We had the good fortune of connecting with G-SALIH and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi G-SALIH, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in Virginia, to Sudanese parents who immigrated to the United States just before I was born. I’m the first in my family to be born in the U.S and that put my parents, my siblings, and I in a very unique situation. My dad has told me countless times the story of his journey out of Sudan to the West in hopes of creating a better future for himself, his family back home, and what would become his daughter and four sons. He named me “Gihad”, after the Islamic word “jihad”, meaning a “spiritual struggle within oneself”. To me, it also serves as a reminder of the sacrifices my parents made to build the foundation that my siblings and I were fortunate enough to be born into this world having. Going back to Sudan as a kid, connecting with my roots, and seeing how different the lifestyle was in a developing country widened my perspective at a young age and it was then that I committed to my life’s purpose to help those who need it most.
As the first-generation Sudanese-American in my family, like many sons and daughters of immigrants, I grew up with feeling as though I was oddly stuck between two lands. With the pressures to fit in to an American society, I oftentimes found myself struggling to embrace the culture that my parents worked hard to preserve at home. It led to this identity crisis that I think followed me through my life into adulthood. But as I’ve matured, I begun appreciating both aspects of my Sudanese-American background and viewing the uniqueness in that as an opportunity to connect with others of all backgrounds. The motor behind my art is a drive is to be a leader within a community of people who struggle to find themselves and a responsibility to help those who don’t have the capacity or opportunities to help themselves.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is an authentic, true reflection of who I am, which I think, as a listener, makes you more comfortable connecting and reflecting on yourself. I set a really high bar for myself when it comes to my writing. I take my time in the studio. I pay attention to the messages I get across. Most people say that my cadence and vocal tone immediately draws their attention on first listen, which add energy to the meaning. Whether it’s deeper messages I get across about anxiety, fears, and doubts, or my playful and braggadocios styles, or motivated verses that capture the hunger in my journey, I always lean on what’s most genuine to me.
I have this fundamental perspective that all human beings experience the same things in life, just in different ways. I think being “real” is just allowing yourself to be vulnerable and expose your emotions, which will resonate with others in some way, shape, or form because of this universal nature of life.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’d have to take them to all the iconic food spots in D.C, including Ben’s Chilli Bowl. We’d have to stop by a take-out to get some chicken wings with mumbo sauce. Most definitely gotta hit up some Jamaican spots in the city. Hitting Georgetown to soak in the lively atmosphere and get some hookah is a must. If the weather’s right, night bike-riding and seeing all the landmarks is always a vibe. Maybe go check out a Gogo one night, and a jazz club another night.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to shoutout every single one of my fans. They inspire and motivate me to keep chasing this dream of mine, and constantly remind me of the power in this art to connect with others’ hearts and minds.
Nadine Elroubi Trebreh Baaheth Alex Reyes