Sudanese rapper Soulja has dropped his debut album, ‘Deja Vu’, capturing the essence of uncanny familiarity and prophecy. Contemplating his upbringing, challenges and dreams, Soulja’s 14-track album contemplates how to best embrace one’s destiny, following the path set before you regardless of the successes and setbacks that may befall you on the way.

The rapper has been steadily rising in the Arabic rap scene through collaborations with producers and rappers from varied backgrounds, without restricting himself to a singular sound. While maintaining rap as the essence of his identity, Soulja ventures into multiple styles of production and beat selections, demonstrating his sense of experimentation and his ability to veer from conventional hip-hop.

We’re introduced to the album through the ‘Intro’ produced by Egyptian producer 77. Soulja’s lyrics, “مش فاهم حاجه يادوب وصلت,” gives us a glimpse into his sense of existential dread and loss. Though he moved up the echelons of the rap scene, Soulja still feels out of place. The surrounding beat sets the tone of the record as we transition into the title track, ‘Deja Vu’. The minimal production approach sets the stage for Soulja’s flow to shine, as he dynamically switches his introspective delivery.

‘Haqeqa’ emerges as a highlight of the album, featuring a collaboration between Soulja and fellow Sudanese artist Sammany. The track commences with Soulja's humming, introducing a disco-inspired beat that is then transformed into a lively party anthem by Sammany’s vocals. As the track progresses, a shift occurs in the beat, maintaining the same loop but with the percussion evolving into a robust trap beat characterised by intense hi-hats and 808s. Soulja delivers his verse over this dynamic shift before the track concludes with an extended guitar solo accompanied by EDM rhythms.

In tracks such as 'London', Soulja skillfully embraces London's signature drill beats, delivering them flawlessly with his subtle vocals and melodic flows. Reflecting on his current life situation, Soulja scrutinises the intersection of his artistry, lifestyle and fame. In 'Habsha with Flippter', Soulja embodies his unique trap sound on a beat produced by 77, with Flippter contributing a powerful verse that elevates the track.

The overarching theme of the record sees Soulja reflecting on his personal journey, paying homage to his Sudanese roots on multiple bars across the album. Soulja teams up with 77 and Khayyat for the majority of the album, displaying his versatility in flowing over diverse sonic landscapes. While the album falls short of achieving a cohesive sound throughout, we’ve definitely gotten some of Soulja’s best performances on tracks like ‘Habsha’, ‘Ronaldo’ and ‘Haqeqa’.