The Musical Dentist

When some people think of the dentist, they imagine that terrifying drilling sound. However, there’s a dentist in Sudan whose sound is so popular, he may have to quit and pursue a career in music.

Sufyan Ali grew up in Kuwait watching MTV, his only means to hear hip-hop. Eventually, he moved to Sudan to study medicine. After graduating, Ali started producing beats and today he finds himself splitting time between dentistry and making music. In an interview over on bandcamp Sufyan Ali tells the story about how he became Sufyvn.

His artistic career has not suffered despite being in Sudan, which is heavily sanctioned by the U.S. The recent travel ban was not really news there. Ali tells the interviewer that people in Sudan are no longer surprised by Western politics. Ali cannot sell his music online, “Because of the American sanctions—the political shit—I can’t open a Paypal account or a credit card. I can’t press vinyl because shipping would be very tricky.” According to Ali, Sudan doesn’t have a real big scene for electronic or hip-hop music. Yet, his music has got attention locally, in the Middle East, and in the U.S. because of the way Ali blends Sudanese traditional music samples into his beats. He admits that if he does do a live show in Sudan, he sticks to his Sudanese samples or simply deejays a set because he knows the audience there isn’t interested in Western hip-hop.

Another appealing part of Sufyan Ali’s story is his passion for dentistry. We often think of musicians and artists in the Western world as one-trick ponies, but every individual is capable of multiple passions. As I covered recently, aside from acting, Hedy Lamarr was an invetor. So, why can’t Ali pursue dentistry and music? This shouldn’t be a foreign concept to us, but it does feel that way. Personally, I suppose that once artists in the West get the spotlight, they go viral, they do anything to prolong their 15 minutes. Rappers try acting while actors try to sell albums, but we rarely see someone like Benedict Cumberbatch take a break from films and TV to practice dog grooming. Ali works to balance his job as a dentist and making beats at the moment, but he recognizes that he needs more time for his music and may have to choose in the future.

Take a moment to get to know the artist known as Sufyvn and his music over at bandcamp. Thanks to Adam Dachis for introducing me to Sufyvn’s chill beats which now have a home in my library.