Sinkane – We Belong (City Slang)

Dear black communities dispersed all over the world,

With embracing arms, thank you for giving my previously-lost soul a clear identity. 

Sinkane’s enthralling celebratory record We Belong acts a love letter to black culture and the preceding sentence could possibly be the opening line to Ahmed Gallad’s scriptural serenade, as it reflects the mental transition of the London-born Sudanese American since his pre-Covid album Dépaysé. His previous album has a title that when translated from French means homeless, which when knowing the musician’s multi-cultural background is understandable. After becoming a mature student at a music theory school, Ahmed Gallad gained a fresh perspective on both composition – this is particularly noticeable on We Belong’s attention to detail and dramatic key changes, especially in the song’s bridges – and the history of black music.

The disco-funk opener ‘Come Together’ has immediate impact. Gallad opens up from a personal perspective about his identity confusion – as per on other albums – but this time he is also attempting to connect with members of African diasporas when singing: “Lived in many houses. None of them our own. Don’t know of where we came from. Don’t know where is home” before gaining a new self confidence and discussing about the various locations of black people around the world: “ Puzzle pieces on a map. We are more than what we see. Come together, come together. Greater than a sum of parts. There’s a better life to be. Come together.” On the top the cinematic synth lines and robotic filters is We Belong’s first rally call.

There’s a gospel enthusiasm on the record’s first song but a more authentic gospel can be heard on the title track ‘We Belong’ . Joined by the euphoria belting out of Connecticut vocalist STOUT, it’s a stunning energy of emotion that recalls the climax to Michael Jackson’s Will You Be There. It’s easy to carried away and imagine yourself in Sinkane’s church as Ahmed Gallad, STOUT and the backing singers cantillate: “Yes mamma we made it, because we belong!” after feeling overwhelmed by life, as shown in the line: “Consistently paranoid. Reaching for these false prophets to numb the pain. Got me in trouble again.” Also by stating that: “To err is human” they are aiming to forgive the past and head towards the future.

STOUT also features on ‘Another Day’ and ‘The Anthem’. A Wikipedia-absent soulful revelation who brings a 1990s R&B vibe, especially on the album closer ‘The Anthem’ which recalls Lauryn Hill’sEverything is Everything’. It’s the album’s most unapologetic embrace of race: “I love being black, yes I do, being black, there’s nothing that we lack.” It’s a testament to Sinkane’s new approach of stepping back from hogging the vocal limelight and acting as a producer by letting the featured artists take over.

Something he does with Brooklyn-based Afro-Latino artist Tru Osborne on the Cuban jazz-flavoured ‘Invisible Distance’ and ‘Everything’s Everything’ – a song that could imagine Michael Kiwanuka performing Marvin Gaye’sInner City Blues’. Like Gaye’s song it’s a track that reflects the life of a black person in America: “Ain’t nobody listening, how long we are gonna keeping asking what we want to say / I want to walk down the avenue and not have to worry. Sometimes I’m scared of tomorrow, these days bring too much sorrow.”

Furthermore, he allows Hollie Cook to bring her reggae magic to ‘Home’, a track that answers some of Ahmed Gallad’s doubts about his belonging: “Home is where the world is spinning round, home is where my roots are in the ground. Home is everywhere, my heart is everywhere.” A soothing penultimate gift on a rewarding album that’s been created with Sinkane’s newfound artisan production – including mesmerizing bridges and song climaxes – and laced together with transparent heart and honesty.

Yours (with the passion on show it does make it seem this way) sincerely,

Ahmed Gallad a.k.a Sinkane ❤️❤️❤️


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.