Guest Feature: Parisa Hashempour
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Well, I’ve had some more time on my hands than usual this week. Which means I’ve listened to a lot more music than usual — I didn’t even think that was possible.
So for this edition of the newsletter, in addition to the 10 songs by Latinx and Hispanic artists and the 10 songs by other cool artists, I’m including 20 — that’s right, TWENTY — songs by Middle Eastern, North African, and diaspora artists for this week’s playlist. Plus two extra that aren’t on Spotify (yet) but I couldn’t wait to share.
Check them out, I hope you all enjoy!
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Parisa Hashempour!
Parisa is a British-Iranian freelance journalist and anthropologist. Her academic work looks at beauty cultures and MENA women’s experiences of race in the UK, and she has written for the likes of Insider, Refinery29, Glamour and Fast Company, mostly on social justice issues. Parisa also runs the weekly newsletter, SWANA speaks, where she interviews diasporic South West Asian and North African thinkers, writers and creators living around the world in a conversation on their identity, influences and ideas.
In Parisa’s upcoming newsletter, SWANA speaks, she interviews diasporic South West Asian/ North African thinkers, writers and creators living around the world in a conversation on their identity, influences and ideas.
Y’all, Parisa has done some absolutely incredible writing and reporting. Seriously, you have to check out her stories. On top of that, she started this incredible newsletter highlighting some really cool people in our community — I was fortunate enough and honored to be part of that. So naturally, I had to have Parisa come through Sa’alouni El Nas and share some of her go-to music:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
Right now, I have both “El Keef” by Almas and El Waili and “Liberty Bell” by Fontaines D.C. playing on repeat — I can’t get enough. They’re on both my regular playlist and running playlist (which means they’re on rotation every time I open up Spotify!) I saw Fontaines D.C. performing in Edinburgh last month and the atmosphere was electric. As they’re an Irish post-punk band that talk about ignorant British attitudes towards Ireland and the rise in English nationalism, it was really interesting to see that gig in Scotland amidst the current political climate and increasing conversations around a second independence referendum.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Okay, I have managed to whittle this down to just a few: “Mohabbat” by Arooj Aftab, “Seventeen” by Sharon Van Etten and “Youth” by Daughter, along with a big, emotional shout out to anything composed by Ludovico Einaudi. I found it super hard to pick between them because, although they’re quite different, they all have that same bittersweet / nostalgic / wistful yearning quality that I don’t really know how to name, but which I am sure the Germans have a word for. They’ve got that power to make your eyes mist over for a past you’ve never had or a pain you don’t actually feel. Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley also gives me all the feels. When I hear it, I turn into an angsty teenager all over again.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
It feels like a bit of a betrayal to my dad and his lovingly home-burned Gogoosh CD to not select “Makhlough” or “Gole Bee Goldon” for this question. But the number one song that reminds me of home has to be Nancy Ajram’s classic, “Ah W Noss”. We had a satellite dish at our home in North Wales so we could watch all of the Farsi language channels, and while my friends went home to watch MTV, PMC (Persian Music Channel) was the soundtrack to my childhood. They reeeaaallly loved playing “Ah W Noss” on PMC in the mid-noughties. And my younger sister and I loved shimmying our shoulders and hips along to the music video — we thought Nancy was so cool dancing around her washing line!
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Don’t laugh.. but this has to be “Where is The Love” by Black Eyed Peas. When I was 9-years-old, I printed off the lyrics and sat in a corner by myself at school until I had the whole rap down. I was obsessed with that song! The UK had invaded Iraq and I was getting to that age where you start to notice the mess of the world, other people’s attitudes, and the unfairness of it all, but you don’t yet fully understand it. I think that at that time I must have loved the idea of this social activist anthem so much that I learned it as though it were a manifesto (Lol!) I even asked my parents if they’d buy me a sticker machine so I could print off that black square with the red question mark that Black Eyed Peas stick everywhere in the music video. I wanted to put them around my Welsh hometown — but alas, they didn’t oblige. They did take me to see Black Eyed Peas in Manchester when I turned 13 though. It was the first gig I ever went to!
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“The Renegade” by Friend Within, “Incredible” by M-beat and General Levy and “KILL DEM” by Jamie XX — I swear you feel these songs in your adrenal glands. I dare your newsletter readers to listen to any of them and sit still.
Big shout out to Parisa for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Parisa’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Be sure to follow her on Twitter: @helloitsparisa or Instagram: @helloitsparisa. And subscribe to her newsletter, y’all!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Whatever - Zeina
Salamtek Ya Dmaghy - El Sawareekh
bahr - nour
Halloween - Freek featuring A.L.A.
lost in myself - Dounia
BIKYA! - Soof
Talajat - Autostrad
Guided - Areej
Hbibty Wini - Sanfara
Nayda - Flipperachi featuring Alaa Al Hendi
Marhala - Swani featuring Swish
3adi - In-s
Hasni - Hornet La Frappe
C.H.A.V. - psi.ko
Mala Ena 2 - Mouk
Seddit Libibane - RYM
Malena Leh - Sharmoofers
Zinek - Ghoula
Rowayda - Anas Arabi Katbi
Banda - DADO
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
LLYLM - ROSALÍA
Parcerita - Dahili
Caminos Diferentes - José Biggs featuring Soy Emilia
Klk Maton - Rochy RD featuring Verbo Flow and Yomel El Meloso
DAME - Quevedo featuring Omar Montes
Por el Resto de Tu Vida - Christian Nodal featuring TINI
A Tu Lado - Immasoul
cosquillas - Paula Cendejas featuring Danny Ocean
Que Sera Sera (Acoustic) - Luis Fonsi featuring Hibaj Tawaji
REPROGRAMAR - Vanessa Zamora
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Two Tens - Cordae featuring Anderson .Paak
Martin’s Sofa - Headie One
4leaf clover - King Isis
Bunda - SPINALL featuring Olamide and Kemuel
T’as peur - Aya Nakamura featuring Myke Towers
Ojemba - Phyno featuring Olamide
STRAWBERRY LOUIS VUITTON - VIC MENSA featuring Thundercat and Maeta
Don’t Forget Me - Black Sherif
Dear Reader - Taylor Swift
Do You Like Me? - Daniel Caesar
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Anger soars in Beirut amid standoff over port blast probe - Kareem Chehayeb and Fadi Taweel, Associated Press
Scores of protesters Thursday scuffled with riot police in Beirut as they tried to break into the chief offices of Lebanon’s judiciary, after officials moved to cripple the probe into a massive port explosion that wreaked havoc on the capital city.
Indefinitely Deferred: Dignified Retirement Inaccessible to Most - Layla Yammine, The Public Source
Because the Lebanese state does not provide the necessary assistance in old age, such as comprehensive retirement pensions or access to healthcare, it has long forced older adults to keep working.
Lebanon's recovering drug addicts risk relapse as economic crisis destroys hope - Clément Gibon, Middle East Eye
Lebanese NGOs warn lack of services and an increasingly difficult financial situation are harming recovery efforts.
Could Tarek Bitar be stopped in his tracks again? - Claude Assaf, L’Orient Today
The lead investigator will remain in his post as there are no obvious legal grounds for his removal, but he will not really be able to implement his decisions and conduct the necessary legal proceedings, experts say.
Omar Jamaleddine: From TikTok post to World Cup hopeful - FIBA Asia
Approximately one year and a half (and 105 TikTok posts) later, not only is Omar Jamaleddine a professional basketball player, he's already made his debut as a Lebanon national team player and has a chance to be on the squad that will play in the FIBA Basketball World Cup later this year.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Shakespeare in Yemen: tragedy offers respite from war - AFP correspondents and Shatha Yaish, Agence France-Presse
"We are hungry for these kinds of events," said Heba al-Bakri, watching one of a sold-out run of 10 shows. "Our people are always distressed and exhausted, so we need this kind of entertainment."
Inflation Is So High in Egypt That Eggs Are a Luxury - Vivian Yee, The New York Times
After months of punishing inflation and a plummeting currency, Egyptians are growing louder about the crisis. In exchange for a bailout, the I.M.F. is imposing stern conditions on the government.
Small businesses, big dreams: Iraq's women entrepreneurs - Laure Al-Khoury, Agence France-Presse
"I want to make it a place to support women who want to work in this sector.”
Q&A: Khaled Drareni on a worrying moment for press freedom in Algeria - Mercy Tonnia Orengo, Columbia Journalism Review
Last week, Mercy Tonnia Orengo spoke with Khaled Drareni, a prominent Algerian journalist who has spent time in prison in the country in the past and is now RSF’s representative in North Africa, about Ihsane el-Kadi’s arrest last year and the state of media freedom in Algeria.
Jordanian parents challenge government policy on disabled children - Shifaa al-Kadaa, Raseef22
The “Ibni” campaign is “a wall standing against any violation facing people with disabilities in Jordan”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Artist Spotlight: Maro The Ukrainian-Lebanese Artist Fusing Soul & Pop - Farida Al Shafie, CairoScene
Marwan Daou, aka Maro is a cross-cultural YouTube star whose internet presence and heartfelt love songs have garnered him millions of followers.
How boygenius Became the World’s Most Exciting Supergroup - Angie Martoccio, Rolling Stone
On their own, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus are three accomplished singer-songwriters. Together, they're a one-of-a-kind band powered by friendship, sick books, and sicker songs.
The Complications of David Crosby - Bill Wyman, Vulture
He found disharmony in every aspect of his life except one.
Reyna Tropical: How Fabi Reyna learned to listen to her revolutionary intuition - Felix Contreras and Anamaria Sayre, NPR
Felix Contreras and Anamaria Sayre sit down with Fabi Reyna of Reyna Tropical to talk about the process of trusting yourself, how music saved her life and moving forward after losing her creative collaborator Sumohair.
Countering Colonial and Nationalist Histories: The Ethos of Libyan Poets Fatima ‘Uthman and Fatima Mahmoud - Khaoula Bengezi, Kohl Journal
“What is it to recount and (re)claim alternative histories and other worlds? Can we (re)examine our pasts and (re)imagine other worlds through anticolonial poetry?”
📚 Other Reads 📚
3 California mass shootings force grieving Asian Americans to ask painful questions - Anh Do, Jeong Park, Debbie Truong, Summer Lin, and Cindy Chang, Los Angeles Times
Asian Americans across the country are anguishing over the recent mass shootings, in which older Asian men have allegedly opened fire on other Asians.
Layoff Brain - Anne Helen Petersen, Culture Study
Even if you’ve come to terms with the fundamental irrationality of the stock market, it’s still difficult to fight the feeling that CEOs are willing this recession into existence to create a justifying narrative for layoffs. Not because they necessarily want to save money, or even redirect the company, but to press reset on what they view as out-of-control compensation packages and worker demands.
This restaurant is run by grandmothers. Customers clap for them each night. - Sydney Page, The Washington Post
The menu at the Staten Island restaurant is made by a rotating group of international women, most of whom are matriarchs.
Laid Off in Your Living Room: The Chaos of Remote Job Cuts - Emma Goldberg, The New York Times
Angst rippled across laptop screens this month, with dozens of companies announcing layoffs and finding ways to breed extra chaos in the process.
The Story of a Polish Introvert - Iga Światek, The Players’ Tribune
Nothing can prepare you for winning your first Grand Slam.