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Guest Feature: Dana El Masri
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If you’re keeping score at home, Lebanon now officially has no president and is being run by a caretaker government with limited powers.
It remains incredibly unclear when Lebanon might even have another president — Parliament has been unable to convene and agree on a candidate.
We’re now in an unprecedented constitutional crisis, on top of an unprecedented economic collapse, on top of an unprecedented health crisis, on top of many other things.
I think I can speak for all Lebanese and people in Lebanon when I say, I’m so tired of living in “unprecedented” times.
Even if Parliament were to coalesce around a candidate, I’m skeptical that person would really be able to dig Lebanon out of all of these multi-layered crises, much less have the support of the people.
So it remains to be seen what will go down. Until then, we will continue in these unprecedented times.
Thanks for letting me indulge there for a bit. Now, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Dana El Masri!
Dana El Masri is a perfumer, interdisciplinary artist, lecturer, vocalist, and storyteller whose unique perception is inspired by the scents and sounds of our current contemporary landscape as well as her deeply rooted Egyptian-Lebanese cultures and global life experience. She is the owner & creator of Jazmin Saraï, an artisan line of small-batch, unisex perfumes and scented products handmade in Montreal, Canada, since 2014.
Dana has a BA in Communications from Concordia University and has been classically trained at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery.
Dana's work bridges different cultures and media to create multi-sensory and immersive experiences. Focusing on the importance of our sense of smell in social interaction, cultural belonging, and how scents make us feel. Her ultimate goal is to swap the euro-centric lens of perfumery with a multi-faceted, multicultural, flourishing universe of narratives.
She is an award-winning fragrance writer and has been a judge for the Art and Olfaction Awards for several years (2017, 2018, 2020, 2022). She has created scents for artists and brands across mediums, has been an artist in residence at several institutions, including the Arab American National Museum and the IAO and has most recently become a board member at the Institute for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles, CA.
SHEESH! “Interdisciplinary” feels like an understatement, am I right? Dana is out here doing it all, and much like the different variations of her creativity, her go-to songs really span the gamut of genres and artists:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
“Deus É O Amor” by Gal Costa. I love Gal Costa and listen to many of her albums, this just happens to be one of my songs of the moment.
”Happen” by Nick Hakim. Nick Hakim is such a talented musician and his voice is so layered. This is just one song off his new album and the whole album, Cometo, is really awesome. He also has a song called Perfume, which I obviously love, but more so for his vocal range and how sensory and descriptive his lyrics are too. Vertigo is also very much on repeat.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
“River” by Joni Mitchell. Joni was very influential for me as a songwriter, her use of metaphor is astounding, I listen to her when I'm feeling low.
“Succar Ya Bannat” by Khaled Mouzanar from the “Caramel” soundtrack. This song also reminds of me of home, which always gets me in my feels, but this song and film, mean a lot to me and I'm sure many others. It's so lovely, tender and soft - even synesthetic in the words, imagery, smell...
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
This is a tough question to answer because I’ve been an immigrant all my life in that I was born on foreign soil and never lived in my home countries. To that point; I am also half Lebanese/ half Egyptian, so my heart and home will always be in two places.
One song for each country:
”Ana fi intizarak” by Um Kulthoum. Abdel Halim Hafez had a big presence in our lives on more than one level but one of my favourite memories with my Egyptian grandparents is talking music often and watching old Um Kulthoum concerts on TV together. I played them an instrumental version of this song and they both recognized it instantly, and hummed along to it, while also telling me stories about the meaning behind it and the composer (el mula7in) as well.
As for Lebanon, Fairuz is an obvious but true and true choice, it’s hard to pick one (especially one not mentioned in your amazing series) “Sabah wi Masa” by Fairuz. “Sabah wi Masa” is a really chill one, not really that popular but I love how cheeky she is in this one, how honest, as always. Her voice pierces through me like no other. I play her songs often when I miss Lebanon and my family.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
“Why Don't You” by Cleo Sol. She's just so great and uplifting.
“Ana Bashaa' El Bahr” by Nagat Al Saghira. I love her endlessly and I find myself singing this whenever I miss the sea (which is often)
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“Gaga” by Joé Dwèt Filé featuring MHD. I listen to afro-pop and afro-beat in general, whenever I need motivation, or when I daydream about dancing lol. I walk a lot and it's also great for walking!
Big shout out to Dana for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Dana’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Follow Dana on Instagram and Twitter. And be sure to visit Jazmin Saraï to see Dana’s perfumes or explore her personal website where you can discover more of her work!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Aboy Ya Yaba - Azza249
Ghi T9al - Don Bigg featuring Marwan Moussa
BEL 3AKS - Abyusif featuring Lella Fadda
Boleka - Slyver PV featuring G. Oka
ARMANI - Papii
Woman - Marwa Loud
Kol Yom - Maria Joubran
Ksser Essouk - Momo Ryuk featuring Salah Hammadi
Matstghrabesh - Mohammed Saeed
Aghani Mn Al Furat - Mais Harb
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
(Escapándome) de mí - iLe
La Noche - Joe Arroyo
Vista Al Mar - Quevedo
costas de coral - Salomón Beda
ULTRA SOLO (REMIX) - Polimá Westcoast featuring Pailita, Feid, Paloma Mami, and De La Ghetto
LA JOAQUI | MISSION 08 - La Joaqui
Temple - Boza
Marchita - Silvana Estrada
El Sentido - cata rec
My Mind & Me - Selena Gomez
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Casper - Takeoff
Hours in Silence - Drake & 21 Savage
Shirt - SZA
The Juvenile - Ace of Base
Spectre - Radiohead
Ikherubhi - Mpumi Mzobe featuring Villager SA
WHISTLE - Blaqbonez featuring Amaarae and Lojay
Can’t Knock The Hustle (Fool’s Paradise Remix) - Jay-Z featuring Meli’sa Morgan
Die For You - Joji
To Last - Tyla
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanese president steps down with no replacement in sight - Raya Jalabi, Financial Times
Fractious political class unable to agree on a successor to Michel Aoun.
I'm building a life in the UAE that I can't share with my Lebanese family - Fatima Al Mahmoud, The National
“Lebanon's passport crisis means many people, including my mother, are trapped in the country.”
‘Waiting for things to get worse’: Inside the epicenter of Lebanon’s cholera outbreak - Farah-Silvana Kanaan and Mohamed El Chamaa, L’Orient Today
Akkar, Lebanon’s northernmost governorate, has found itself the epicenter of the outbreak, with by far the highest number of cases in the country — 286 as of last Saturday.
Public Education: Thousands of Children Left Behind at the Start of the School Year - Layla Yammine and Christina Cavalcanti, The Public Source
The steep hike in tuition fees is pushing people to migrate en masse from private to public schools, despite the worsening conditions of public schooling. But while tens of thousands of children have been transferring to them for the past three years, public schools have barely been operational.
Decline in freedom of expression during Aoun’s term in office, notes SKeyes - Nada Ghosn, L’Orient Today
A new report on freedom of expression, published by the Samir Kassir Foundation, sheds light on an increase in violations against the media and cultural activities during the presidency of Michel Aoun.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Celebrating Mawlid An-Nabaoui with Stambeli Trance in Tunis - Shreya Parikh, The Markaz Review
On the day that celebrates the birth of the Prophet, stambeli musicians and Tunis residents rejoice together with ritual music and chants, winding their way from Zaouia Sidi Mahrez through Shreya Parikh’s neighborhood of Bab Souika to Place du Tribunal, a square in front of Palais Kheireddine in Hafsia.
Searching for ties to the Middle East in my mother’s old photos - Yasmin Mariam Kloth, Los Angeles Times
“In many ways, we use rituals to tether us to a particular place or a community of people. I see now that my mother’s rituals were her small ways to hold on to what she and my dad left behind before immigrating to the U.S. It was also her way to tether my brother and me — American-born children — to where our family came from.”
Climate change and rising seas threaten Egypt’s breadbasket - Sam Magdy, Associated Press
Situated on Egypt’s northern coast on the Mediterranean, the Nile River Delta is one of the world’s three most vulnerable hot-spots to climate change impacts, including rising sea levels, according to a 2007 report by the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Telling our own stories: How Algeria’s independence empowered its diaspora in France - Donia Ismail, The New Arab
Some feared the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence wouldn’t be a festive occasion for the diaspora in France, but one collective decided to take action by creating a safe space to share stories and celebrate heritage, writes Donia Ismail.
Bahrain’s Shiites hope pope raises human rights during visit - Bassem Mroue, Mariam Fam, and Jon Gambrell, Associated Press
Pope Francis is making the first-ever papal trip to Bahrain this week, sparking calls from the country’s majority Shiite opposition and human rights activists for the pontiff to raise human rights concerns in the small island nation.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Migos’ Takeoff had already changed the sound of hip-hop. He was just getting started on a new chapter - Kenan Draughorne, Los Angeles Times
Early Tuesday morning, Takeoff was fatally shot outside a Houston bowling alley. He was 28.
Before Daddy Yankee became the poster child for radio reggaeton and Don Omar the king of reggaeton romantico, it was Tego Calderón’s socially conscious and hip-hop storytelling that carried the bubbling genre into the mainstream and across international borders.
How does the music industry work? Planet Money started a record label to find out - Erika Beras and Sarah Gonzalez, NPR
Almost 50 years ago, a band made an incredible song about Inflation. Then the song was lost to the dustbin of history. Now, Planet Money is on a mission to make this record a hit.
The enduring legacy of Meek Mill’s ‘Dreams and Nightmares’ - Justin Tinsley, Andscape
Ten years after its release, the album’s intro still has a hold on rap fans.
Inside the weird, wonderful world of Las Vegas Elvis impersonators - Annalisa Quinn, The Boston Globe
There have to be more Elvises per capita in Las Vegas than anywhere else on earth: Elvis singers, Elvis parade leaders, Elvis human selfie props, but most especially, Elvis wedding officiants.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Climate change is forcing Kenyan women to leave their homes behind - Michelle Buky, Sandra Mutuku, Christopher Deane, Emma Howard, and Diyora Shadijanova, gal-dem
Climate migration is changing lives in the Global South. As COP27 opens in Egypt, we spoke to Kenyans experiencing the damages of an exceptional drought.
Who Wears Crop Tops to the Office? - Gina Cherelus, The New York Times
Young employees, many of them new to office jobs, are bringing a wardrobe staple usually reserved for the weekends into the workplace.
How Black Gloves Took Over Cooking Videos - Bettina Makalintal, Eater
Black nitrile gloves have emerged as a calling card of the food content creator class — and a polarizing one, at that.
Home is Where Your Best Friend Is - Mira Jacob, Harper’s Bazaar
Author Mira Jacob explores the grief that overtook her when her best friend moved away after living in the same city for 22 years.
Kyrie Irving and the Fraught History of Our Collective Liberation - Dave Zirin, The Nation
Kyrie’s anti-Semitism isn’t new, but his allies are. And that’s terrifying.