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Guest Feature: Karim Zidan
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DJ Casper, the man behind the infamous song “Cha Cha Slide” played at events and parties all around the world, died this week at age 58.
In honor of the Chicago native in his memory, I wanted to share the music video for “Cha Cha Slide” and the legacy DJ Casper left behind.
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Karim Zidan!
Karim Zidan is an Egyptian-Canadian journalist, short story writer, and translator.
Born in Cairo, Egypt, Karim grew up acutely aware of life under military dictatorship, which shaped his identity and determination to pursue journalism. He studied political science and international economic development at the University of Toronto before beginning his career as a sports journalist for VOX Media’s combat sports website BloodyElbow.com. Soon thereafter, he began to focus on the intersection of sports and politics, as well as investigative reporting on authoritarian regimes in Russia, Chechnya, Brazil, and the Middle East.
Karim spent time in Russia between 2014-17, where he visited various regions including St. Petersburg, Moscow, Sochi, Orenburg, and the North Caucasus. While participating as a play-by-play commentator for a Russian combat sports organization, he witnessed the annexation of Crimea, the 2014 financial crash, and arrived in Moscow shortly following the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, all of which added to his depth of knowledge on the Russian Federation.
Today, Karim work has been featured in mainstream outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, ESPN, and The American Prospect, among others. His reporting on Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov was also spotlighted in an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary in 2017 and led to three consecutive nominations for MMA “Journalist of the Year.”
Beyond his journalistic endeavours, Karim is a creative writer who has written numerous short stories set in Egypt. His stories range from magical realism to experimental prose and has appeared in literary journals such as Rusted Radishes and BULL Men’s Fiction. Karim is also an Arabic-English translator who has translated short stories by the likes of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz and Sahar El Mougy.
Karim has done some absolutely incredible reporting, and has written nuanced stories on sports. But what about his musical interests? That was what I wanted to find out about Karim, and he does not disappoint!
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I don't have an individual favorite song right now but I have been listening to Billy Joel’s “The Stranger” vinyl on repeat for the past few weeks. It is as perfect an album as one gets.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
My wife and I selected an acoustic variation of this for our first dance when we got married in 2018. I can still visualize that magical moment whenever I hear the song.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
This is probably my favourite work of classical Egyptian music. It is one of Umm Kulthum's most recognizable works and much of that is due Baligh Hamdy's extraordinary composition.
I've also been listening to the instrumental works of Hany Mehanna, a pioneer of synth music that was popular in Egyptian movies in the 1970s-80s. (I recommend the album “Music for Airplanes”, which is available in vinyl or online)
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Before I became a journalist, I was a DJ. Therefore, I would be remiss not to include at least some electronic music. Let's go with a classic: “One More Time” by Daft Punk (or anything off the Discovery album, for that matter).
Big shout out to Karim for joining and sharing his song selections! All of Karim’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Be sure to follow Karim on Twitter, sign up for his newsletter Sports Politika, and keep up with all of his latest!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Lost Chapter - Madd
Ana Wiyek - Dalia
Heart On Fire (Nari Nari) - Badaro featuring Szaba
MARJANA - 7-Toun
Catalina - Perrie
ROLLERCOASTER - Tamtam
Saffy 7esabha - Phaty
both hands up - Nxdia
2ate3 Rawabet - Dee featuring Zeusaeed
CALLE - Vargas
Sfina - Nada
Ghir Enti - Djalil Palermo featuring Yasmine Ammari
Setohom - Habiba
MAGANEEN - Mosalem
Samira 3 - Scridge featuring Isleym
Nassini - Autostrad
3nd b 3nd - Husayn featuring FL EX
Medicamento - Joujma
Emerald - Clarissa Bitar
La La La - Faouzia
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
Bomzão - IZA featuring Tiwa Savage
QLONA - KAROL G featuring Peso Pluma
Number 9 - Miguel featuring Lil Yachty
Parcera - Gorda featuring Maluma
TRANKY FUNKY - Trueno
Silvia - Sofía Valdés
La Otra - Paty Cantú
BACANA - Salomón Beda
Andaluza - Rvfv featuring David Marley
Infiel - Los Bunkers
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Angel in the Marble - Stormzy
Psychedelic Switch - Carly Rae Jepsen
Make Up Your Mind - Cordae
What’s Poppin - Stefflon Don featuring Bnxn
Peppermint - Tekno
Good Good - Usher featuring Summer Walker and 21 Savage
Pretty Little Thing - Jungle featuring Bas
bad idea right? - Olivia Rodrigo
Kristy - Ruger
happy im - UMI
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
The children of Israel’s 2006 war look back - Ghadir Hamadi, L’Orient Today
Between July and August 2006, Israeli bombs rained across Lebanon. L’Orient Today spoke with four people about their youthful experiences of that war, how it shaped their views of Israel today, and the mark it left on their memories.
Lebanon weary of unrest after deadly shootout - Sarah Dadouch and Suzy Haidamous, The Washington Post
A suburb of Beirut erupted in gunfire Thursday, a day after clashes over an overturned Hezbollah truck left two people dead.
Three years on, Beirut residents remain incensed by the lack of accountability over the Beirut port blast. Targreed Darghouth channels this anger to paint an image of Beirut authentic to its past: conflicted by contradiction and criminal corruption.
The Perfect Scapegoats: A Nationwide Campaign against the LGBTQ+ in Lebanon - Dalal Bezire, Daraj
The popular campaign against the LGBTQ+ community in Lebanon is not a new occurrence. Countless instances of harassing, insulting, beating, isolating, and hiding them from the view of “society and family” have been documented and recorded for everyone to see.
Kuwait and Lebanon move to ban ‘Barbie’ ahead of film’s Mideast release - Nick El Hajj, Associated Press
The film centered upon the anatomically improbable American dolls contains no overt sexuality or references to LGBTQ+ rights. But it seems to have drawn fire because of its sheer flamboyance and broad message of inclusion and gender equality.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Jordan's free speech boundaries tested with satire - Yolande Knell, BBC News
One of the most popular satirical websites in the Arab world has hit back after being banned in Jordan by poking fun at the country's new planned censorship laws.
Thirsty for solutions: Erbil's escalating water crisis amidst rapid urbanization and climate change - Winthrop Rodgers, Raseef22
The water crisis in Erbil intensifies as soaring temperatures plague the region. Residents protest, yet pleas fall on deaf ears. 'Why must we endure this struggle year after year?' asks a local, underscoring the human toll of climate change in Iraq's Kurdistan.
Sudanese woman tells of 'horrible' desert journey after expulsion from Tunisia - Ahmed Elumami, Reuters
"It was just a horrible feeling to walk in the middle of nowhere.”
Atlas Lionesses: The Moroccan soccer revolution and the players inspiring a generation of girls - Alasdair Howorth, CNN
“I want every girl to be able to dream of being famous,” said Illa after the WAFCON. “It is my dream to make an Arabic girl win the Ballon d’Or.”
Syrian baby born under earthquake rubble turns 6 months, happily surrounded by her adopted family - Ghaith Alsayed and Bassem Mroue, Associated Press
A baby girl who was born under the rubble of her family home destroyed by the deadly earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria six months ago is in good health, loves her adopted family and likes to smile even to strangers.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
The year Outkast and Atlanta took over hip-hop - August Brown, Los Angeles Times
Atlanta’s rap scene had been flowering for decades, but, says mixtape king DJ Drama, ‘2003 was the turning point. The city was it, you could feel it.’
‘Critics wanted us to be a one-hit-wonder’: back in Barbie world with Aqua - Angelica Frey, The Guardian
The Scandinavian pop group’s sly, satirical take on Barbie pre-empted the hit film’s own subversion by 26 years. And they’ve noted some similarities…
How Sudan Archives Became the Violin’s Domme - Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker
The musician pursues technical, rather than emotional, manipulation with her instrument. She can coax from it the sounds of an accordion, a drum, or an orchestra.
RZA on the Future of Hip-Hop - Andre Gee, Rolling Stone
The Wu-Tang legend goes deep on being honored by Rihanna and A$AP, the possibility of a new Wu album, and why rap is "at the base of the mountain, not at the top"
How Puerto Rican Gangs Gave Birth to Hip-Hop – This Podcast Tells the Story - Marcos Hassan, Remezcla
“This story is about a bunch of kids who did everything in their power to give others hope. It took a village, but they did it.”
📚 Other Reads 📚
Nearly 100 days in, the WGA isn’t backing down - Laura Weiss, Prism
Along with the striking actors union, the Writers Guild of America has pledged to continue its work stoppage until it reaches a fair deal.
Steph Curry and Tobe Nwigwe’s new rap video is a connection of two stars who haven’t lost the hunger - Marcus Thompson II, The Athletic
For Tobe to pull that alter ego out of Curry? It proved he nailed the assignment. To hear Curry declare he was living a dream spitting Tobe’s lines was a moment in a rap career that’s seen many. Curry was the latest legend to don Tobe’s signature color of his 2022 “moMINTs” album.
Lahaina’s historic and cultural treasures go up in smoke - Timothy Hurley, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
The fire that rampaged through Lahaina on Tuesday delivered a devastating blow to Hawaii’s historical and cultural resources.
My Mom Will Email Me After She Dies - Kate Lindsay, The Atlantic
It’s common now for people to linger as digital ghosts after they die, transforming the nature of loss.
Ecuador, Reeling From a Candidate’s Assassination, Is Forever Changed - Julie Turkewitz and José María León Cabrera, The New York Times
The killing of Fernando Villavicencio marks a grim turning point for a once-tranquil country now awash in violence fueled by drug gangs.