootsier Nyakor is instantly gripping, with its traditional percussive underpinnings. The down-home, lazy afternoon feel of the weighty "Little Naomi," however, completely betrays the serious rape story contained within and the poorly-executed, raucous and repetitive hook of the otherwise dense "She Likes Me" irritates to no end. Still, glaring missteps like these are relatively few, and while Jal may not possess the most polished flow, his passion and words more than make up for the admittedly periodic vocal deficit. (Universal)