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Guest Feature: Mena El-Turky
As part of Arab American Heritage Month, I want to share this cool story that my friend Suzanne Gaber did for NowThis News last year. It’s about one of my favorite topics of all time: sampling.
For those who don’t know, sampling in music happens when an artist reuses a portion of another sound recording for their own music. Typically, artists will sample parts of other songs, alter it in some way (they may slow it down or speed it up), and then come up with a beat and a melody for their own song based on the sample. A cool resource to check out for samples in music is whosampled.com.
In her story, Suzanne looked at how Arab culture has influenced Western pop music, and how Western artists and producers have sampled — in some cases outright stole — Arabic songs for their own music. I had the honor of being part of this story too, it was a lot of fun and I hope you all enjoy it!
Okay, y’all, let’s get right into it. I am really excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Mena El-Turky!
Mena is an Egyptian American woman living in Washington, DC. She is an international public health advocate and storyteller. She is the creator of The Naseeb Diaries, an Instagram platform which aims to document the lives of Muslim women, practicing or non-practicing, through storytelling. For fun, Mena dabbles in dance, tabla and poetry and is always trying to learn more than one language at the same time. And of course, she loves spending time with family and friends.
The platform Mena created on Instagram is incredibly important and truly empowering. Anything that centers storytelling in this thoughtful way hits different. But I’ll be real, as much as I love what Mena is doing with The Naseeb Diaries, I am even more excited about her go-to songs because they are truly *chef’s kiss:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
“Particula” by Major Lazer (featuring Jidenna, DJ Maphorisa, Nasty C, Ice Prince, and Patoranking). Jidenna was the last concert I went to before the pandemic and I am re-living those moments by listening to his music. I also cannot get enough of “Save Your Tears” by The Weekend.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
“Zina” by Babylone. I only really understand a few words of this song, but I find it very soothing. If I am ever in my feels or if I want to be in my feels I listen to this song. Close second is one of my all time “in your feels” favorites, “Aicha” by Cheb Khaled!
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
“Tamally Maak” by Amr Diab. Any 90s Amr Diab song takes me back to a feeling of home. Every summer Amr Diab released a new album and it would be all we listened to for our 2-3 month trips to Egypt. (“I Want it That Way” by Backstreet Boys def takes me back to growing up in suburban Pennsylvania!!)
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
“Like a Prayer” by Madonna. This question was difficult because I am terrible with lyrics - its almost embarrassing. I had to test myself, so I played a few songs to see if I knew all the lyrics - and this song was the winner. (Some of the other contenders included “Ride Wit Me” by Nelly and “Gettin' Jiggy Wit It” by Will Smith).
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“Girl Like Me” by Shakira and Black Eyed Peas. I could put almost any song here because I can dance to anything at anytime in any place - so I'll give this spot to my favorite of all time, Shakira. Shakira is significant since she was one of the first positive representations of my culture in mainstream media (even if it was a stretch hehe) - Her belly dancing at the Super Bowl is one of my favorite moments, ever.
Big shout out to Mena for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Mena’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And definitely follow her on Twitter and follow The Naseeb Diaries on Instagram!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Charleston - SoulJa
Sabab 3lach - Izi feauting 7ari
The Code - Alewya featuring Moses Boyd
Searching - ABIR featuring Wafia and Beam
Ech Mazal (Khorafa) - Redstar Radi featuring JenJoon
Waves of Blue - Majid Jordan
For The Love Of The Cool - Layal
Al Asmar L’jebni - Hajja Hamdaouia
slip - anees
Qyood - Almas
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
Otra Noche Sin Ti - J Balvin featuring Khalid
Setas y Ceros - La Doña
Estamos Solo - Prznt
La Carretera - Julio Iglesias
Amor en Coma - Manuel Turizo featuring Maluma
Te Quiero Hablar - Chago featuring Ángela González
Sobrenatural - Fez Altuzar
Siempre Supe - LA LOU
Ella (Umbrella) - Mi$HRNZ
Viendo el Techo - Jay Wheeler
🎼 Other Music 🎼
Street Guide (Part 01) - ONEFOUR
Space - AUDREY NUNA
Easy Lover - Philip Bailey featuring Phil Collins
MOSLADO - Teni
Steelo - 702 featuring Missy Elliott
My Place - Nelly featuring Jaheim
Baajo - Kwesi Arthur featuring Joey
When My Train Pulls In (Acoustic) - Gary Clark Jr.
Sky Is Crying - ZHU featuring Yuna
Friday - RITON & Nightcrawlers featuring Mufasa and Hypeman
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
‘I feel like a bad parent’: Beirutis adapt their shopping practices to a new economic reality - Rana Tabbara, L’Orient Today
As Lebanon’s currency collapses, prices are rising and goods shortages are rife, leading residents to adjust their lifestyles to a new set of circumstances.
'A space to listen': Lebanese tackle crisis on Clubhouse - Hashem Osseiran, Agence France-Presse
Lebanese users say Clubhouse is offering them a space for more constructive debate than other social media.
Lebanon: Refugees, Migrants Left Behind in Vaccine Rollout - Human Rights Watch
Despite the government’s promises of an equitable program, the effort has been tainted by political interference and a lack of information.
Workers' Solidarity, Redistribution, and Universal Social Protections... Slogans of a Struggle Against Engineered Losses - Christina Cavalcanti, The Public Source
Christina Cavalcanti spoke with Nabil Abdo, Senior Policy Advisor for Oxfam in the Middle East and North Africa, to discuss the roots of economic inequality, Lebanon’s post-war political economy, the economic and health impacts of the pandemic — particularly on women, migrant communities, and refugees — and social protection programs in Lebanon.
Lebanon: supermarkets become focal point in battle for survival - Sunniva Rose, The National
Shoppers tussle for subsidized goods as inflation drives middle class into poverty.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
"The Arab American community is a historically understudied group because it has no identifiers, so Covid-19 exposed the invisibility of the group rather than created it."
Viva Brother Nagi - Suzanne Gaber, Kerning Cultures
Nagi Daifallah was a young farm worker from Yemen who moved to California in the early 1970s, when he was just 20 years old. He went on to become one of the organizers of the influential 1973 grape strike in California, led by Cesar Chavez.
Home Accents - Hadil Ghoneim, The Sultan’s Seal
“Unlike the child I was, I now find comfort in thinking of all homes as temporary. I find solace in the portable and the intangible, and I don’t let myself grow attached to any house. That way I can still pretend I’m inhabiting both homes at once: the one I left, and the one that I am still making.”
Ten Years a Prisoner in Bahrain - Zaynab Al Khawaja, Newlines Magazine
My father was arrested and tortured during the Arab Spring. My son has never known him beyond bars.
'We Will Never Break': In Iraq, A Yazidi Women's Choir Keeps Ancient Music Alive - Alice Fordham, NPR
"This folk music, it's also a kind of affiliation of our religion," says Mamou Othman, who studies music as psychotherapy at the University of Dohuk. "There are special songs that only the Yazidis sing."
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Yemeni Rap Music - Alaaddin Al-Shalali, Al Madaniya
“For myself and other young people who love this art form, it is a way of life, a sublime message we use to express ourselves, our experiences, our suffering, hope, present and future”
36 of America’s Best Independent Music Venues on Surviving and What’s Next - Pitchfork Staff, Pitchfork
One year after their stages went dark, live music workers from across the country talk about what makes their spaces so important and how you can help them.
Universal Music Group has announced the launch of Universal Arabic Music (UAM), a newly created label dedicated to discovering, introducing and championing the artists, sounds and rich musical culture of the Middle East & North Africa region to audiences around the world.
How C. Tangana Is Changing the Game - Diego Ortiz, Rolling Stone
An interview with the Madrid-born rapper, whose excellent new album combines contemporary pop with tradition and folklore.
H.E.R. Is A 'Soul Baby' With a Social Conscience - Elizabeth Blair, NPR
2021 is shaping up to be a big year for singer-songwriter H.E.R., who, after winning two Grammy awards in one night, was nominated for an Oscar the morning after.
📚 Other Reads 📚
America Never Wanted the Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses - Caitlin Dickerson, The Atlantic
The U.S. is a diverse nation of immigrants—but it was not intended to be, and its historical biases continue to haunt the present.
Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang - Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker
As mass detentions and surveillance dominate the lives of China’s Uyghurs and Kazakhs, a woman struggles to free herself.
These organizers are fighting to make sure non-English speakers get vaccinated, too - Vanessa Taylor, Mic
"Language access is a standard of practice in ensuring that spaces are inclusive."
The strange journey of ‘cancel,’ from a Black-culture punchline to a White-grievance watchword - Clyde McGrady, The Washington Post
“Cancel” and “woke” are the latest terms to originate in Black culture only to be appropriated into the White mainstream and subsequently thrashed to death.
In the Philippines, Everyone Knows Jordan Clarkson’s Name - Scott Cacciola, The New York Times
Clarkson, who is Filipino-American, is having a career season with the Utah Jazz and drawing a new international fan base to the team.
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