Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Synchronicity and Emmanuel Jal

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If you were a young man left to die, starving in a remote land, after having been forced to commit atrocities and killings against total strangers, what would you do? When i write "starving", i mean quite literally (haven't eaten in days), with little to no hope in sight. Well, listening to former Sudanese child soldier and hip hop artist Emmanuel Jal speak his piece about being in this precise scenario, if it don't move you to tears, it would move you to action. You see, Emmanuel Jal and my paths have crossed a few times over the past six months. Total synchronicity happening here. I interviewed Jal in my new book Hip Hop World, to get his spin on the rap scene in Africa, and for him to provide tips to my readership on how to become better raptivists. Its one of the chapters I personally enjoy most in my book (if i'm allowed to write that). And we had an incredible chat about what it is to be young, black and male in the new millenium. And all of this happened outside the gaze of publicists, record industry handlers, and the like. We then criss crossed paths in New York a few weeks ago, the day after I launched my book in Harlem (uptown, baby!). He was presenting his story to stunned (and naive) NYU students, who didn't seem to quite get what adversity means. The tuition to attend NYU for one semester could feed Jal's village ten times over. Nevertheless, Jal's "War Child" book makes a great companion piece to Hip Hop World. If you hadn't eaten in weeks, were on the brink of starvation in the desert, while everyone around you was committing suicide to end the suffering and misery, would you:

a) Put Your Gun To Your Temple, Like Cobain?


b) Consider eating the flesh of the human being closest to you, who happens to be your friend, and thus commit an act of cannibalism to stay alive?

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Dalton Higgins

Dalton Higgins is a music programmer, pop culture critic, author, broadcaster and journalist. He is also Canada’s foremost expert on hip hop culture. His latest book is Hip Hop World (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi).

Go to Dalton Higgins’s Author Page