Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Soof
We’ve got a long newsletter today, so buckle up!
In this last week of Arab Heritage Month, and in continuing to highlight awesome organizations and initiatives, we’ve got triple the shout-outs: Dom Tak Podcast, Mizna, and the Canadian Arab Institute!
Dom Tak is an Arabic podcast series presented by the incredible people at Sowt Podcasts that takes deep-dives into the music scenes in the Middle East and North Africa. They’ve got a brand new season (their sixth!) out right now that explores conversations with unique artists in the music scene today. The first episode takes listeners to Egypt with renowned music producer Molotof (one of the best producers, trust me). Do not miss out! Check out season six now and subscribe to Dom Tak wherever you listen to your podcasts! (or click here). Follow them on Twitter too!
The Canadian Arab Institute is a national non-partisan organization that focuses on issues and interests of the Canadian Arab community through research, policy, programming, and community engagement. CAI celebrates and encourages Arab Canadians' participation in all social, political, cultural, and economic aspects of Canadian society. They are an amazing team working so hard for the community in Canada. Check them out on Twitter and Instagram too y’all!
Mizna is a critical platform for contemporary literature, film, art, and cultural production centering the work of Arab and Southwest Asian and North African artists. For more than twenty years, they have been creating a decolonized cultural space to reflect the expansiveness of our community and to foster exchange, examine ideas, and engage audiences in meaningful art. They’ve done an incredible job cultivating a holistic and inclusive culture for our community. And for any writers and artists reading, they are currently seeking submissions for their Black SWANA Issue. Be sure to check out Mizna on Twitter and Instagram!
There are so many other great organizations, companies, initiatives, causes out there that deserve praise and attention. And I’ll do my best to extend this beyond Arab Heritage Month. I do want to leave you all with one last thing, which is this story in CNN about Arabs and Arab Americans feeling excluded in the U.S. census and why being counted as “white” doesn’t reflect our reality. I know I include stories about the census often — it’s an important and nuanced conversation we need to have, both about the inclusion of Arabs and Arab Americans but also what does it even mean to be Arab and the different types of identities within our own community.
Okay friends, let’s go ahead and get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Soof!
Soof is the Egyptian-American multi-disciplinary artist and renaissance man known to most as Seif Hamid. Soof’s musical roots date back to the early days of the Arab hip-hop scene, having co-created the first Egyptian-American hip-hop group The Desert Crew back in the mid 90s. On the musical front, Soof stayed under the radar for most of the early 2000s and 2010s, working behind the scenes and producing and songwriting for other artists. In the early mid 2000s, he co-created and co-ran Fen Magazine, which is now dormant but was one of the first and most comprehensive platforms for Arab artists in the diaspora. Now he’s back at it as a solo artist and producer, having released a handful of hip-hop singles, the acclaimed Jay-Z remix album Jai Hov and an instrumental project called Vibrations since re-emerging in 2020. Fresh off dropping his multi-genre EP Wings, Soof is gearing up to release his debut solo album Dreams In Kufi beginning in May 2022 along with a package of multi-format and multi-sensory art pieces. Soof is based in Los Angeles, CA and promises to bring a unique style to the scene both musically and lyrically, occupying a very real and organic sonic space where east meets west and vintage meets fresh.
Soof is truly an OG in this game, y’all! He’s someone that has helped lay the foundation for the Arab art and hip-hop scene in the diaspora, and continues to produce and make incredible music. So you know he came through with some amazing song selections this week:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
I LOVE a dark boom bap beat and this one is so fire. Tension, texture, head nod, all of it. And the lyrics and word play take it to another level. I think this is one of the most creative arab hip hop songs I’ve heard in a long time. It honestly gives me the same feeling the hip hop we heard back in the mid 90s did and that’s a special thing.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Anouar Brahem is go-to chill music for me. I wish there were more jazz out there like his. “C’est Ailleurs” transported me the first time I heard it and has every single time since. When I need a reset, or an instant escape from any situation, this song is it.
As far back as I can remember, this has been my go-to song to just put on, vibe and get inside my own head (in a good way). It forces a kind of introspection and self-appreciation that I think we all need to be able to unlock.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
An unreleased song called “Home” on my upcoming album! There’s a particular song I’ve been trying to write about Egypt for decades, literally. I finally nailed it (or close to?) on Dreams in Kufi and I can’t wait for the world to hear it.
Outside of that I could fill in the blank with any of the classics here...Om Kalthoum, Abdel Halim, Abdel Wahab....anything from that era is sonically teleporting.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Bob Marley’s entire catalogue. Reggae is so fundamental to my musical life and Bob is of course fundamental to reggae. I’m obviously not alone in this feeling, but his music touches me and speaks to me in an important way. One thing that I find so special about Reggae is that it takes spirituality and devotion and morality and just makes it sound cool. It’s nurturing. All the Reggae greats did/do it, and Bob reigns supreme. The music, the words, the vibe...all things to live by.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
I think this one speaks for itself. Imagine if we had been blessed with an entire Jay and B.I.G. album!!!
Nas in his bag on a boom bap beat will forever be energy-giving.
Big shout out to Soof for joining and sharing his song selections! Most of Soof’s songs are available on Spotify will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Check out Soof on all of your favorite streaming platforms, follow him on Instagram and Twitter, and stay tuned for his latest album Dreams in Kufi this summer!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Maroccina - Jewlz featuring Souki Shayk
Tranquila - Young Rz
Unbreakable - Idrissi featuring Seina
Taline - Draganov
Arrivé - Numidia
Yay Seher Oyounoh - Nej
2dam Elkel - siilway
Ana Le Habiby - Fairuz
Flower Of Cities - Nai Barghouti
Hatha Ana - TacKy
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
Brisa - Zion y Lennox featuring Danny Ocean
The Carnival - Aazar featuring Mariah Angeliq, ZAAC, Danny Synthé, and French Montana
Arena Roja - Dali Mata
Los Tweets - Corina Smith
Siempre Hace Frio - Selena Quintanilla
Caramelo - Lil Viic featuring Lennis Rodriguez
María - Ricky Martin
ARENA Y MAR - BEBEBOY
Te Perdí - Carla Morrison
La Duda - Matt Paris
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Pick Your Poison - Blxst featuring Grandmaster Vic
whatever u like - UMI
Rich - Yarah
Owo Ni Koko - Boj featuring Fireboy DML
Taken - Moliy
Persuasive - Doechii
WAIT FOR U - Future featuring Tems and Drake
melt - Kehlani
It Ain’t Over - The Black Keys
Skyline - Khalid
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanon boat survivors wait for news of missing loved ones - Kareem Chehayeb, Al Jazeera
At least six people drowned on Saturday after a boat carrying migrants sank shortly after leaving Tripoli’s shore.
Sri Lankan domestic workers in Lebanon caught between two crises - Matt Kynaston, Middle East Eye
Anna has been working in Lebanon for 30 years. Her life has always been hard but, she tells MEE, it is now all but impossible.
Orphanage and school, church and mosque: remembering Saida’s Armenian legacy - Mohamad El Chamaa, L’Orient Today
“At its height in the 20th century, Saida’s Armenian population comprised nearly 80 families, according to the few remaining residents to whom L’Orient Today spoke. They helped mold the face of the city, and contributed to the makeup of the urban fabric that prevails today.”
The ‘one of a kind’ Beirut theatre surviving Lebanon’s crises - Heba Saleh, Financial Times
Renowned Metro al-Madina venue pushes on after being tested by Covid lockdowns and economic woes.
Lebanese youths seek a brighter future abroad amid economic, political crises - Sally Farhat, France24
Almost three years into Lebanon’s trifecta of economic, social and political crises, Lebanese youths are desperate to move abroad. For them, leaving the country means finding better opportunities for the future. Studies show that this belief is on the rise among youth – and this, in turn, is expected to decrease their level of political involvement and engagement.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
How to save Jordan from a climate disaster - Zoe H. Robinson, The New Arab
Climate change threatens Jordan's humdrum reputation as rising global temperatures and waves of refugees stress the region’s dwindling water supply.
How media coverage whitewashes Israeli state violence against Palestinians - Laura Albast and Cat Knarr, The Washington Post
Media descriptions regularly imply a false symmetry between occupier and occupied, propping up anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic narratives.
Massacre in Tadamon: how two academics hunted down a Syrian war criminal - Martin Chulov, The Guardian
After a rookie militiaman secretly watched a video of 41 people being brutally killed, he knew he had to get the horrific images to the outside world (*Warning: this report contains images readers may find upsetting)
Overuse and climate change kill off Iraq's Sawa Lake - Tony Gamal-Gabriel, Agence France-Presse
"This year, for the first time, the lake has disappeared," environmental activist Husam Subhi said. "In previous years, the water area had decreased during the dry seasons."
How much popular support does Tunisia’s president really have? - Mohamed Dhia Hammami and Sharan Grewal, The Washington Post
“Surveys suggest Tunisians approved of Kais Saied’s power grab. But they’re not actually answering his calls to action.”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
How Egypt's mahraganat music marvels in Disney's Moon Knight - Danny Hajjar, The New Arab
Yes, a little self-promotion here. But I hope you take some time to read my story and I hope you enjoy it!
NORF x BLAD Are Curating the Best Music in the Middle East and North Africa - Aravin Sandran, GQ Middle East
Join over 125,000 followers and discover the best sounds, talents, and cultural happenings in the Middle East, North Africa, and the broader diaspora.
Masks are off, COVID rates are up and musicians are once again on edge about touring - August Brown, Los Angeles Times
While fans have waited two years to fully cut loose at clubs, arenas and festivals, some acts and public health experts are wondering if it’s too soon to abandon safety measures such as masks and vaccine mandates.
Is there an Islamic arts ‘revival’? - N.A. Mansour, The New Arab
As Islamic artistic principles become more visible throughout the world - both in theory and in practice - Muslim artists have sought to represent and teach their art within their own localised contexts as proof of their cultural heterogeneity.
Raedio's President, Benoni Tagoe, Hopes To Revolutionize Audio Everywhere - Taryn Finley, HuffPost
Tagoe launched the company with Issa Rae in 2019 and is working with women and artists of color to create a new lane in music, podcasting and more.
📚 Other Reads 📚
At the merging of fashion and food in Los Angeles - Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times
The Hundreds, a highly influentialeetwear brand a block south on Fairfax, produces the annual Family Style Fest, which links local restaurants with major design brands to create one-day-only collaborative merchandise and dishes.
How Female Correspondents Are Defining War Coverage in Ukraine - Michelle Ruiz, Vogue
“I don’t think of myself as a war reporter,” says Fadel, who previously served as NPR’s international correspondent based in Cairo. “I just cover people…sometimes that means they’re living through some of the most traumatic things that you can imagine, and that can be anywhere.”
Biden’s support among Gen Z and millennials is collapsing. Why? - Christian Paz, Vox
What Biden (and Democrats) got wrong about young voters.
For Muslims in Ukraine, war revives questions of faith and belonging - Hannah Allam, The Washington Post
“We’re the minority here, but we’re a part of this country. We must do something."
In defense of Disney adults - Ian Kumamoto, Mic
Of course, in real life, Disney is far from a beacon of love and acceptance. But as a feminine, Chinese-Mexican immigrant kid who struggled to understand his place in suburban Texas, Disney made Ian feel like coming to America, in some cosmic sense, had been worth it.