Photo: Braden Lee
A person of prismatic self-expression, Sudan-refugee now Minneapolis-based, Dua Saleh's story is a striking mix of battle and art. When cognizant of their past, it is no wonder that their chosen alter-ego takes the name of "Lucifer Labelle," a cheeky critique of hypocritical religious institutions that condemn their queerness (hence Lucifer) and their flamboyant response, reveling in the beauty of the non-binary experience (inspired by icon Patti LaBelle).
Partnering with Dreamville's first signee, Bas, the pair share another epic battle, this time chronicling a story of forbidden love, with a sexy sci-fi twist in "RE(a)D."
Immigrating to the US during the Second Sudanese Civil War in the '90s, Saleh's family fled to the U.S., moving several times around the East Coast. It was during this time that they became smitten with poetry, pouring their heart out at the mic as early as age four, leading to a life in activism as an organizer and eventually to where we find them now. An artist by nature, Saleh's music and intriguing live performance style has drawn eyes of fans and esteemed outlets alike, garnering accolades from the likes of PAPER, I-D, Pigeons & Planes, Pitchfork etc.
Marking the first follow up single to sophomore EP ROSETTA, released earlier this year, "RE(a)D" tells a Romeo Juliet-esque story, but featuring alien creatures in the midst of intergalactic warfare, rather than romantic Italians trapped in a family feud. Perhaps a commentary on the warring factions of progressive versus conservative society and the pursuit to control the love of those they do not understand, Saleh and Bas explore lyrical intricacies, oozing passion and swag over a piano accompaniment, booming bass line and 808-heavy beat. In their own words,
“I wrote this song during a time when I was reading a lot of Sci-fi. In my mind, it’s a tale of two star-crossed lovers from feuding interspecies kingdoms that join a resistance movement. One of the characters is the result of a lab experiment: half-scorpion, half-human. The forbidden lovers are battling their growing emotions in the midst of a crumbling dystopian galaxy. I met Bas last year in Brooklyn for a benefit show and have kept in touch ever since. I sent a couple of ideas and Bas quickly jumped on this one. Sudanese excellence if you ask me."
Listen to "RE(a)D" below!