’Abu Obaida Hassan and the wonders of his five-string tambour remained largely a mystery. In the early 2000s, a prominent Sudanese newspaper declared him dead. Internet forums confirmed his passing. Many in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, said he had indeed died. But rumors that he was still alive persisted.

What was always certain is Abu Obaida Hassan’s mercurial talent. His command of a modified tambour, backed by a chorus and two drummers, unleashed swirling melodies alongside complex Nubian rhythms and hypnotic Sudanese call and response. His bands roster constantly changed, but he remained at the helm, playing for sold out shows in cities across the country and capturing the dancefloors and youth of 1970s and '80s Sudan.

This is a rich, raw example of the human experience with sound from northern Sudan, an ancient part of the world, and the birthplace of civilization. Music like this isn't mastered overnight.


Abu Obaida comes from the Shaigiya people, whose culture is spread around the ancient city of Merowe, home of traditional Nubian culture, where pyramids older than those in Egypt still stand. They trace their entire lineage to one man, Shaig, who migrated from the Arabian peninsula in the 15th century. An endlessly rhythmic syncretism between Arab and Nubian styles, Abu Obaida's Shaigiya music was an in demand party affair in an era when a vibrant nightlife and roving sound systems were a staple of life in Sudan.


Abu Obaida Hassan, his music and the musical traditions of the Shaigiya remain alive and kicking. A culmination of a 7-year journey from first hearing Abu Obaida’s distinct sound, found only in Sudan, to finding the man has produced the first global release of Shaigiya music and is just the beginning of Ostinato's immersion into Sudan, with a full compilation of the lavish musical history of one the most diverse countries in Africa due later this year. All brought to you by the Grammy-nominated team behind last year’s "Sweet As Broken Dates."’