On “U’Huh,” the lead single from Sinkane’s new album, Life & Livin’ It, bandleader Ahmed Gallab sings to alleviate our concerns. In his view, the struggles we endured in 2016—the endless parade of death, the social unrest, and the presidential campaign—can be overcome if we all stick together. “It’s always been this way,” Gallab sings. “As long as we try, we’re gonna be alright.”
That message isn’t surprising if you’ve followed his career to this point: His previous albums, Mars (2012) and Mean Love (2014), radiated the same positivity, even if they didn’t directly address such issues. Musically, Gallab has always been something of a polymath, and his new record as Sinkane is perhaps his most fully-realized, mostly because he’s stopped trying to fit in. Its songs—a blend of Afropop, funk, and jazz—give off a tropical atmosphere without belonging to any one genre in particular.
We spoke with Gallab about the new album, his personal and creative growth over the years, and how working with his idols helped him come to grips with his identity.