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Guest Feature: Ashley Hefnawy
Guess what today is?
There are so many other things to talk about in light of what’s happening in our world, but Drake is my escapism today. So enjoy that new album, y’all!
All right, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce our guest feature this week: Ashley Hefnawy!
Ashley Hefnawy (artistically known as Myyuh, which means water in Egyptian Arabic) is an interdisciplinary Egyptian American artist who lives in Brooklyn, NY. Ashley's work spans across the fields of music making, DJing, writing, and painting. A writer from the age of 10, Ashley is the author of a newsletter called big habibi energy, which explores metaphysical, divine, and bodily existence. As a DJ, they weave together music from Arab, Southwest Asian, Latin American, and Global House genres together to create unique soundscapes that encourage people to dance. They are the co-founder of HAZA, a collective that hosts dance parties and radio shows which aim to uplift the talents of Arab and African diasporas. As a community events organizer, Ashley works with local and international communities to create meaningful spaces both online and in person for movement, education, and genuine community connection. Creative clients include: Google, Grab, Outlier, Johnson & Johnson, Vans, Omada Health, Coursera, Food52, Taste of Home, Epicurious, and others. You can learn more about Ashley's work here.
Ashley is an empathetic writer and an incredible DJ! I mean the mixes they have, the music they seamlessly weave together — it’s just such a beautiful sonic blend of rhythms. It was a no brainer for me to ask them to share their go-to songs:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I get chills anytime “Bahlam Maak” by Najat Al Saghira so I'll call it one of my favorite songs of the moment. It's so beautiful and timeless, the production quality is just gorgeous. The song is about dreams and her voice really lifts me up into the clouds, I feel like I'm floating every time I listen. Whenever I put this song on I have to drop everything I'm doing to give my attention to it fully.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
I love Jazmine Sullivan's entire discography and turn to it often for all types of moods. I happen to love “Lost One” from her latest album “Heaux Tales” (if you haven't listened I can't recommend it enough, it's so creative and her vocals are incredible on every single track) even though I can't quite relate to the lyrical content of the song, the feeling it gives me is one that I think we can all connect with—one of hoping not to miss out on love, a certain sadness about the way things went.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Any early 2000s Arabic pop music honestly, my mom used to play this music constantly in our house to help keep us connected to our culture. I don't know if others can relate to this experience of growing up as children of Arab immigrants who were just trying to assimilate but also feeling deeply rooted in a culture that wasn't this country... music and food was what kept me connected to my Egyptian identity (and is coincidentally why I work primarily in the music and food fields today now as a DJ and writer). Specifically, “Esma Yalli” and “El Kalam da Kebeer” by Hakim were played almost daily in my childhood home and my mom's car. I somehow still love the songs today though I'm sure a lot of people think Hakim is corny (my taste is generally corny leaning and I'm okay with that).
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Another early 2000s hit in my house growing up was “Ala Eih” by Samira Said. I know all the words and play it in almost all of my live sets lol.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
I recently discovered this song by Ninetoes called “Volar La Pluma (Edit)” and it's been my walk out of the house song for the last week or so. I love the energy and immediately threw it into some of my playlists for upcoming DJ sets. I also love “Dip” by Stefflon Don & Ms Banks.
A major shout out to Ashley for joining and sharing their song selections! All of Ashley’s songs are included in this week’s playlist too, so be sure to take a listen. And please, check out Ashley’s DJ sets sign up for their newsletter — trust me, it is such a welcome email in your inbox. And for all of you in New York City, if you’d like to see Ashley live they’re DJing on Saturday in Harlem! The theme is “Actually” which, in Ashley’s words, is “all about showing up to the space as your most authentic self to connect with others in genuine, kind ways”. RSVP here!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Ha’oud (I Will Return) - Yo-Yo Ma with Mashrou’ Leila and Narcy
Rules - Perrie
Fi Bali - Flipperachi featuring Lil Eazy and Zena Emad
Fadma - TASUTA N-IMAL
Law Konty - Hamid Al Shaeri
El Donia Risha F Hawa - Disco Misr featuring Sherine Abdo
Sidi Rabi - Cheb Tarik
Pluto - Ahmed Basyoni featuring Jaadu
Hadari Hadari - Cheba Lima
Arriba - Nouvo
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
Linda - Tokischa featuring ROSALÍA
María (Pablo Flores Spanglish Radio Edit) - Ricky Martin
Por Siempre Tú - Christina Aguilera
Pepas - Farruko
Toa La Vida - Nicki Nicole featuring Mora
Querer Es Poder - Lennis Rodriguez featuring Maikel Delacalle
Morena - Joutro Mundo
Lloraras - Oscar D’León
Piel Morena - Thalia
La Tambora - Vicente Garcia
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
family ties - Baby Keem featuring Kendrick Lamar
Mood - Wizkid featuring Buju
You Are - Smoko Ono featuring Corinne Bailey Rae and UMI
Boomerang - Yebba
Got To Give It Up - Aaliyah featuring Slick Rick
1995 - IDK
Nothing Else Matters - Phoebe Bridgers
Weekend - Mufasa & Hypeman featuring Dopamine
Run Run - Shenseea
‘Round Midnight - Miles Davis featuring John Coltrane
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
No bread and roses - Sally Abou Aljoud, NOW Lebanon
Lebanese seeking jobs overseas become too often a cheap labor source, as employers take advantage of the devastating economic crisis in the country to offer low pay.
Solar ‘boom’ times as Lebanon’s fossil fuels run dry - Adam Muro, Al Jazeera
With electricity becoming a scarce commodity, thousands of well-off Lebanese rush to alternative energy.
After Devastating 2020 Explosion, Beirut Volunteers Rebuild the City - Lin Nouheid, Bloomberg
With Lebanon in chaos, citizens mounted their own efforts to fix homes and salvage history.
Tales of fumbling in the dark - Julien Ricour-Brasseur, Lyana Alameddine, and Souhayb Jawhar, L’Orient Le Jour
“Services that are taken for granted almost everywhere in the world are on the verge of disappearing in Lebanon…In short, against a background of absurd surrealism unworthy of the 21st century, the country’s tragedies appear to have become inevitable.”
The struggle to stay - Dana Hourany, NOW Lebanon
To remain in Lebanon means untold hardship. But perhaps in some ways, leaving it behind is not much easier. Dana Hourany muses on the internal battle shared by many Lebanese.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Tunisians fret at president's silence on future - Tarek Amara and Angus McDowall, Reuters
“Five weeks after their president seized governing powers and a week after he indefinitely prolonged emergency measures, Tunisians are increasingly puzzled at his silence on the biggest crisis of their democratic era.”
Do not forget Syria’s disappeared - Mariam al-Hallak, Al Jazeera
Syrian families continue to struggle to get information about their loved ones disappeared by the Assad regime.
The Case for Iraqi Reparations - Kaleem Hawa, New York Magazine
“In the case of Iraq, there is little new to be said that has not already been said by Iraqis: All America can do is honor its obligations to truth, justice, and reparation so that Iraqis can live full lives.”
Moroccans in Algeria fear for the future after diplomatic ties severed - Leïla Hammoudi, Middle East Eye
Citizens of Morocco living in Algeria, long feeling at home there, now worry how rift may affect their lives.
Yemen Victims Push for War Crimes Investigation - Stephen Kalin, The Wall Street Journal
Petition to the International Criminal Court aims to uncover abuses in the bloody civil war as the U.S. attempts to exit the conflict.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
“The Truth Doesn’t Recognize Retreat”: The Oral History of System of a Down’s ‘Toxicity’ - Matthew Sigur, The Ringer
In 2001, an Armenian American heavy-metal band conquered the charts despite infighting, a riot, and a ban that kept them off major radio stations following 9/11. Twenty years later, System of a Down and others look back on a career-defining album.
Middle Eastern Writers Ask Hollywood to “Take More Chances on Us” in Open Letter - Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter
The Writers Guild of America West's latest inclusion report found that Middle Eastern screenwriters and TV writers accounted for 0.3 percent of employed scribes in the two fields.
Alrawabi School for Girls: The Rose-Coloured Madness of Netflix’s Jordanian Hit - Bahira Amin, SceneArabia
Bahira Amin takes a deep dive into the show turning the usual depictions of Arab women in media upside-down.
Refugees Are Suffering. This Novelist Won’t Look Away. - Joumana Khatib, The New York Times
Rabih Alameddine writes about topics many would rather forget. In his new book, “The Wrong End of the Telescope,” he tells the story of a transgender doctor attempting to care for people fleeing war-torn Syria.
How Riley Gale, Go-Go Music, and Jet Li Inspired Turnstile’s Glow On - Jenn Pelly, Pitchfork
Frontman Brendan Yates shares the films and friends that influenced his post-hardcore band’s eclectic new album.
📚 Other Reads 📚
For Navajo, crowded homes have always been a lifeline. The pandemic threatens that. - Hailey Sadler and Darian Woehr, The Washington Post
Generations living together is central to how the Navajo have navigated crises for centuries. But the coronavirus has put that in jeopardy: Crowded homes have become one of the deadliest places to be during the pandemic.
‘I Helped Destroy People’ - Janet Reitman, The New York Times Magazine
Terry Albury, an idealistic F.B.I. agent, grew so disillusioned by the war on terror that he was willing to leak classified documents — and go to prison for doing it.
9/11: 20 Years Later - The Washington Post Magazine
“Sept. 11, 2001, was first and foremost a human tragedy, claiming the lives of 2,977 innocent people and leaving, in its wake, incalculable grief. The attack would alter the lives of U.S. troops and their families, and millions of people in Afghanistan and Iraq. It would set the course of political parties and help to decide who would, and who would not, lead our country. In short, 9/11 changed the world in demonstrable, massive and heartbreaking ways. But the ripple effects altered our lives in subtle, often-overlooked ways as well. 23 writers and five artists reflect on less-obvious changes caused by 9/11 in America and the world.”
One by One, My Friends Were Sent to the Camps - Tahir Hamut Izgil, The Atlantic
“If you took an Uber in Washington, D.C., a couple of years ago, there was a chance your driver was one of the greatest living Uyghur poets. Tahir Hamut Izgil shares his firsthand account of one of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crises, and of one family’s survival.”
New Balance Explains the “Secret Sauce” Behind Its Collaborations Strategy - Rob Nowill, HYPEBEAST
How the brand plans on maintaining its position as a “springboard for creatives.”