Guest Feature: psi.ko
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Lebanon truly had a banner week this week. First, the lira hit another record low, as it now hits 50,000LL to $1.
There were more embarrassing shenanigans with the presidential election.
And families of the victims of the Beirut blast in 2020 were harassed, arrested, and interrogated by the Lebanese state.
What a shame and what an embarrassment that this is where we are. It’s beyond heartbreaking. None of the political class or elected officials are taking anything seriously — not that they ever have. People are left to fend for themselves in this collapse and chaos. And it often feels like nobody cares anymore, be it the government or the global community or whoever.
I know I sound like a broken record saying the same things about Lebanon over and over again, but I truly don’t know what else to say at this point.
Thanks, friends. I do want to get into something a bit fun because our guest feature this week is dope. I am so excited to introduce: psi.ko!
psi.ko is a fervent, realist lyricist of Iraqi heritage, born in Paris, and raised in the mayhem of inner-city London.
A hip-hop artist, beatboxer, songwriter, and producer, she is a by-product of diaspora and uses Hip Hop as a medium to express the personal, the political, the “us” and the “other”.
Through her conscious lyricism, she voices frustrations, questions, and findings about the micro and macro status quo. psi.ko remains anonymous, a “nobody writing somebody bars”, concealing her face in a bid to elevate the focus on her art.
While the sub-genre of rap constantly speaks of “me, me, me” psi.ko roots her music in the subject of the “WE”.
Y’all, psi.ko is an absolutely incredible and thoughtful emcee. Truly a lyrical juggernaut with her music — which you all need to check out immediately. And that thoughtfulness naturally carried over into psi.ko’s answers below:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
Very, very rogue but I would say it’s a toss-up between “I Am Somebody” by DIAM’s which is 9 minutes and 8 seconds of pure storytelling lyricism (shoutouts to ze francophone verbalists!) and Warda’s “Haramt Ahebak” because why the hell not. Two very different flavours but yallah what can I say … they’ve been on REPEAT.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
You know what, I won’t lie, I’m not a very feels-y person and the song I’m choosing isn’t because I relate to it in the “I’ve been slighted” sort of way…. Sometimes I just want to act like I’m in a music video and I’ve caught someone doing something scandalous. You can’t go wrong with “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” by the one and only Ms. Whitney Houston. It’s both a PHAT BOP and a reminder that life is going to keep on living. There’s also no way you’re not going to sing “I’m gonna be alright, I’m gonna be okay” like your life doesn’t depend on it.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
My instinct is to go with “Youm Wara Youm” by Samira Said and Cheb Mami. It’s a song that reminds me of my childhood, I remember the music video being quite something for 2002/3. Cheb Mami’s silk red shirt flapping in the wind, the weird white backdrop that are like stairs but not stairs, Samira’s all black leather outfit on that twisty chair …. All very futuristic and whenever I want to make my family laugh I slap it on and sing it horrendously on purpose just to bring some joy to the household.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Ha… there are plenty. On first instinct I’m inclined to say: any tracks produced by Timbaland, there’s a 99% chance I know the lyrics to them (especially the Aaliyah, Magoo, Missy Elliott, Timberlake, Nelly Furtado eras). On second thought I’m going to say its“Terrorist?” by the Iraqi-British legend Lowkey because its available on all streaming platforms but REALLY it’s his “Who said I can’t do Grime”.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
This is another one of those toss-ups … “Drop” by Timbaland and Magoo featuring Fatman Scoop is a certified banger and will get you HYPED. I’ve re-listened to Destiny’s Child’s “Destiny Fulfilled” album recently and it would be crazy not to mention the HEAT they dropped on “Lose My Breath”. Michelle Williams carried that track don’t lie, when her part comes on we’re all singing that “ooooooh” with every ounce of our being. UK funky needs some love and whenever “Migraine Skank” by Gracious K is on you know your day can’t go wrong. Lastly, (I know I’ve over-done it) but tell me one person who has listened to Sajda Obeid and was able to act calm please?!
Big shout out to psi.ko for joining and sharing her song selections! All of psi.ko’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Check out psi.ko on Instagram and check out her music on your preferred streaming platform!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Mujer Cobra - Rita L’Oujdia
Elbaba - 3enba
Lost Woods - HASNA
ZIRYAB CHANT - ILARIA
Liberated - Bea Kadri
Toyour - Rasha Nahas featuring Dina El Wedidi
Roi 2 Cœur - Zaho featuring Indila
Sur Pp - Anas featuring Soolking
Foug 30 - Raja Meziane
Ana - kouz1
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
Poropopompon - Yanel featuring Ñejo y Dalmata
Muñecas - TINI featuring La Joaqui and Steve Aoki
En Verdad - DEVA
I Wish You Roses - Kali Uchis
Yeska - Nio Garcia
Toy a Mil - Nicky Jam
El Joseo - Myke Towers
Piscis - Leslie Shaw
Copacabana (Remix) - Ecko featuring La T y La M
Albaricoque - Brray
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Same Problems? - A$AP Rocky
Players (DJ Saige Remix) - Coi Leray
Emily I’m Sorry - boygenius
Breathe - Laura Roy
Crooks & Crypto - Temz
LIFE LESSONS - Kota the Friend
Contact - Kelela
Weightless - Arlo Parks
WO WO (Remix) - Minz featuring BNXN fka Buju and Blaqbonez
In The Dark - Biig Piig
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Beirut blast protesters say judiciary targets them not officials - Maya Gebeily and Laila Bassam, Reuters
Relatives of those killed in the 2020 Beirut port blast say they have become targets of the judiciary instead of senior officials who have still not been held to account for the huge explosion that devastated Lebanon's capital and killed 220 people.
Lebanese digital nomads: Young, ambitious, global - Ghadir Hamadi, L’Orient Today
L’Orient Today spoke with three Lebanese digital nomads about their new lives working remotely in countries that have what a digital nomad needs to thrive.
Online series portrays life in Lebanon's old Sidon - Reuters
A group of Lebanese men dressed in traditional clothes reenact the old days in Sidon's heritage cafes, using dark comedy to illustrate daily life struggles.
How Lara Chahine directs her lens towards Lebanon’s suffocating beauty standards - Rand Al-Hadethi, AZEEMA
Writer Rand Al-Hadethi digs into Lara Chahine’s latest mixed-media project scrutinising women’s body politics within her home country, Lebabon, and the wider SWANA region, through personal archival imagery and street photography.
With the crisis here to stay, Lebanon’s restaurants dollarize menus - Mohamad El Chamaa, L’Orient Today
Dollar symbols are becoming a familiar sight on menus in Beirut's bars and restaurants. But are they paying their employees in dollars? It depends.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Egypt's economic turmoil squeezes struggling middle class - Bahira Amin, Agence France-Presse
With Egypt's economy in crisis, the currency in freefall and inflation skyrocketing, the poor have been hit hard but the middle class is also teetering on the brink.
Ons Jabeur: ‘I want to create bigger things, to help others from my region’ - Donald McRae, The Guardian
Tunisia’s history-making star is on a mission in Melbourne but remains grounded: ‘I like to smile and laugh with everyone’
Doomed in Gaza: The breast cancer lottery facing Palestinian women - Saher Dirbas, Middle East Eye
An important documentary shows how patients are unable to access life-saving treatment due to Israel’s siege on the besieged territory.
Saved from death at sea, Syrian refugees face deportation - Abby Sewell, Associated Press
“There were 30 people surrounding us with guns and we didn’t know what was going on. All I cared about was not being taken to Syria, because if I’m taken to Syria, I might not come back.”
A story of money, garbage and jobs in Algeria - Nihal Doweib, Raseef22
“The choice was not between two jobs, and which one was better, but between unemployment and work.”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Dusting Off 80s-90s Cassette Tapes, Retracing Arab Music - Farah Desouky, CairoScene
An exploration through the visual memory of Arabic pop music across the 1980s-1990s cassette tape covers.
The Women of South West Asian and North African Electronic Music - Christina Hazboun, Bandcamp
From Iran to Palestine, Lebanon to Tunisia, and all around South West Asia and North Africa, a generation of female producers are redefining the sound of electronic music.
Glorilla Suffers No Fools - Jason Buford, Pitchfork
Get to know one of the most exciting new rappers of the last few years, whose music is an antidote to degenerate male behavior.
Anitta Reflects on Past Year & Finding Joy - Alex Ocho, Remezcla
Remezcla chatted with Anitta about her new collaboration, where she finds joy, the moment things in her life shifted for the better, and what she’s got planned for 2023.
Sped up songs: why are music fans becoming captivated by quick TikTok hits? - Erica Campbell, NME
The recent influx of sped-up remixes intended for TikTok have helped push certain songs to the top of the charts. NME explores the current obsession with this accelerating music trend.
📚 Other Reads 📚
‘Nowhere else to go’: forest communities of Alto Mayo, Peru, at centre of offsetting row - Patrick Greenfield, The Guardian
The Guardian visits the Peruvian Amazon as part of a continuing investigation into forest-based carbon offsetting.
Extremely Hardcore - Zoë Schiffer, Casey Newton, and Alex Heath, New York Magazine and The Verge
Twitter’s staff spent years trying to protect the platform against impulsive ranting billionaires — then one made himself the CEO.
How the San Antonio Spurs Made Texas Safe for Basketball - Michael Hall, Texas Monthly
From the ABA to the NBA, the Spurs electrified a once sleepy city, paved the way for the Mavs’ and Rockets’ success, and won a few games along the way.
Can We Put a Price Tag on Nature? - Manuela Adreoni, The New York Times
Oil is lucrative, protecting the Amazon is not. We visited a community that has to live with the consequences.
A day at the beach: ‘Underwater I felt free from the politics of my existence for the first time’ - Mostafa Rachwani, The Guardian
The Cronulla riots drew an invisible border through Sydney. Though Mostafa Rachwani still feels their echo, the ocean is also a salve.