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Guest Feature: Matthew Jaber Stiffler
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Real quick: I want to give a shout out to a really cool initiative that a friend of mine recently started.
Hayat Aljowaily, a dear friend and previous illustrious guest of the newsletter, started an incredible organization called Kalam Aflam, a Paris-based association whose mission is to promote emerging Arab artists and build a community of young creatives and/or Arab culture/art enthusiasts. They just launched a month ago, holding an event at Point Ephemere in Paris featuring interactive art installations, short films, musical performances, and DJ sets by Arab artists from around the world.
For more information, check them out here and if you have any questions or want to reach out to Kalam Aflam directly, hit them up at email@example.com.
Big shout out to Hayat and the team at Kalam Aflam!
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Matthew Jaber Stiffler!
Matthew is the Director of the Center for Arab Narratives (CAN), a new national research institution through ACCESS, the largest Arab American community non-profit in the country. Matthew is also the Research & Content Manager at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI. Matthew received his Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 2010, where he serves as a lecturer in Arab and Muslim American Studies. He is a former board member of the Arab American Studies Association and serves on the executive board of Michigan Humanities. He writes about food and identity.
Matthew is a leader in the Arab American diaspora community and works tirelessly to uplift the culture—and I do mean tirelessly. I have immense respect for his work and what he’s done and continues to do for the community. So naturally we had to bring him through the newsletter so he could share some of his go-to music:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
My favorite song from an animated movie. (Don't sleep on Zootopia). I used to sing this with my son when he would get frustrated about losing or not feeling good enough. I now use it on my commute to pump me up and not be afraid of failure in my new director role.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
It's a very uptempo song for an emo go-to, but the lyrics are a gut punch and I've been blasting it at the worst of times for 15 years. The track is on one of my favorite albums of all time.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Home for me is a former steel mill town in western Pennsylvania, and this song captures what it was like to grow up in a city like that during the 80s. Bonus fact, there is a sample of this song in AJR’s Way Less Sad, which was one of my go to feels songs in 2021.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
I memorized this at 10 years old– a prelude to becoming a History major. I saw him perform on the Storm Front tour and I've been a huge fan ever since. Plus, the Middle East gets a lot of shout outs in the song [grimace].
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
This song came out the year I moved to MIchigan and it’s been on regular rotation since. It features a distinctive sample from a Moroccan Chaabi artist.
This was a staple at every high school dance and I still request it at every wedding. Nothing makes me do an embarrassing Dad dance like this song does.
Big shout out to Matthew for joining and sharing his song selections! All of Matthew’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Be sure to follow Matthew on Instagram and Twitter, and check out all of the amazing work at the Center for Arab Narratives by following them on Instagram!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Alcantara - Jul
B7our - Dee
Finek - DYSTINCT
Amantak - Mais Hamdan
Dommage - Douki
Aswat - Fodi featuring WalGz
LkLk - Khayyat featuring Ntitled
Toss & Turn - Yal Solan
Guardiola - Dzel Uzi
Lah Al Qamar - Albaitil Ashwai
FARÄGH - LAÏ
3ACH MA CHAF - Rubio
Chouwafat - Houssainy featuring Mocci and kouz1
Illbealright - Ghita Askari
Ndirou Pause - DJ Sem featuring Amoune Talens
BOCCA - Perrie
Seventeenth - fulana
Headhunters - 4lfa & GAL3Y
Nazelni Hon - Al Aaraj
Marra Tania - NADA
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
Magdalena - Don Omar featuring Maluma
Ocean - Boza featuring Kenia OS
Take It To The Top - Becky G featuring Ayra Starr
Bye Bye - Dro x Yani
DIVA - Mariah Angeliq
Yankee 150 - Feid featuring Yandel and Daddy Yankee
NO AZARA - Dawer x Damper featuring La Dame Blanche
Algo Hermoso Termina - Lunalé
Noche De Copas - Yahaira Plasencia
Pasa_je_ro - Farruko
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Questions - Maeta
Supalife 6gnature - Harley
History - King Sis
Young Money - LZee
Wrong Hands - Emotional Oranges
imagine - Omah Lay featuring Aitch
SCIENTISTS & ENGINEERS - Killer Mike featuring André 3000, Eryn Allen Kane, and Future
Miss Me - Summer Banton
ARE U KIDDING - ARDN featuring femdot.
Higher - Nissi
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanon's crisis deepens as presidential vote collapses - Maya Gebeilly and Lara Bassam, Reuters
“With parliament fractured, analysts say the logjam may now require the type of foreign intervention that has resolved past crises in Lebanon, including the 1989 deal mediated in Saudi Arabia that ended the civil war.”
The Airbnb wave sweeps through Beirut - Guillaume Boudisseau, L’Orient Today
The online rental platform is driving up housing prices in Beirut, with several hundred apartments listed.
British court orders company to compensate some Beirut port blast victims - Bassem Mroue, Associated Press
A British court has ordered a London-based company that delivered the ammonium nitrate that exploded in 2020 at Beirut’s port to pay compensation to some families of the hundreds of victims, Beirut’s Bar Association said Tuesday.
‘The coast is ours! This is a theft!’: Beach privatization provokes protests - Camille Courtat, Angela Khalife, and Manon Mendret, L’Orient Today
A hundred demonstrators took part in a peaceful march in two Batroun localities last week, demanding free public access to the sea.
Lebanon: Safe Haven for Fugitives - Pascale Sawma, Daraj
From Carlos Ghosn to Riad Salemeh, and numerous internationally sanctioned individuals in between, Lebanon seemingly has become a safe haven for people wanted or on the run.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Escape to survive: The saga of two young Iraqi LGBTQ+ men - Emmanuel Haddad, L’Orient Today
This is the story of two young men who endured family harassment and police threats in their home country due to their sexual orientation, ultimately forcing them to flee.
Overcrowded prisons and rising inmate numbers in Morocco: Is there a solution? - Sa’eeda Sharif, Raseef22
Numerous human rights voices have called for an end to arbitrary pretrial detention in Morocco, advocating for alternative punishments to alleviate prison overcrowding, and prevent the destruction of the lives of individuals sentenced to misdemeanors.
As conditions for Syrians worsen, aid organizations struggle to catch the world’s attention again - Kareem Chehayeb, Associated Press
“The kids sometimes go to school without having breakfast. Their teacher would sometimes call me and ask why they didn’t bring a sandwich with them, and I would say it’s because I have nothing in the pantry.”
Sudan's war exacts deadly toll on dialysis patients, leaves bodies rotting - Adam Makary, Reuters
Kidney dialysis patients are dying and dead bodies have been left to decompose in a morgue and in city streets as Sudan's war rages on, despite efforts by volunteers and aid workers to keep critical healthcare running.
'As Palestinian youths, the political process has failed us' - Yousef Eldin, BBC News
Palestinians under the age of 30 have never had a chance to vote in an election and many say they have little faith in the Palestinian leadership.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
New life breathed into Tunisia's bagpipes - Aymen Jamli, Agence France-Presse
Most musical historians agree the mizwad first appeared in Tunisia at the beginning of the 20th century and was confined to working-class suburbs for decades before growing in stature to now be incorporated into other genres, including hip-hop and jazz.
The Fight for Queer Nightlife in an Era of Political Violence - Isabelia Herrera, Pitchfork
Amid rampant anti-trans legislation and attacks on LGBTQ+ communities, venue owners and performers are protecting the sanctity of their spaces—and their lives.
When AI Is Making Music, Where Do the Humans Fit In? - Julia Gray, The Ringer
The Drake and Weeknd song that went viral in April is just the beginning. In a time when ChatGPT is going mainstream and programs are allowing musicians to create once-unimaginable compositions, what’s the value of creativity?
The BLTNM Standard - Menna Shanab, YUNG
"Our approach to collaboration is more organic and family-oriented. Everyone in BLTNM is cognizant of each other’s background and lived experiences."
The Fierce, Flourishing World of Battle Rap - Ben Barzilai, The New York Times
Battle rap is an art form and a sport, as well as an industry that has been slowly growing over the last decade. While there are proving grounds all over the country, New York is its epicenter.
📚 Other Reads 📚
How cars fuel racial inequality - Marin Cogan, Vox
Cars can be a source of freedom. They also drive discrimination.
Workers want to stay remote, prompting an office real estate crisis - Caroline O’Donovan, The Washington Post
A commercial real estate crisis may loom in cities like San Francisco, as brokers confront the impact of remote work and low office occupancy rates.
A movie character, a Mercedes-Benz and a heart transplant — the many stories behind Nike’s longest-tenured Black executive, who helped build Air Jordan
If You Post a Delicious Bagel Sandwich on the Internet, Do You Have to Say Where You Got It? - Katie Notopoulos, GQ
A TikTok hunt for a New York bagel started as a joke beef over “gatekeeping”—and ended as a story about how going viral doesn't always have a happy ending.
Pat Sajak and Vanna White’s ‘Wheel of Fortune’ run almost didn’t happen - Timothy Bella, The Washington Post
The unlikely pair has lasted thousands of episodes and given out hundreds of millions of dollars in prizes. Now Sajak is set to retire after the next season.