8 Facts About Dua Saleh, the Sudanese Artist Who Co-Wrote on Travis Scott’s ‘Utopia’

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After five long years, Texas-born rapper Travis Scott, born Jacques Bermon Webster II, finally released his much-anticipated fourth studio album Utopia, coming as a sequel to the chart-topping Astroworld which hit streaming platforms in 2018. Ahead of the noise-generating reveal of what the tastemaker has been working on in his time away from the public eye, many aspects surrounding the album’s content and roll-out have been subject to intense levels of curiosity and scrutiny by fans, music critics, and industry insiders alike. 

Amidst an album release concert at the foot of the Pyramids of Giza, which was canceled last minute, and a short-lived revival of the question regarding Scott’s ethical considerations following the crowd crush at the Astroworld Festival in 2021, Utopia’s release was expected to break the internet— which it arguably did— solidify his status as a true icon within his field, all while offering new material for avid listeners and journalists to argue over, which is also happening as we speak.

While we were indeed keen on sharing our mixed feelings about Utopia, one specific aspect in the project’s conception caught our attention. Believe it or not, in the list of close collaborators of the album, an artist hailing from our side of the world is credited for having co-written a track in the 19-song-long record, adding a glimmer of pride and excitement despite our lukewarm feelings about the string of supposed hits.

When paying attention to Utopia’s fine print, one name ends up standing out, and it belongs to Dua Saleh, an American-Sudanese artist, whose refined skill in songwriting was brought to the forefront by collaborating with Jules Vernon and Sampha to create My Eyes, arguably one of the most captivating tracks on the project.


Touching on a rich range of topics, which span from guilt and regret to remorse, Scott addresses some first-hand thoughts on the passing of eight concert-goers at Astroworld two-years-ago, claiming that he “replay(s) them nights and all (he) see(s) is a sea of people that ride wit’ me,” stating that no one can imagine what he’d do if he was given the opportunity to be able to save just one soul from their fate that night.

To honor the life and achievements of one of our very own being involved in the creative process in one of this year’s most anticipated albums, below, eight facts to know about Saleh. 

They were born in Sudan

Saleh was born on Nov. 3, 1994, in Kassala, a city in South-Eastern Sudan, built on the banks of the Gash River close by the borders with Eritrea. As of today, Saleh is 28-years-old. 

They moved to the US at the age of five

Saleh fled Sudan at the age of five with their family following the Second Sudanese Civil War, which ran all throughout the 1990s. As a result of the country’s political instability, Salah embarked on a long series of relocations, having notably moved to Eritrea, North Dakota, Maine, and Newark, New Jersey, before permanently settling in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her family. 

They’re a graduate artist

Saleh graduated from Augsburg University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and gender, women’s, and sexuality studies. During her time there, Saleh was known for making noise as an upcoming musician as well as a proud activist. They notably led a walkout to protest against the existing school-to-prison pipelines in the United States as well as served as a diligent member of several organizations, which operate on different levels yet all strive for social change including, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, the Pan Afrikan Student Union, and Augsburg’s LGBTQIA Student Services.

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They’re non-binary

Saleh reportedly came out as non-binary in her second year at university and uses they/them pronouns. 

 

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They are Muslim

Saleh identifies as Muslim, although she claims to not be “religious in the institutional sense.”

They’re also an actress

Besides their career in the music industry, Saleh made a name for themselves as an actor first, having notably been cast in Netflix’s coming-of-age hit series Sex Education. Between 2021 and 2023, the Sudanese creative appeared in nine episodes in total, portraying the character of Cal Bowman, a non-binary student at the fictional Moordale Secondary School.

 

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They made an appearance on ‘Colours’ 

Four-years-ago, the singer and songwriter made a first breakthrough in the sonic industry by landing an acoustic gig with Berlin-based minimalist music show Colours. Floating in between different registers and moods, the genre-bending artist managed to spotlight her native homeland all while generating some high numbers in terms of audience engagement and view count.

They released three projects so far

Since the launch of their career, Saleh has released three EPs, namely Nur, released in 2019, ROSETTA the following year, and CROSSOVER in 2021. In between and after each release, the 28-year-old artist has shared several singles with her audience and is yet to have made anything public since the beginning of the new year. 

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