Guest Feature: Ethnically Ambiguous
Thanks for reading Sa'alouni El Nas! If you haven’t already, please subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Starting the newsletter this week with this tweet for you all:
I have to believe Al Jadeed is doing this in jest — but still!
What a time for Lebanon!
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Anna Hossnieh and Shereen Lani Younes!
Shereen is a queer Syrian-American filmmaker, poet, and artist. She's self-published two poetry collections and her work has been featured at the New York Museum of Modern Art, the European Independent Film Festival, and NoBudge.
Anna is an Iranian-American live comedy/video/podcast producer and writer who has worked on a wide variety of projects incorporating comedians, artists, writers, and musicians along with working with online platforms such as Nerdist, Cracked, Seeso, Earwolf, and more. She currently works for the iHeart Podcast network as a managing executive producer and host. She produces multiple podcasts on iHeart Radio, including The Daily Zeitgeist, The Ron Burgundy Podcast, Las Culturistas, and much more.
Both amazing humans are the co-hosts of the incredible iHeart Radio podcast Ethnically Ambiguous, where they talk about what it’s like to be immigrants and Middle Eastern in the United States. And what a true delight it is to have them both here share some of their go-to music!
1. What is your favorite song right now?
Anna: My favorite song right now is probably James Blake's “Say What You Will” from his recent “Friends That Break Your Heart” album. It's a beautiful song that hits on a lot of interesting ideas and I also love the chorus for it.
Shereen: “Ulayeh” by Sebastián Yatra and Noumane Belaiachi. I've been really into listening to Spanish radio lately because Spanish music is just objectively incredible and it's been a nice way for me to find new music (new, at least, to me). One day, one of the songs I Shazam-ed in my car was by the artist Sebastián Yatra, which led me to listen to more of his songs on Spotify, which led me to listen to this song, "Ulayeh". When I first heard it my ears perked up immediately because I heard beautiful Arabic!? The song features Moroccan singer Nouamane Belaiachi, and I became obsessed. I've always felt that Spanish music and Arabic music are akin to each other and this song just proves that together they sound GOOD.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Anna: I think any and all James Blake has me really in my feelings. His three albums that hit me the most are the self-titled “James Blake”, “The Colour In Anything”, and “Friends That Break Your Heart”.
Shereen: “Sea of Teeth” by Sparklehorse. I have so, so many songs that literally make me weep. It was hard narrowing it down, but this song is one of the songs that is guaranteed to get me in my Feels. It's devastatingly beautiful and there are only 8 lines of lyrics. Pure poetry. It just does something to my insides.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Anna: This is going to be random compared to James Blake but Ludacris' “Move Bitch” reminds me of home. Is that absurd? My brother and I used to listen to it a lot growing up. Really all of Ludacris' work reminds me of home. We would jump around the living room blasting his music and annoying our parents who were truly horrified by all the lyrics. In retrospect, they're pretty intense. But also he's a genius?
Shereen: “Zeidini Ishqan” by Kadim Al Sahir. There are many reasons I love this song. 1) My mom is obsessed with Kadim Al Sahir (which is understandable). 2) The lyrics of this song is a literal poem written by the amazing Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani. Kadim bought Qabbani's entire poetry collection and many of Kadim's songs incorporate Qabbani's poetry, which is just... incredible? This song instantly reminds me of my mom and of Syria. It's so beautiful and intricate (that orchestra, my god) and such a perfect example of how extraordinary Arabic music is.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Anna: I know all the words to System Of A Down's “Chop Suey”. So much so that we did a whole episode of our podcast Ethnically Ambiguous analyzing every lyric in the song. It's a classic for angry children of immigrants who don't know how to deal with all their emotions growing up!
Shereen: “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. Where to start? I'm gonna go with Mr. Brightside from my songs-I-know-all-the-words-to catalogue. It's one of my go-to karaoke songs (along with Linkin Park's "In the End" and Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive"). “Mr. Brightside” in particular has a special place in my heart because my sisters and I danced and screamed every word of it at each other on the dance floor of my sister's wedding.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Anna: “Drunk In Love” by Beyonce is so damn good. It really gets me going. I think that song is a masterpiece. I listen to it when I am getting ready or driving or laying down. It's just a perfect moment of a song.
Shereen: “Strong Enough” by Cher. Need I say more? I am obsessed with all things Cher. Timeless icon and yet so ahead of her time. Strong Enough is one of many Cher songs that just get me GOING. It's so fun to dance to and sing along to, and if you play it as you're getting ready to go out somewhere it just makes you feel good. All ingredients that make it the perfect getting ready song.
Big shout out to Anna and Shereen for joining and sharing their song selections! All of Anna and Shereen’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Be sure to follow Anna on Twitter and Instagram, and follow Shereen on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to Ethnically Ambiguous wherever you listen to podcasts!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Lili Nhari - Zouhair Bahaoui
Ma3 E7terami - Tamer Nafar
Laykoon - Dareen
Ala El Hadi - Moayad featuring Lege-Cy
EVERYDAY - Ntitled featuring Rayan, B-Element, and Kali-B
Khalini - Almas
Mosafer Anta - Hisham Kharma featuring Lena Chamamyan
Khaleeni A2oom ElSobh - 200 Shams featuring Ma-Beyn
Hezzi - Roxane
Akuma Yaw - Flipperachi
Khalini - DJ Hamida featuring Cappuccino
Fi Kul Balad - Clarissa Bitar
3l Fady - Nubi
LA FAILLE - TRIPLEGO featuring Kekra
Lonely - Plylist
3ALA BALI - Malak
Ahlam - Dania
Dodi and Diana - Bayou
Mesh Rah Nerjaa - LAÏ
Chayaf Ch’hal - Flenn
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
Ricota - Mariah Angeliq
Abajito - Lele Pons featuring Guynaa
Tú Y Tú - Los Ángeles Azules featuring Cazzu and Santa Fe Klan
Inhale / Exhale - Sabrina Claudio & Austin Millz
La Reina - Maluma
AGUARDIENTE - Myke Towers
Mbappe (Remix) - Eladio Carrion featuring Future
Arranca - Becky G featuring Omega
Si Me Voy - Cuco featuring The Marías
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Injabulo - Juls featuring S.O.N
Circle Back Around - Jayda G
Jolie Go - Shay
MMM - Meech
Midnight Rose - ELIZA
Since I Have A Lover - 6LACK
2 Bad - Boj
To be honest - Christine and the Queens
Home For My Heart - ArrDee featuring Cat Burns
Island - Miley Cyrus
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanese women are breaking the ‘gender ceiling’ - Ghadir Hamadi, L’Orient Today
Women in Lebanon are increasingly carving a place for themselves in traditionally male-dominated fields. Sometimes, they say, being a woman plays in their favor.
The Lebanese Rap Scene is a Bright Spot for Creativity - Soha Yassine, GQ Middle East
In the face of devastating losses, the new generation of Lebanese rappers has a firm grasp of what sets them apart.
Computer classes without computers at Lebanon's once-great public university - Nada Maucourant Atallah, The National
Pen and paper only as economic crisis pushes institution with 80,000 students to brink of collapse.
Lebanon leans on US dollar to cope as currency, economy tank - Kareem Chehayeb, Associated Press
The Lebanese pound has lost as much as 98% in value since late 2019, and now most restaurants and many stores are demanding to be paid in dollars.
Faced with economic crisis, Lebanese maestros depart for foreign countries - Nada Ghosn, L’Orient Today
Conductors in Lebanon can no longer find work. But there is hope, provided a clear strategy can be implemented.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Six Palestinians killed in Jenin during second Israeli invasion of the city this year - Mariam Barghouti, Mondoweiss
The Israeli army launched yet another massive military invasion on bastions of Palestinian resistance, this time in two simultaneous raids on Nablus and Jenin.
The fight against anti-black racism in the Maghreb - Basma El Atti, The New Arab
In recent years, Maghrebian societies have shown a readiness to discuss their complex Amazigh and Arab identities. Activists say similar progress needs to be made in recognising anti-black racism and the legacy of slavery in the region.
‘We Belong Here’ - Aymann Ismail, The Atlantic
Documenting Arab American and Muslim American life without stereotypes.
Spy chief’s daughter highlights UN’s tangled relations with Syrian regime - Raya Jalabi, Financial Times
Sanctioned figure’s daughter works for UN agency as quake exposes compromises in aid provision benefiting regime.
Iraqi women still live the legacy of gender-based violence - Ibrahim Al-Marashi, The New Arab
Twenty years after the US invasion of Iraq, the post-2003 state still does not have the capacity to ensure gendered security.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
How Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors Fought Harmoniously - Kyle Buchanan, The New York Times
One’s a big name, and one’s about to be. But to get along on ‘Creed III,’ they had to let go of ego and trust each other to pull no punches.
Peru’s Buh Records Is on a Mission to Rescue Latin America’s Avant-Garde History - Philip Sherburne, Pitchfork
Forging links between Andean folklore and futurist electronic music, the imprint is challenging stale notions of European hegemony.
Women In Puerto Rico Are Ending Urbano’s Boys’ Club For Good - Frances Solá-Santiago, Rolling Stone
A new generation of artists — including Villano Antillano, RaiNao, Paopao, Chesca, and Young Miko — are breaking barriers and demanding to be heard.
From the Warehouse to the world: Chicago and the birth of house music - Rund Abdelfatah, Ramtin Arablouei, Cristina Kim, and Devin Katayama, NPR
For the people who were there when it was invented in small clubs and basement parties in Chicago in the 1980s, house music was a force of nature. Four decades later, its impact is bigger than ever.
‘I was the Spotify of the 1980s!’ The Italian pirate mixtape empire that brought pop to the people - Giorgio Ghiglione, The Guardian
Started from an illegal market stall, Mixed By Erry became Italy’s third biggest record label – until police cracked down. A new film asks whether the founders were heroes or criminals.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Homeless encampments — and the debate over what to do about them — explained - Rachel M. Cohen, Vox
People living in tents has become one of the most urgent issues in American politics.
Why We Never Have Enough Time - Parul Sehgal, The New Yorker
In her new book, Jenny Odell argues that structural forces have commodified our moments, days, and years. Can our lost time be reclaimed?
A gym for your feelings? Emotional support now comes with a membership fee - Rina Raphael, Los Angeles Times
Does the average American need a support group? Social wellness initiatives are catching on in Silicon Valley, the workplace and unexpected sectors — for a price.
Greg Oden’s Long Walk Home - Mirin Fader, The Ringer
Basketball gave Greg Oden everything. Then took it all away. No one would blame the former no. 1 pick for walking away from a game that brought him so much pain, but Oden simply can’t quit basketball. He still, miraculously, loves it. Now he’s back home again in Indiana, searching for purpose on the sidelines at Butler.
These 1 million refugees live in limbo — and fear that the world has forgotten them - Lauren Frayer, NPR
The Rohingya, who fled Myanmar for Bangladesh years ago, feel as if no one pays heed to their plight. Now thousands are risking their lives to flee once more.