Guest Feature: Sleiman Damien
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The WNBA season starts today and this season promises to be extra fun. Brittney Griner is back, the New York Liberty and the Las Vegas Aces hope that their superteams will lead them to the championship.
Shout out to my Washington Mystics—hopefully Elena Della Donne can stay healthy and their new backcourt can help lead the team to some wins.
GO WATCH WOMEN’S SPORTS!
P.S. Game 2 of Boston Celtics-Miami Heat is also on tonight, and hopefully the Celtics get it together this time.
Thank you for reading my sports-themed intro this week!
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Sleiman Damien!
Sleiman is a leading Lebanese music producer and audio engineer based in Dubai. He is known for producing mainstream hits for industry giants the likes of Haifa Wehbe, Georges Wassouf, Nassif Zeytoun, Abeer Nehme, Carole Samaha, Assi Hallani, and many others, while continuously pushing the boundaries of alternative and indie music with cutting edge acts such as Adonis, Dana Hourani, Zef, Rizan Said, Aziz Maraka, and more.
Sleiman is literally a hit-maker. In fact, you can read all about him in Esquire. He’s behind some of the biggest Arab pop and indie hits, and he still has so much up his sleeve. Sleiman works tirelessly to push the culture forward thoughtfully and genuinely. He maintains a nuanced awareness of what it takes to push Arabic music to listeners beyond the region. Sleiman even dedicates some of his time to conduct production workshops for music producers and anyone looking to get into that space.
But above all, Sleiman is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, and it’s always an honor to have a fellow music nerd come through the newsletter:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I’m absolutely obsessed with all of Stromae’s latest releases (and the old material of course), but “Fils de Joie” holds a very special place in my heart right now. It’s a masterclass on how to make good music. Everything from the lyrics to the melody, production and performance is flawless. The music video is a must see as well.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Call me basic, but “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd completely destroys me, builds me back up only to destroy me again and again every single time I listen to it. I’ve been hearing this song since I was a kid and it still has the exact same effect on me.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
This has to be “Ya Mal El Sham”, a Qudud Halabiya Standard famously performed by the late Sabah Fakhri. I spent my last few years in Lebanon mostly in Batroun, one of the most beautiful places on earth. I’m very fond of those days and vividly recall being the happiest I’ve ever been, on the beach, under the stars, with the love of my life and all of our friends, and Zef (who happens to be Sabah’s godson) would play the guitar and sing this song for us. It will always sound like home to me.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Tough one, the lyrics mostly stuck in my head are usually to songs I’ve produced, mainly because of how mindful I try to be when translating their emotional message into music. However, I’ve bumped Marwan Moussa’s “Batal 3alam” so many times I’m pretty sure I’ve memorized every single word of that banger.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Easy one. I’ve been playing “Basha” by Ziad Zaza whenever I want to hype myself up before a meeting or a session since it came out. The beat Ismail Nosrat made absolutely slaps and Zaza goes incredibly hard, as you would expect from the boys.
Big shout out to Sleiman for joining and sharing his song selections! All of Sleiman’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Check out all of Sleiman’s work on his website and follow him on Twitter and Instagram!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
DOPAMINE - Malak
Nicole Saba - Karim Enzo
Mira - OUENZA
Bits of Pieces - Just Leila
Egyptian Wifey - Bayou
Minni w Alay - Reina Khoury
Safrit Beirut - Nurzy
Mia Mia - Bahjat
Star - Smallx
Next Time - The C!rcle featuring Nadine El Roubi
Blak Alien - Blvxb
Netmanelk Kol El Khiir - Stou
Ultra Attack - Afroto featuring Marwan Moussa
Saye2 Souq - Eldab3
maui - anees
Wuhda bel million - Nayomi
Loyalty v. Royalty - Belly featuring Gil Scott-Heron
AWOMMA - The Synaptik
Aicha - Douki featuring Gati
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
WHERE SHE GOES - Bad Bunny
Rola - Sammy * Falsetto
Café - Duo Deleite, Gyanma, & Enyel C featuring Balbi
Tentretiene - RaiNao
La Puerta - YEИDRY
Clavaito - Chanel featuring Abraham Mateo
Se Pam Ou Ye - TROUBLEBOY HITMAKER
Nube Negra - Juan Wauters featuring Y La Bamba
FCK Love - Fenix The Producer featuring Totoy El Frio, Brray, and Akapellah
soso - Ozuna & Omah Lay
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Who He Iz - KAYTRAMINÉ (Aminé & KAYTRANADA)
New Type - Summer Walker featuring Childish Gambino
No Love In Lagos - 1da Banton featuring 255
Stay Away (From Me) - Madison McFerrin
Giddy Up - Jenny Lewis
Daydreaming - NxWorries (Anderson .Paak & Knxlwedge)
Female Plugged In Special - Fumez the Engineer featuring Queen Millz, Cristale, Reemuni, Lavida Loca, Brynn, Blasian Baddie, TeeZandos, and Diana Drill
Too Early - SuperJazzClub
Water My Heart - rum.gold featuring Mereba
Gold! - Trent the HOOLiGAN
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
France issues arrest warrant for Lebanese central bank governor - Kareem Chehayeb, Associated Press
A French investigative judge Tuesday issued an international arrest warrant for Lebanon’s embattled central bank governor after he didn’t show up for questioning in France on corruption charges.
Warm Winter Woes: How Global Warming is Affecting Local Agriculture and Food - Yara El Murr, The Public Source
With less rain, higher temperatures, and mistimed seasons, both the natural world and agriculture is at risk. This means Lebanon’s food security as well as its ecosystems are on the line.
Manousheh, a staple for the salt of the earth - Amanda Haydar, L’Orient Today
This article is part of "Sa7tein," L’Orient Today’s culinary heritage series exploring the stories behind Lebanon’s favorite foods. In this installment, Amanda Haydar delves into the origins of the manousheh, Lebanon’s favorite breakfast staple.
The Mysterious Billionaire who “Saved” Lebanon’s BankMed with an Audi Bank Loan - Hala Nasreddine, Daraj
This investigative report, the second in the Daraj series Shadow Figures, profiles the Jordanian billionaire Ala al-Khawaja, who has become a major investor in Lebanon and the region. The report delves into his business interests, his political relations and suspicions of corruption.
The Godfather of the Hawaiian Shirt: Trace Alfred Shaheen’s Journey From Lebanon to Honolulu - Joe Challita, Vogue Arabia
Alfred Shaheen created a dream, a wanderlust; concocted by skillfully hand-made shirts and impeccably constructed dresses that conjured ocean life and escapades.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
From Syria to Sudan: The nightmare followed me - Alma Hassoun, BBC News
Kareem, who two years ago fled the chaos caused by the civil war in his home country, Syria, has found himself once more in the middle of a battle zone - this time in Sudan.
“I wanted to create an experience where D.C. diners were invited into a Palestinian home for a dinner party.”
Please remember the friend I’ve left behind bars in Egypt - Abdelrahman ElGendy, The Washington Post
“Does the world even remember us, brother?”
Algerian women, caught between an unjust legal system and an unforgiving society - Majida Zaween, Raseef22
"The killing of women is a crime ignored by the law. Silence from all parties is an accomplice to the crime, whether from official public institutions, society or individuals' mentalities and practices. We need a radical solution to eliminate the violence."
My Country Was a Dictatorship Before. This Feels Worse. - Nadia Marzouki, The New York Times
Rather than confront the crises afflicting the country, Kais Saied prefers to rant about loyalty and conspiracy. For Tunisia, it is nothing less than a tragedy.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
The Invisible Work of Mothers in Music - Allison Hussey, Pitchfork
Sharon Van Etten, Rico Nasty, Corin Tucker, and more on how being a touring musician can make the struggles of motherhood that much more intense.
Before TikTok Sounds, HitClips Gave Us 60 Seconds of Pop Perfection - Cervanté Pope, Consequence
A look at the history and legacy of the “micro music system with monster sound”
‘We are a forgotten people’: how rap music processed trauma in Iraq - Dalia Al-Dujaili, The Guardian
In the first of two features exploring Iraqi music 20 years on from the Iraq war, the country’s rappers explain why using a US artform carries such satirical power.
On ‘The Blog Era,’ Resurrecting Rap Media History - Reggie Ugwu, The New York Times
The new podcast from the brothers Eric and Jeff Rosenthal explores what made hip-hop blogs matter — and why they faded away.
What’s the Deal With Adulthood? 25 Years Later, ‘Seinfeld’ Feels Revelatory. - Maya Salam, The New York Times
The show about nothing ended in May 1998. But in an era when priorities are being re-evaluated, the sitcom has taken on new relevance.
📚 Other Reads 📚
At Yego Coffee in Somerville, ‘people who have had ties to Rwanda come here and feel connected through the coffee’ - Ann Trieger Kurland, The Boston Globe
Francois Tuyishime opened the shop in Teele Square in March with his wife, Fatuma, and imports beans from his family farm in the country’s southwest.
Cameras bought with grants to fight crime used to punish residents of public housing - Douglas MacMillan, The Washington Post
Surveillance cameras purchased with federal crime-fighting grants are being used to punish and evict public housing residents, sometimes for minor rule violations, a Washington Post investigation found.
Jason Collins, 10 years after coming out, on LGBTQ+ in sports, the NHL and more - Damon Sayles, The Athletic
Jason Collins’ goal never was to be the center of attention or the topic of discussion. All he wanted was to play basketball. And be comfortable in his own skin.
Title 42 Is Gone, but Not the Conditions Driving Migrants to the U.S. - Miriam Jordan, The New York Times
Economic hardship, climate change, political instability and gang violence will continue to spur emigration from many corners of the world.
Taryn Smith, a 26-year-old TikToker, was in the shower when she had a funny thought: What if she died in a chicken suit? What happened next represents the way we use social media to mourn.