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Guest Feature: Menna Shanab
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My heart is with the communities in Palestine and in Memphis this week. Murder and death at the hands of police and occupying forces happen far too routinely and systematically. We must do everything we can to call out the continued injustice against Palestinian and Black communities all the time, not only when it feels convenient.
On a bit of a lighter note — and apologies for the jarring transition here — I’m continuing the trend of doubling the number of songs included in the Middle East, North Africa, and Diaspora section of What I’m Listening To. So I hope you all enjoy the extra music!
And I do want to make sure I shout out my dear friends at Mizna because their Black SWANA issue is now available for pre-order and I highly recommend everyone get a copy! The Black SWANA Issue, guest-edited by Safia Elhillo and produced by an all-Black takeover team, explores the infinitely varied and kaleidoscopic nature of the Black SWANA experience. Check it out!
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Menna Shanab!
Menna is a journalist based in Cairo, but she hasn’t always lived here. In fact, although she is of Egyptian descent, Menna was born and raised in the U.S, living the first 22 years of her life between Queens, New York, and Philadelphia. Menna always had a lifelong penchant for writing. She loves reading and telling stories, and that led to her studying Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania as a way to reconnect with her heritage and culture.
As a child of the diaspora, Menna always felt uprooted and alienated, never comfortable with the thought of assimilating to American culture & merely carrying the hyphenated "Egyptian-American" identity. Through her studies, she dove deep into the intricacies of her ancestors' stories, unraveling bits and pieces of her own history along the way. Menna left her life in the U.S and moved to Egypt three years ago. She’s now there in the heart of it all, watching the beauty and grandeur unfold in front of her every day. Here in Cairo, the city is bustling with talent and creativity.
Menna discovered she could use her craft as a writer to spotlight and give a platform to talented DJs, artists, photographers, painters, directors — you name it. So, she found her voice in the media ecosystem, writing for a handful of cool publications, discovering the richness of the regional creative landscape as she goes along. Menna is currently writing for YUNG and they are highlighting some incredible talents across the Middle East and North Africa who are truly shattering stigmas and trailblazing the creative future of the region. Menna is back doing long-form editorials so look out for the upcoming YUNG Print Edition Pt.II.
Y’all, trust me when I tell you that Menna has an incredible pulse on the scene on Egypt and knows exactly where all of the cool and trendy things are going down. So it’s no surprise that her go-to songs also reflect this:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
There’s a wealth of rap talent bubbling up in Morocco; the country’s youth are developing their own rich soundscape and experimenting with new sounds that reverberate through the region. Raste has one of the sickest flows in the game and I always have him on my radar. He just dropped this track and it’s a vibe.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
To me, this song feels like a late drive through Downtown Cairo, with the windows rolled down, enveloped by a numb yet comforting sadness.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
I discovered this song when I was 13 and it would come to be the soundtrack of the some of my most cherished teenage memories.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
This song is the ultimate feel-good song for me. I’ve sung it countless times on sunny Sunday mornings, setting the mood for the day. I’m a sucker for soulful music and soaring guitar riffs.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
The track is a 100% grime banger with a heavy-hitting bassline and an enigmatic looping sample topped with a hi-hat pattern with bouncy drums making it the ultimate get-hype song.
Big shout out to Menna for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Menna’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Make sure you follow Menna on Instagram and keep up with all of her latest stories for YUNG!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Mesh Hategy - El Sawareekh featuring Abo El Anwar
Fear Nothing - Rhita Nattah
TABA - Idreesi
POINT OF NO RETURN - Lana Lubany
3alli Sawtak - Le Josh featuring Ghaliaa
Pavarotti - Uzu
Xena - Nai Barghouti featuring Skrillex
Mufasa Freestyle - Mosalem
LOW KEY - Koast
Picture - Xena Elshazlii
Sefina - Plylist
Apocalypto - TooDope
Madina - Layal
Farasha - Alsarah featuring Flippter and Sufyvn
Kholes El Haki - Rita Malek
Dageega - Daffy featuring Mohamed AliSalim
Nassaba - Mohamed Ramadan featuring Didine Canon 16
Ma3lbeli - Samara
Ya Balash - Eldab3
Sabe2 - Don Tyson
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
X SI VOLVEMOS - KAROL G featuring Romeo Santos
n la disco - paopao
EL HOMBRE PERFECTO - DannyLux
Papelito (Remix) - El Taiger featuring El Chacal
Frágiles - Danitse
La Fórmula - Maluma featuring Marc Anthony
Qué Agonía - Yuridia featuring Ángela Aguilar
SOS - Jay Wheeler
Tiki Tiki - Ptazeta featuring Lola Indigo
Algo Me Pasa - Vale
¿Qué Hubiera Pasado? - Ela Taubert
ANONIMATO - ARIA VEGA
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Back 2 Back - A9Dbo Fundz featuring A9Ksav and A92
Who We Love - Sam Smith featuring Ed Sheeran
No Miming - Lil Sykes
You Only Love Me - Rita Ora
Been Thinking - Tyla
Aboboyaa - Popcaan featuring Burna Boy
There’s Too Much Of You - Joya Mooi
Butterfly - Lily Meola
Ice Cream Man. - RAYE
Kpe Paso - Wande Coal featuring Olamide
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanon sets new exchange rate, dramatically devalues pound - Kareem Chehayeb, Associated Press
Three years into a crippling financial crisis, Lebanon’s Central Bank on Wednesday set a new exchange rate that effectively devalued the country’s currency by 90% but did little to bridge the gap with the soaring black market rate.
Beirut explosion inquiry in chaos as judges row and suspects released - Martin Chulov, The Guardian
Sudden restart of investigation sets off developments leaving doubts justice for victims will be delivered.
Cash is king in Lebanon as banks atrophy - Maya Gebeily, Reuters
Zombie banks have frozen depositors out of tens of billions of dollars in their accounts, halting basic services and even prompting some customers to hold up tellers at gunpoint to access their money. People and businesses now operate almost exclusively in cash.
In Lebanon, parents are abandoning their children in orphanages - Wendell Steavenson, The Economist
The situation is so dire that they can’t even afford the bus fare to visit.
Ammiq wetland: An oasis of life in the Bekaa Valley - Sally Abou AlJoud, L’Orient Today
For World Wetlands Day, an international holiday observed since 1971, L’Orient Today takes a photographic journey through the winged wildlife of Ammiq reserve, Lebanon’s largest freshwater wetland.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
The myth of the ‘cycle of violence’ - Amjad Iraqi, +972 Magazine
Palestinians spotlight Israeli brutality to demand an end to their oppression; Israelis spotlight Palestinian violence to justify that oppression.
Climate change threatens centuries-old oases in Morocco - Mosa’ab Elshamy, Associated Press
Residents of the oasis of Alnif say they can’t remember a drought this bad: The land is dry. Some wells are empty. Palm groves that date back more than 100 years are barren.
Thoubha: The domestic violence fighter app helping the women of Kuwait - Vittoria Volgare Detaille, The New Arab
Thoubha is the first app of its kind in Kuwait to fight soaring domestic violence crimes by giving women access to a hotline and live chat where they can report emotional, sexual, financial and physical abuse while creating a safety plan.
Baghdad Loses Green Space to Real Estate Boom - Jane Arraf and Yasmine Mosimann, The New York Times
The problem is driving up temperatures in what is already one of the hottest cities in the world, where air-conditioning is a luxury only the rich can afford.
Climate change tests Algeria’s olive farmers' resilience - Nihal Doweib, Raseef22
Olive yields have declined in recent years. Climate change has negatively affected crops, and not one year goes by without the next one being worse.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
G-Salih Cultivates Community and Identity Through his Music - Aaraf Adam, GQ Middle East
The Sudanese rapper is on a mission to cement the Sudani Diasporas' voice through his music.
Major League DJz are Bringing Amapiano to a Global Stage - Sarah Kearns, HYPEBEAST
The identical twin brothers and DJ partners Banele and Bandile Mbere speak on the origins of their sound, ‘New Beginnings’ EP and recent set at Tulum’s Day Zero festival.
Celebrating Ten Years of Cairo-Based Streetwear Brand UNTY - Menna Shanab, YUNG
Menna sat down with founder Omar Mobarek to reflect on UNTY's first decade.
Hockey jerseys have returned to hip-hop - Adam Aziz, Andscape
The ’90s are back. Can the NHL get it right this time?
The Secrets of Pop’s Favorite Mastering Engineer - Justin Curto, Vulture
How to make Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, and Adele sound perfect.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Tyre Nichols remembered as ‘a wonderful son’ who loved skating and sunsets - Victoria Bisset, Hadley Green, and Robert Klemko, The Washington Post
Tyre Nichols was a “gentle soul” who “loved to skateboard. He loved to take pictures. He liked to go see the sunset. And most of all, he loved his mother, and he loved his son,” RowVaughn Wells said of her 29-year-old son.
The Memphis Police Are Not Bystanders to the Death of Tyre Nichols - Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker
By appropriating citizen-made mechanisms for monitoring violence, the police have spun failed reform into a myth of incremental accountability.
The real aim of big tech’s layoffs: bringing workers to heel - Brian Merchant, Los Angeles Times
The tech industry has certainly shown it will go to unsavory lengths to limit worker pay and power.
How WNBA players are helping open doors to Latin American girls - Joe Vardon, The Athletic
“It’s not just about the people around me, but how can I make it better for everyone. Because basketball is global. It’s the return on investment.”
How a Parent’s Experience at Work Impacts Their Kids - Maureen Perry-Jenkins, Harvard Business Review
“Workers who had more autonomy and more-supportive supervisors and coworkers were in turn warmer and more engaged when interacting with their infants.”