Guest Feature: Samir Abady
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For any readers of Sa’alouni El Nas who live in London or are close to the city, you don’t want to miss seeing Oxford Maqam, an incredibly talented group of vocalists and musicians specializing in 19th and 20th century Arabic music, join together with London’s finest jazz musicians to bring to life the vibrant arrangements of Egypt's 1950s jazz era!
The concert begins in the heady world of tarab as Oxford Maqam perform takht music from the 19th century. For the second half, they 'll be joined on stage by the brilliant orchestra musicians of King's College London and Trinity College London.
Fans of Abdel Halim Hafez will be especially pleased!
You can buy tickets here! And if you do go, please tell me how it is!
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Samir Abady!
Samir is a photographer and photo editor born and based in Queens, New York to Lebanese parents. In and out of his work he’s interested in hidden pockets of culture, identity, and how we navigate urban environments. His work has been part of the American Photography annual, Australia's Head On Photo Festival, and exhibitions at home and abroad. He’s served as a judge for American Photography, the Art Directors Club Annual Awards, and Pictures of the Year International. While at Fast Company he was digital photo editor for News and Creativity verticals, where he occasionally had the opportunity to write about representation in popular media. He is currently a photo editor for The Wall Street Journal. Catch him reading on a bench or missing his stop because of a crossword.
Samir is an incredible photographer and an avid supporter of pushing Arab culture forward in a thoughtful way. And more importantly, he is one of the nicest people I have ever had the opportunity to connect with. Samir is always looking out for his friends and loved ones, and it’s truly an honor to have him here this week sharing some of his go-to music:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
Right now it’s “Grateful” by Black Thought and El Michels Affair. I’m a fan of everything El Michels Affair and the various bands that the members make up, Menahan Street Band, The Dap-Kings, The Arcs, The Mighty Imperials, and Black Thought, well, anything I could say about his lyrical ability and attitude would be an understatement. This song has a groove, it goes hard, and has no hook, it just hits the ground running. It has everything I loved about the late MF DOOM (see: “Rhinestone Cowboy” with Madlib as Madvillain).
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
I know, I know, I know everyone says this, but “Kifak Inta” by Fairuz! I grew up in a Lebanese household and my parents weren’t able to go back for about two decades, so needless to say I heard Fairuz and identified, to the extent that I was able, with her music and stories. What’s not to love? She pulls on the heartstrings! But also “I Only Have Eyes For You” by The Flamingos. It’s a very dreamy, doo-wop love song. I first heard it during a period where I was driven to find the songs that were sampled in songs that I liked, in this case The Fugees’ “Zealots." But I really heard it from start to finish recently-ish, my partner and I listen to music while we cook dinner and this one makes us stop and dance in the kitchen every time.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Being a diaspora kid, being the youngest of seven and nine years, I think that home has a different definition for everyone I grew up with. Home, in all its warm and fuzzy feelings, for me is defined by Queens, NYC summers, looking forward to it getting even hotter, reflecting on when we used to blast “Fight For Your Right” by The Beastie Boys, roaming the streets listening to J Dilla’s Donuts or “Far From Right” by Habibi or “That’s Love” by Oddisee.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
I’m a Queens kid and the youngest of two older brothers, so that means there's a whole lot of influence around me. I think it comes down to The Beastie Boys, they're baked into my head. I’d play “Get It Together” by The Beastie Boys [feat. Q-Tip] on loop as I used to look through my brother's CDs.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
This can go in so many directions! Going to hang out with some friends? The Greenhornes’ “Wake Me, Shake Me,” I dig the unpretentious garage sound. Hitting the streets to take some pictures? Something raw and in your face like The Stooges’ “Loose.” Going into a situation you know is going to be tough? Anything off of Wu-Tang’s 36 Chambers, but especially "Bring da Ruckus." Everyone on the song is confronting, RZA’s production is dark and cinematic, a recipe to get hype.
Big shout out to Samir for joining and sharing his song selections! All of Samir’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Be sure to follow Samir on Twitter and Instagram and keep up with all of his amazing work!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
El3aba - Xena Elshazlii & Hala Sherif
YAMEEN - ILARIA
EMSHI - ZIAD ZAZA
Washwesh Elwadaa - Dina El Wedidi
sahl atkhala - Illiam
Tbool - Satti
Stawa - Ghaliaa
Men Zaman - 404 Band
El Barra - Tati G13
Sa7a - NASTYSH!!T
Jordan Cypher - Big Hass featuring Emsallem, The Synaptik, Shouly, El Faouri, Mahasneh, SalehMusic, Almukhtar, Satti, El Far3i, and Mazz
Shafra - R3
Why U Crying - Loun
Lesa Mkmlen - G. Oka
HAITY - ISSAM
Câlin - Lynda featuring Soolking
Tayrine - L’wew
Tenez-les - Lyna Mahyem
amnezia - Hatik
Chabakro - Salma Rachid featuring Hamid El Kasri
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
La Receta - Tego Calderón
Pa que me cu - Farina featuring Brray
Zendaya - Cardellino
Romántica Champeta - Bomba Estéreo featuring Kevin Florez and The Busy Twist
RDV - Drea Dury featuring Squidji
Flexa - Sessi
Lakou - Tafa Mi-Soleil
Aunque No Estas - La Cassandra
Malas Decisiones - Maka
Paz - Morad featuring Nicki Nicole
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Charm - Rema
No More Lies - Thundercat featuring Tame Impala
Blades - Arlo Parks
NO INTENTION - SBTRKT featuring LEILAH
Rich Girl - Louchie Lou featuring Michie One
Your Love - Future Utopia featuring Biig Piig
Eve Gene - KIRBY featuring Rapsody
Runnin’ - Mani Draper & Steven King featuring ODaye
Dala Dala - DreyGon
WHAT A DAY - Tyler, The Creator
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Judge investigating Lebanon’s central bank chief is ousted from office - Raya Jalabi, Financial Times
Ghada Aoun dismissed amid multiple corruption probes against country’s political and financial elite.
'Like playing the lottery': Livelihoods of Lebanese farmers at risk due to water scarcity - Nada Homsi, The National
In eastern Lebanon's Qab Elias, crops live and die by the availability of water from a mountain spring but experts say greater stability is possible.
The Other Side of the Shadow: Lebanese writer Rachid el-Daif turns to fairytales - AJ Naddaf, Middle East Eye
A power-hungry king tries to hunt down his absconded queen in the author's latest novel, an escape from the reality of life in Lebanon.
Syrian refugees fearful as Lebanon steps up deportations - Abby Sewell and Kareem Chehayeb, Associated Press
Lebanese officials are cracking down on Syrian refugees against the backdrop of a worsening economic crisis and political stalemate, an escalation that has caused a panic among Syrians in the country.
Lebanon’s young shisha smokers: A generation waiting for a job, a visa, ‘a miracle’ - Ghadir Hamadi, L’Orient Today
In Lebanon, an entire generation of youth is finding solace in shisha. For a few hours a day, they smoke and forget about the hard times, while waiting for something to happen.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
‘A deadly trip’: Sudanese refugees find little welcome at Egyptian border - Ruth Michaelson, The Guardian
People fleeing fighting in Khartoum left waiting for days at sparsely staffed crossing after costly and dangerous journeys.
Seif Kousmate’s unsettling pictures of disappearing oases - Christian House, Financial Times
To portray the shortage of water in his native Morocco, the photographer subjects his prints to heat, scarring and damage.
Historians tell the story of Boston’s Little Syria, which was home to a thriving Arab American community - Yvonne Abraham, The Boston Globe
Until recently, Little Syria’s glory days existed mostly in the memories of those who lived there, and in the stories handed down to their children. But two historians have produced a deeply researched and beautifully vivid history of the community.
How Yemeni food found home on a South Korean resort island - Shahla Omar, The New Arab
In 2018, hundreds of Yemenis fleeing war sought refuge in an unlikely location. Five years later, Jeju Island’s two Yemeni restaurants stand as testaments to their journey.
Where football and politics mix: Chile's 'Palestino' football club - Axl Hernandez, Agence France-Presse
Hundreds of fans have come out to support their team, the Palestinian Sports Club -- a professional football club which plays in the green, black, red and white colors of the Palestinian flag.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Intibint on Embracing Vulnerability in Her Creative Process - Lana Mawlood, SceneNoise
Self-producing and taking a year-long hiatus from releasing has helped Intibint to approach her themes of love, diasporic unease and acceptance on her own terms.
‘We’re just taking space.’ How Arabic music is breaking through to new audiences - Deema Zein and Yasmeen Sami Alamiri, PBS NewsHour
Shameless plug! Had the chance to talk to PBS NewsHour about the global rise of Arabic music!
In Mexico City, Club Kids Take the Stage - Suleman Anaya, The New York Times
How a group of underground queer artists came together to create a new kind of opera.
The Gift of Slam Poetry - Joshua Bennett, The Nation
A short history of a misunderstood literary genre and the world it created.
Piecing together the story of my father, the Black cowboy-musician Jimmy Holiday - Harmony Holiday, Los Angeles Times
“I grew up knowing that anything you create that becomes too famous is no longer yours, even your father and especially his music.”
📚 Other Reads 📚
A proposed community plan has enormous implications for the future of the L.A. fashion industry — and labor rights activists are working to make sure the district and its 20,000 workers are top of mind.
Some libraries are now facing an existential threat: They could lose their public funding over books deemed inappropriate for young readers.
This teen wants to be Uganda’s first MLB player. His coach and family are using TikTok to get him there - Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times
Orphaned at a young age and living in poverty and despair, Dennis Kasumba has found purpose in pursuing his dream to become Uganda’s first MLB player.
In Search of My Long Lost Father: The Crown Prince of Chinatown - Ava Chin, LitHub
Ava Chin on growing up without knowing half your family.
“F--k Waystar”: Hollywood Writers Take to the Picket Lines - Natalie Jarvey and Joy Press, Vanity Fair
Writers Guild members were buoyant and fiery on the first day of the 2023 writers strike—but things may get a lot harder before they get better.