Guest Feature: Layal
Thanks for reading Sa'alouni El Nas! If you haven’t already, please subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
So many of you all know I’m a big fan of Kerning Cultures, the Dubai-based podcast company home to many fascinating audio stories.
One of my favorite podcasts that they have is Al Empire. It’s co-hosted by Hebah Fisher & Dana Ballout (previous newsletter guest!), who aren’t afraid to ask intimate, and sometimes uncomfortable, questions to create unfiltered conversations and deeper understandings of their guests’ journey to the top.
Season 3 is now out and I want to make a big plug for everyone to go listen to it immediately! Some guests to expect this season include Mo Amer, Big Hass (another previous newsletter guest!), Majid Al Maskati (of R&B duo Majid Jordan) and many others.
NOW HOW COOL IS THAT?!
Big shout out to the show’s production team: Dana Ballout, Alex Atack, Finbar Anderson, Ban Barkawi, Ahmed Ashour, Monzer El-Hachem, Youssef Douazou, and Deena Sabry.
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Layal!
Layal is a London-based, Egyptian singer/songwriter who aims to bridge the gap between her Egyptian heritage and UK underground influences in hopes to contribute into putting Arabs on the map in a different way and shine a light on the beautiful instruments/poetry/lyricism of the Arab world.
With plays on radios such as BBC Introducing, Balamii, Soho Radio and Reprezent Radio as well as features on platforms like Scene Noise, Complex UK & Earmilk Layal has been making space for herself in the international music scene with performances at Latitude festival & Cairo Jazz Club.
Layal’s message and main topic of conversation is mental health. Her lyrics are set to provoke new feelings for the listeners and to give them more courage to believe in their originality and uncover their authentic selves, especially for women as she wants to be a voice for those who are still learning how to use their words.
Lost In Translation incorporates many genres and feels and it’s Layal’s way to showing us over and over again that she is too diverse to stick to just one genre, the idea of music genres is becoming more & more binary and there are too many beautiful sounds to just stick to one, instead she’d rather have her own unique sound that listeners can recognise straight away.
Okay everyone, I’m going to tell y’all straight up: Layal is one of my favorite artists and one of my favorite people. I’ve been following her music for some time and had been waiting for her to drop this EP, and it does not disappoint! You HAVE to go listen to it—my two favorite songs in particular are “Margaritas y Tobacco” and “Mehwar Diaries” and both are great examples of the different types of genres and styles of music Layal explores throughout the EP. But more importantly, Layal is just an incredibly nice person making incredibly cool art. She cares so much about the music and the culture, and that care and thoughtfulness are innate in her humanity. And this week, it’s a true honor to have her come through to share some songs that are most meaningful to her:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
All of these songs bring out a side of me that like, feelings of resilience & femininity but a very celebrated femininity, it brings out the baddie in me basically haha!
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
This song has so many levels to it, it’s so raw of him & whatever mood I’m in if it comes on I will never skip it, so many moods are incorporated into it.
Raveena is an angel sent to us to remind us to slow down, live in the moment & express love & gratitude to others, the groovy instrumental mixed with her lyrics & vocals are just so cute, makes me jump up & down and happy, i love any song that will make feel giddy & cute hehe.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
This is an absolute timless song and the more you listen to it the better it gets & the older I get the more I can’t believe how sick this collab is, who wouldnt love this song?
Ahh, the nostalgic sounds take me back to being a baby in (now) vintage colourful clothes, with no care in the world, sounds like a much simpler time compared to today, I try to reconnect with baby Layal as much as I can, I want to make her super proud.
This one paints the most relaxing picture for me, watching Aquamarine for either the first time or the 1842366th time and wanting nothing but blue highlights and to be a mermaid, takes a lot of stress off of me listening that song and makes me feel like im at the beach and nervously looking for my crush.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Ah man, there’s something so beautiful about the language of love in Arabic, it’s all so poetic and when I listen to this I feel such immense feelings of love, it just hits so different, I will never stop shouting El Bakht to the top of my lungs while getting ready in my room to go out, another timeless song.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
When it comes to my favourite artists The Weeknd tops the list, his artistry, his vision, his lyricism, his style, he defines a true artist for me and this song gives me a feeling of wanting to reach that unconditional love from someone, with all your flaws.
No matter what day I listen to this song, it feels like its a sunny day and all I want to do is dance and be productive and feel myself while wearing colourful summery clothes, it gets me excited to leave the house.
Big shout out to Layal for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Layal’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Follow Layal on Instagram and go check out her music on your preferred streaming platform—better yet, GO BUY HER EP!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Alter Ego - Sarah Mansour
Météo - Nej
For You - Intibint
Come Down - Roxane
Thabit - Satti
YAKUZA - Didine Canon 16 featuring Mister You
Baghany - Maryam Saleh & Hello Psychaleppo
DROOS - Mehrak
Maradona - Rayan featuring Freek and Intifaya
SHADOW BOXING - TIF
Ya Lali - Noel Kharman
Freestyle (TRANSFORMATION) - 4lfa
Fi Dhalam Elil - Artmasta featuring Aymen Lessigue
Malish - Tamer Nafar & Molotof
Helma - Tagne
Zina - Emkal
Ahlam - Leil featuring Draganov
Dua Lipa - Naps featuring Imen Es
Shayn wa Zayn - Moayad featuring The Synaptik and Ntitled
Debla - Afroto featuring ZIAD ZAZA
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
Capea El Dough - Menor Queen
Cecilia - Juanes featuring Juan Luis Guerra 4.40
DISPARA *** - Nicki Nicole featuring Milo j
Una Perla En San Juan - Ozuna
Fugaz - Marte featuring Costa de Ámbar
Modo Avíon - Sabrina Claudio
Wazap - Yng Lvcas featuring Justin Quiles
Feeling Myself - Monogem
yo que - Corina Smith
Le Va Doler - Grupo Frontera
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
We Don’t Need Another Hero - Tina Turner
Do You Mind? - Adekunle Gold
Kiss Me - Winny
Babyjet - Nnelg
Sometimes Today Seems Like Yesterday - Samara Joy
AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM (Remix) - Beyoncé featuring Kendrick Lamar
Use Me - Diplo featuring Sturgill Simpson and Dove Cameron
All I Need Is You - Kesha
ME FIRST - Kari Faux
It’s Crazy - J Hus
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Judiciary confiscates passports of Lebanon’s central bank chief after French arrest warrant - Bassem Mroue, Associated Press
A Lebanese judge questioned the country’s embattled central bank governor Wednesday and confiscated his Lebanese and French passports following an arrest warrant from France over corruption charges, judicial officials said.
How solar power is keeping Lebanon's lights on - Laure Delacloche, BBC
Rooftop solar panels are offering the promise of a more normal way of living in Lebanon amidst an unsteady electricity supply – for those who can afford it.
‘I live from begging’: Lebanon’s retirees endure cruelest setbacks of economic collapse - Sally Abou AlJoud, L’Orient Today
Amid soaring inflation, scanty pensions and end-of-service indemnities were slashed by Lebanon’s currency devaluation, leaving helpless retirees struggling to make ends meet.
Beirut: Life in the unliveable city - Lina Mounzer, BBC News
Writer Lina Mounzer reveals how the people of her beloved Beirut are coping amid Lebanon's economic crisis.
Lebanese feminists protest after woman harassed over swimsuit - Urooba Jamal, Al Jazeera
Incident renews debate about modesty and women in public spaces under the hashtag #Sidon.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
I’m Black and Palestinian, you scared? - Azmera Hammouri-Davis, Mondoweiss
“I did not learn much about my Palestinian heritage growing up, but a trip to Palestine as an adult exposed me to the beauty of Palestinian culture and the racist realities of life under Israeli occupation.”
Assad’s regime took my father. Normalising relations feels like an attempt to rewrite history - Wafa Mustafa, The Guardian
Last weekend’s Arab League summit will embolden the regime to continue its crimes, including the forced disappearances of hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians.
Sudanese stuck in war zone after U.S. destroyed their passports - Miriam Berger, The Washington Post
The decision angered people left stranded. France also destroyed passports, while staff at the Chinese Embassy moved to return them.
The Throttling of Tunisian Democracy - John Keane, The Nation
Rachid Ghannouchi’s unjust imprisonment is an ominous sign for the enemies of despotism.
Surviving the Iraq War’s Bloodiest Battle: An Iraqi Mother’s Story - Patrice Taddonio, PBS Frontline
“The people who left had money, but we had nothing,” Nidhal Abed, who lived in Fallujah with her family, says in the documentary. “They could afford cars and had places to go outside the city. We didn’t have relatives to go to, so we had to stay and ask for God’s mercy.”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Tina Turner Is Remembered as a Resilient Trailblazer - Michael Levenson and April Rubin, The New York Times
Many said her music and her life story were inspirations as she overcame abuse during her marriage to Ike Turner and emerged as a star on her own.
The goal, the authors say, is to give Palestinian youth characters they can identify with. They also want to teach the next generation in diaspora about their unique culture and history, and help children of all backgrounds understand what it means to be Palestinian.
Workers of the Music World Are Uniting—and Winning - Jail Goldfine, The Nation
Last week, staffers at Bandcamp voted to form a union. It’s the latest sign that a real labor movement is starting to take shape in the music industry.
The Reason People Listen to Sad Songs - Oliver Whang, The New York Times
It’s not because they make us sad but because they help us feel connected, a new study suggests.
Janelle Monáe Is Back From the Future and Ready to Play - Mankaprr Conteh, Rolling Stone
Ahead of her most sumptuous album yet, the superstar goes deep on the evolution that’s made her more nude, more present, and less anxious.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Why do so many Black women die in pregnancy? One reason: Doctors don't take them seriously - Kat Stafford, Associated Press
This story is part one of an AP series examining the health disparities experienced by Black Americans across a lifetime.
Food blogging reminds me of what I'm capable of and how my heritage is my own - Suzanne Nuyen, NPR
“I love to eat, but feeding others is my love language.”
Tinx Explains Why We’re Dating All Wrong - Sheila Yasmin Marikar, The New Yorker
The influencer Christina Najjar, a.k.a. Tinx, discusses modern relationship etiquette and her new book, “The Shift.”
The U.S. Left Them Behind. They Crossed a Jungle to Get Here Anyway. - Julie Turkewitz, The New York Times
For thousands of Afghans, the American withdrawal from Kabul was just the beginning of a long, dangerous search for safety.
The Burning of Nairobi’s Historic Muslim Community - Jaclynn Ashly, New Lines Magazine
How a deadly process of rapid urbanization threatens to erase one of Kenya's unique demographic groups.