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Guest Feature: Joey Ayoub
A couple of quick shouts!
Calling all Iraqi and Arab musicians, producers, artists, and creatives! Help out my homie Abdulisms! He’s a London based British born Iraqi/Irish freelance creative director and digital content producer. His work explores bridging underground music with themes of ancestral heritage in creative and diasporic community-based projects. Abdulisms is looking for music and projects for possible features in radio shows, mixes and live curation. If you are someone with some cool music or if you know anyone working on something fun, submit your music here and chat with Abdulisms!
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Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Joey Ayoub!
Joey is a writer who grew up in Lebanon. He hosts The Fire These Times podcast, is an editor at Shado Mag and is doing a PhD in Cultural Analysis at the University of Zurich. He currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland.
Y’all, this is THE Joey Ayoub, someone who has dedicated his life and work to advocacy and activism. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t see Joey calling out the Assad regime in Syria for its atrocities, or demanding an end to the shameful and racist “kafala” system in Lebanon (among so much other advocacy he does). What I think I appreciate most about Joey is the thoughtfulness, nuance, and care with which he approaches his advocacy. Those same three attributes shine through in his answers below too:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I've been re-listening to “Hashrab Hashish” by Luka Salam lately because I love it so much.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah” has been my favorite song since I was about 10-11 years old. (Yes, it was Shrek with the John Cale and Rufus Wainwright versions that first introduced me to that song). I have listened to that song in its various covers too many times to count. I still have an old iPod and one of the 'artists' listed is just called “Hallelujah covers”. I'm autistic and I get obsessed with some songs, and Hallelujah is the song I've been obsessed with for over two decades now. I can't explain it.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Probably something by Mashrou' Leila, because I discovered them when I was at AUB (2010-2013). Let's say “Wa Nueid”, although a few of their songs have that effect on me. I had Hamed Sinno on my podcast and I joked that “I knew Mashrou' Leila before you were cool” because of those AUB days (it's true though).
I was at their London concert when they released “Ibn El Leil” in 2015 so that album plus “Raasuk”, which I think came out while I was still at AUB, are pretty meaningful to me. 2015 was when I first left Lebanon to do my studies so I guess watching them live was like seeing a bit of home in London, and that stayed with me.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
This is going to sound really random, but it's a Japanese ballad called “Kokonishika Sakanai Hana” by Kobukuro. I was learning Japanese as a teenager on my own and I partly did so through their songs, as well as songs by Kokia. I haven't picked it up since (inshallah soon), but I still remember the lyrics of that song by heart. It's cheesy af, the title literally means “Flowers that Bloom Nowhere Else”, and I am absolutely not a lovesongs person, but I love that one. I'm actually really bad at remembering song lyrics. Even “Hallelujah”. You'd think that after two decades I'd just memorize it by now. Instead, it's some song in a language I don't even speak. Go figure.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
That's a tough one, I guess I'm too calm a person and rarely even get “hyped” (if old friends are reading this it'll probably make them laugh). That being said, I have a soft spot for anything by Linkin' Park because I am ridiculously millennial and I sometimes relisten to some of the hits. I don't even think it's about the lyrics per se, but rather the teenage rebellion aspect that I associate with those songs. I was one of those kids who were bullied at school and Linkin' Park had that wholesome 'f- this sh-t'. They helped me out in that sense.
This is probably cheating, but I'm really into songs and chants that I associate with causes as well (I wrote a piece for Shado Mag about the Lebanon ones). So I've listened to a lot of Syrian revolutionary chants, various Bella Ciao covers, and recently I've been listening to a few Ukrainian ones like “oh, red viburnum in the meadow” which was also covered by Pink Floyd. When I'm down I sometimes watch some of these clips, especially Syrian protest chants, and I feel more motivated. There's just something about music during difficult times that I resonate with.
Big shout out to Joey for joining and sharing his song selections! All of Joey’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Go check out The Fire These Times podcast, and be sure to follow Joey on Twitter and Instagram!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Shireen - 47 Soul
3eres edhib - Naqqa
A7ibich - Disco Blue
City - Blvxb
S7aba - Jewlz featuring Nada
Mazal Lyam Dor - Hind Ziadi featuring Amine Naami
Roma - Chemsou Freeklane featuring Sanfara
Khalliha - Rajaa Belmir & Omar Belmir
Khod Kashaf - Essam Sasa
Ala Moj Al Bahr - Shkoon
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
El Barco - Nino Freestyle
Siento Que Fermento - Delfi Moore
Florecer - Immasoul
Feliz - Chimbala
Tu Amor - Anmily Brown
La Fosforera - Luis Ovalles
Piensame - Cazzu
Esperanza - Hermanos Gutiérrez
Qué Me Contás - Dímelo Flow featuring Sech, J Balvin, Justin Quiles, and Lenny Taváres
Speaker - Elisama
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Proven - Nina Sultana featuring Rick Ross
2AM - SZA
Royal Lamba - Korra Obidi
Questions - Lily Rayne
Simplicity - June Freedom
All The Smoce - Kent Jamz featuring GoodJoon
Dance With Me - Debelah Morgan
Hot Heavy Summer - Ben Howard featuring Sylvan Esso
Comfort Inn Ending (Freestyle) - Jhené Aiko
Too Bad - King Princess
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Huge scale and impact of Israeli incursions over Lebanon skies revealed - Martin Chulov, The Guardian
Study documents at least 22,000 overflights in past 15 years as well as psychological effect on country.
How to buy dollars in Beirut - Abby Sewell, Rest of World
Goods in Lebanon are often priced in doll but getting access to hard currency is difficult. Many people turn to black market money changers operating on WhatsApp.
Lebanon hospitals forced to turn away sick children amid exodus of health workers - Tala Ramadan, Thomson Reuters Foundation News
An economic crisis is leading large numbers of health workers to quit for better opportunities abroad, forcing medical centres to close departments and turn away the needy.
Love and sex in a Lebanon in crisis: dating apps to the rescue, or not - Lyana Alameddine, L’Orient Today
The economic disaster looks like a chastity belt. While prices are exploding, it is difficult to go out and meet people. And when the morale is low, dating apps could be an outlet to vent for a fleeting moment, before the reality of the country catches up with these young people.
Medicine shortages and expensive treatment: A new crisis for Lebanese cancer patients - Dana Hourany, The New Arab
As Lebanon's local currency becomes more unstable, cancer patients struggle to cover the costs of treatments and find it near impossible to locate their medicines inside local pharmacies.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
The movement behind Harvard Crimson’s BDS endorsement - The Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee, +972 Magazine
The student newspaper’s landmark position follows years of tireless organizing by Palestinians and allies in the face of institutional pushback.
Thinking with Alaa: Alaa’s utopia - Nader Andrawos, Mada Masr
Alaa Abdel-Fattah and his father Seif tried to solve the problem of law by inhabiting a legal world entirely of their own.
'Treated like an animal': Syrian refugee details nightmarish detention in South Korea - Irang Bak, Middle East Eye
The testimony of Amer Fadou fits a pattern reported by other Arab migrants who paint a bleak picture of South Korea's treatment of asylum seekers.
Through war and decay, Libya’s ‘desert pearl’ tries to hold on - Malik Traina, Al Jazeera
Instability in the rest of Libya has effects deep in the desert, finds Al Jazeera’s Malik Traina.
My Amazighitude: On the Indigenous Identity of North Africa - Brahim El Guabli, The Markaz Review
“One cannot defend Amazigh rights to land, language, and culture in their homeland and, in the meantime, be blind to other indigenous peoples’ struggle for similar rights, albeit in dissimilar colonialist contexts.”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
A Composer Breaks Down The Music Theory Behind Kendrick Lamar’nited In Grief” - Vivek Maddala, Stereogum
Kendrick Lamar’s long-awaited new double album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is expansive, dense, and nuanced.
Disney+'s Ms. Marvel has deep NJ cred. A look inside the school that inspired her story - Hannan Adely, NorthJersey.com
Ms. Marvel can walk on air and shoot giant energy "fists." She fights villains in a costume fashioned from a blue burkini accented with a golden lightning bolt. But to the girls at Jersey City's Dr. Ronald McNair Academic High School, here's her real superpower: She makes them feel seen.
Music Politics After the Arab Uprisings (Part 1) - Mohamad-Ali Nayel, Jadaliyya
“In 2011, millions of Arab youth experienced a sort of perceptual shift that jolted us to look beyond the blinders of nationalist identity…This sentiment was captured well by some of our peers who utilized new forms of visual stimuli accompanied with new sounds and acoustics that transformed our Arab sonic experience ever since.”
Marwan Pablo: “I Found Myself in Music” - Shams Hanieh, GQ Middle East
The Alexandrine rapper cultivates the sound of salvation for Egyptian youth.
The debut of 'Omar,' a thoroughly American opera - Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR
Composers Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels have brought a true story to the opera stage: the life of Omar Ibn Said, a Senegalese Muslim scholar who was enslaved and brought to the Carolinas.
📚 Other Reads 📚
How we pronounce Uvalde says a lot about the power of language in mixed communities - Isabella Gomez Sarmiento, NPR
“But how we say Uvalde matters, because it represents a long lineage of how Latinos have been racialized in the U.S. and in South Texas, specifically.”
The Trade That Completed Derrick White—and Maybe the Celtics - Mirin Fader, The Ringer
It’s been a winding path, but Boston’s biggest Finals X factor has finally found a home. The Celtics’ midseason trade rounded out their roster with the ultimate glue guy.
Title 42’s Long Tail of Pain - James Dobbins, The Texas Observer
More than 1.8 million asylum-seekers have been expelled under the pandemic-era statute, which allows the Centers for Disease Control to declare a health crisis and bar immigrants from entering the country.
It’s Been 50 Years. I Am Not ‘Napalm Girl’ Anymore. - Kim Phuc Phan Thi, The New York Times
The surviving people in war photographs, especially the children, must somehow go on. We are not symbols. We are human.
‘Last prayer’: Nigerian church massacre survivors recount ordeal - Ope Adetayo, Al Jazeera
An attack on a church in one of Nigeria’s safest states is dominating conversations about security and government priorities nationwide.