Music Review: Warchild

Emmanuel Jal. Sonic360/Fontana/Universal

While 28-year-old former Sudanese child soldier Emmanuel Jal speaks with an authority other rappers lack, he also passes muster musically. Blending hip-hop and African and Jamaican grooves, Jal's spellbinding third album would be good party fodder if it weren't for the disturbing subject matter. Somberly emphatic, he spins tales of war without histrionics, letting startling lines like "I was tempted to eat the rotten flesh of my comrade" stand on their own. His scornful dismissal of gangsta posturing is also memorable. Hearing an angelic choir chant "No hos, no bitches, no bling" is both outrageously funny and oddly compelling.