Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Sarah Alaoui
This is going to be extremely random: have you ever wondered why Oreo continues to release new (sometimes really odd) flavors? I stumbled across this story that explained the company’s thought process and marketing behind this strategy and thought it was super interesting.
Anyways, I’ve been trying to find some silver linings to this incredibly challenging and at-times depressing year. One of those things has been time to dig into the Egyptian and Moroccan rap scenes. The rhythms, the instruments, the way that each scene ties in their respective cultures — it’s fascinating how much Egyptian and Moroccan emcees are pushing the genre further in an inspiring and refreshing way.
I’m working on a story that will touch upon these themes more, and hope to have it ready in January to share with everyone. But until then you all should check out these playlists and familiarize yourselves with some of these artists. Click here for Moroccan rap and then click here for Egyptian rap.
Okay friends, let’s get into it. I’m very excited to welcome our final guest feature of 2020: Sarah Alaoui!
Sarah is a D.C.-based public affairs/strategic communications consultant who is currently completing her PhD in Arab public diplomacy at Johns Hopkins SAIS. She is the daughter of Moroccan immigrants, and was raised in the Bay Area. Sarah also runs a virtual monthly book club, Adabiyat, that features literature by writers from the Arab world (all are welcome!)
Another silver lining of 2020 is connecting with people virtually in ways that probably wouldn’t have been possible. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Sarah over Twitter and nerd out with her about music over the last few months:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
During this time of year -- when it's dark at 4 PM and chilly in D.C. -- I get sharp nostalgic pangs for France. I did my Master's in the gray, lovely student city of Lille, and it was some of the best years of my 20s, so during this time of year, I'm usually listening to French music. “Nue” by Clara Luciani is hitting the spot now.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Rhye, Rhye, Rhye! Ever I heard “The Fall” about a decade ago, I fell in love with their beguiling music -- perfect for any and all the feels.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Difficult to choose one, but I would say “Allah ya Moulana” -- especially the version sung by Moroccan legends Nass El Ghiwane. Home is where family is, and though I was born and raised in the U.S., most of my family is in Morocco. This song takes me back there with them and to the rich, complex, stunning heritage and traditions of the country.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
All the 2000s R&B songs. Recently, I was listening to Fat Joe and Ashanti’s “What's Luv” and definitely still remember the lyrics. Those were the good days when you'd call into radio shows to win concert tickets and request your favorite songs.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
My Latin friends will make fun of me, but typically, it's any reggaeton song -- Maluma, Nicky Jam (great Netflix special about his life!), Becky G. Right now, right now, I'm loving this funky song Playa Grande by Bomba Estéreo and Sofi Tukker. Visually, the video is stunning, the colors are vibrant, and the vibe makes me want to jump on a plane to Colombia (post-pandemic, of course!)
Big shout out to Sarah for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Sarah’s songs will be included with this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And give Sarah a follow on Twitter where she’s got cool insight on media, communications, international relations, and the Middle East!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Solo - Sarahba
Some Days - Aya
Mako Gloob - El3ment featuring Abdullah Trill
Ejlod - Queen G
Mahragan Wada3 Ya Donia - Hamo Bika featuring Hassan Shakosh, Ali Qadoura, and Nour El Tot
Trikni Ya Habibi - Bandaly Family
Loyal - Almas
Sweating - Alewya
BEL7AFLI - EL X الاكس featuring ŁOAY
El Madi - Yazan Elsaeed featuring Mr. Choco
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
Que Creías - Selena
Como Antes - Llane
Extasy - Myke Towers
Decisiones - Emig LV featuring Limitless
Karma - Sofi de la Torre
Sabor A Mi - Frankie J
Lento (Remix) - Lauren Jauregui featuring Rauw Alejandro and Tainy
No Scrubs - Dropout featuring Wendy Sarmiento
Solo Por Diversion - Heidy Brown featuring Nicky Love and La Ross Maria
El Amigo - Romeo Santos featuring Julio Iglesias
🎼 Other Music 🎼
Sola - Nina Cobham
Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer - James Blake
Show Out - Kid Cudi featuring Skepta and Pop Smoke
Time - SG Lewis featuring Rhye
take your time - Channel Tres featuring Tinashe
Mine - Alex Isley featuring Jack Dine
Superpower - KIRBY featuring D Smoke
Woza - Sha Sha
Shorty Wanna Be A Thug - Tupac Shakur
Say My Name (Timbaland Remix) - Destiny’s Child featuring Static
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Domestic workers in Lebanon, silent witnesses of a country on the verge of collapse - Caroline Hayek and Soulayma Mardem Bey, L’Orient Today
For many years, domestic workers in Lebanon have had an up-close-and-personal experience with a faulty system that the country’s economic collapse has now laid bare.
Beirut’s blast wrecked their church. This volunteer is racing to rebuild it by Christmas Eve. - Miriam Berger and Nader Durgham, The Washington Post
The initial ordeal of clearing the city’s debris has turned into a daily struggle to reconstruct.
An Innovative Model for Foreign Aid in Lebanon - Aya Majzoub and Sarah Saadoun, Human Rights Watch
Is public-centered aid disbursement possible?
The architect rebuilding families' homes for free - Lina Sinjab and Rachael Thorn, BBC News
Joe Salloum, who says the Lebanese government isn't providing enough help to those who lost their homes, has renovated 22 houses in Karantina, and built a new children's centre.
Why Socio-Spatial Practices Matter to Urban Recovery - Dana Mazraani, Luna Dayekh, and Mona Harb, The Public Source
Socio-spatial practices matter as sites of sociability and social interaction, where children play safely, the elderly socialize, women meet and converse, migrants, refugees and other vulnerable groups hang out and forge communities.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Can Dearborn’s Celebrated Arab-American Food Scene Withstand the Pandemic? - Zahir Janmohamed, Eater Detroit
“If someone asks, I tell them, ‘Don’t open up a new food business in Dearborn,’” New Yasmeen Bakery’s Hussein Siblini says. “Things are too uncertain.”
Yemen is collapsing. That may be its salvation - Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times
Most elsewhere in Yemen, hope is in short supply. But not so in Shabwa.
A COVID Christmas in Palestine - Joseph Gedeon, The Nation
Palestinians have been living under lockdown and curfew for decades. The coronavirus has only added to their troubles.
Inglourious Basterds of Mosul - Rasha Al Aqeeda, Newlines Magazine
It took five hours to watch the 101-minute film and process the emotions that resulted from the realistic portrayal of brutal warfare in Mosul.
'Misery gives us strength': Soolking, the rap voice of young Algeria - Iman Amrani, The Guardian
His tracks have been streamed billions of times, with Liberté becoming an anthem for Algerian freedom. And having been an undocumented migrant, Soolking’s own liberty is hard won.
🎶 Music & Culture 🎶
Dionne Warwick Has Entered the Chat - Sandra E. Garcia, The New York Times
The Grammy-winning singer isn’t afraid to pick a fight on Twitter. But it’s all in good fun.
The Year Fandom Went Underground - Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone
Being a music fan in 2020 was wild in ways that were totally new. From Ariana Grande to Dua Lipa to “WAP,” pop music responded in kind.
Making Revolution Irresistible: How Is Hip-Hop Impacting America's Prison System? - Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden, NPR
As Yo Gotti and Jay-Z work to reform prisons, Noname and Mariame Kaba imagine how hip-hop could help abolish prisons completely.
Mega producer Tainy transformed Latin music—now he’s focused on the rest of the culture - KC Ifeanyi, Fast Company
The producer behind hits for J Balvin, Bad Bunny, and Cardi B is stepping out with his debut EP on his label/entertainment outfit Neon16.
“Just do you!”: iPhone DJ’s unique style is uplifting dancefloors - Ekow Barnes, Mixmag
Ekow Barnes meets the popular Ghanaian party-starter who DJs on a mobile device.
📚 Other Reads 📚
What If You Could Do It All Over? - Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker
The uncanny allure of our unlived lives.
She Stalked Her Daughter’s Killers Across Mexico, One by One - Azam Ahmed, The New York Times
Armed with a handgun, a fake ID card and disguises, Miriam Rodríguez was a one-woman detective squad, defying a system where criminal impunity often prevails.
America’s Most Hated Garment - Amanda Mull, The Atlantic
Not even a pandemic will silence the sweatpants scolds.
Pervasive Surveillance Tactics Have Haunted Muslim Americans For Years - Rowaida Abdelaziz, HuffPost
Decades of discriminatory profiling and government surveillance have eroded trust, vilified Muslim Americans and traumatized a community.
To be Black, Bostonian, and proud - Jeneé Osterheldt, The Boston Globe
There’s a myth that Boston is a white city, but it’s 25 percent Black, twice the percentage of the Black population of America.
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