Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Suhel Nafar
Usually I do a little intro here where I share some thoughts about something happening in the news. But I am far too excited for this week’s guest that we should just go ahead and get right into it.
I am really honored and pumped to introduce this week’s guest feature: Suhel Nafar!
Suhel is currently the Vice President of Strategy & Market Development - West Asia and North Africa (WANA) at EMPIRE, the leading independent label, distributor, and publisher in the US and the first label to open a division in the US to help grow the local scene in WANA and its diaspora.
Most recently, Suhel worked at Spotify as the Global Lead of Arab Music & Culture helping to build and launch in West Asia and North Africa, including an initiative of international curation for the largest cultures in the world. He also built Spotify's Arab Culture Hub and its international programming strategy, curating more than 120 playlists including flagship playlists such as Yalla Today's Top Hits, Arab X, Shisha Lounge, and Global X. Additionally, in 2016 Suhel helped launch Complex’s Snapchat Discover channel, the fastest growing platform in the history of Complex Networks.
In the 90s Suhel co-founded the hip hop crew, DAM, the first Arab hip hop group out of West Asia. He’s also worked in film and in 2016 was an artist-in-residence at New York University.
Needless to say, I was HYPE to speak to Suhel about some of his go-to music:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
It really depends on the moment and depends on the time of day, or the vibe of what I’m researching. Before our call I was listening to “KHAYYALA” by Almukhtar & EQuBE.
EMPIRE is number one in Africa right now, and has some of the best artists from Ghana, Nigeria and around the continent. One of the songs I had on loop from our EMPIRE playlist is “Spell” by Fireboy DML.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
”Aziza Brahim” by Lagi. This was my morning coffee song today. Everyday is something different.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
My last “goodbye” song with DAM, “Brooklyd” (from the album Ben Haana Wa Maana), which is about when I moved from my hometown Lydda in Palestine to Brooklyn. In this song, it’s my goodbye to being a writer and a performer and a rapper. I talk a lot about packing my belongings, going to the airport. I talk about my experience moving, why it’s hard to move and why I’m making the move. It’s me saying goodbye to the microphone. That was an emotional song to record and it was my last with DAM. (Check out the lyrics).
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
All DAM songs haha. I love “Kandaka” by Seidosimba and MazMars. During the summer in quarantine, my wife and I drove 10-hour drives between New York and Michigan a few times, and this was one of the songs in my playlist for those trips. I love the Sudani Afro Arab vibes in it, good to have on loop.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
I really love “John Cena” by Sho Madjozi — good fucking energy for sure. Another song is this song by Puri and Yanno called “Ferrari". I really like “NENENE” by Fero47 and “Fratello” by Tagne, Stormy, and Khtek as well.
Huge shout out to Suhel for joining and sharing his song selections! All of Suhel’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Lastly, Suhel wanted to stress that the music industry is entering a “genreless and borderless era” and that this is a time to partner with artists and support their growth. You should check out what he had to say in full in his Instagram post when he announced his move to EMPIRE.
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Ghaba - Marwan Pablo
Zorouni - Zamane featuring Amine Naami and Ghadir
Nazla Men al Sama - Moto
3awaj - Bint7alal featuring El Waili
Ana Mali Fiach - Faylasuf featuring Fadia DZ
Kifi Kif Nass - Zaynab
Solo - Meno Zein
When The Waves - Terez Sliman
Moja - Anas’wug
Hayirafo Meen - El Far3i
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
Dile - Don Omar
Convéncete - Princess Alba
Estrés - Big Soto featuring Lérica and Lyanno
PROBLEMA - Daddy Yankee
DELITO - Nathy Peluso
Ta Que Tiembla - Buscabulla
Bronca - Ana Mancebo
Coja Su Turno - Lennis Rodriguez
XOXA - Farruko featuring El Alfa
Ya Fue - Andrekza
🎼 Other Music 🎼
One More Time - Daft Punk
Better - Kelly Rowland
Nu Riddim - Ycee
I Like That - Houston featuring Chingy, Nate Dogg, and I-20
fxck it then - Yaya Bey
Lo Fit - Azawi
I’m Every Woman - Tinashe
Tetema - Rayvanny featuring Diamond Platnumz
World of Trouble - Kossisko
Interest - Dolapo featuring Ms. Banks and Oxlade
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Climate change and corruption endanger an ancient valley in Lebanon - Nabih Bulos and Marcus Yam, Los Angeles Times
Bisri is to be the site of Lebanon’s second-largest dam, a proposed mega-project to bring water to Beirut’s ever-ballooning neighborhoods. The pressure of such growth underscores an existential threat to the region as governments already on the brink contend with a future in which they can no longer support some of the world’s fastest-growing populations.
Lebanese lawmakers violate coronavirus vaccine rollout plan - Sarah Dadouch and Nader Durgham, The Washington Post
The head of the country’s vaccine committee and the World Bank said the vaccination of lawmakers on Tuesday was in breach of the World Bank-supported national plan.
Victims' Families In Lebanon Aim To Keep Explosion Probe Going - Ruth Sherlock, NPR
The dismissal of the lead judge investigating last year's massive blast in Beirut is raising fears of political interference to protect the country's leaders.
Politicians bypassing COVID-19 vaccination rules could have consequences beyond Lebanon’s borders, experts say - Abby Sewell, L’Orient Today
The ballooning scandal over high-profile Lebanese political figures allegedly jumping the line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine could have ripple effects for vaccine distribution programs elsewhere in the world.
The Killing of Omar Tayba: A Visual Investigation of a Protester’s Death in Tripoli - Kareem Chehayeb, The Public Source
By closely examining television and Facebook Live footage, and conducting interviews with hospital staff and six eyewitnesses, Kareem Chehayeb has reconstructed Omar Tayba’s final hours.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Tunisia's pared back Covid funerals deepen mourners' pain - Aymen Jamli, Agence France-Presse
In the North African country, hit hard by the pandemic, undertakers have adapted burials to protect mourners from infection while trying to help grieving families cope with the added pain of foregoing traditional funerals.
Young Palestinians Are Leaning Into TikTok – Even if Their Content Gets Deleted - James Greig, VICE
Palestinians are documenting their lives on TikTok, a space they say feels overall more open than other social media platforms.
Revealed: 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar as it gears up for World Cup - Pete Pattisson, Niamh McIntyre, Imran Mukhtar, Nikhil Eapen, Md Owasim Uddin Bhuyan, Udwab Bhattarai, and Aanya Piyari, The Guardian
Guardian analysis indicates shocking figure likely to be an underestimate, as preparations for 2022 tournament continue.
Her New Life Started With a Robbery on a First Date - Alia Malek, The New York Times
Nine months after she fled Syria, Maisam met Marvin in Germany. Their relationship gave her a surrogate family while she was separated from her own.
Remembering a taste of freedom in Bahrain, 10 years ago - Sayed Ahmed Alwadei, The Washington Post
“The events of the Arab Spring in Bahrain, which began 10 years ago this month, are burned into my memory.”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
‘Right now I’m into Libyan reggae’: the music label delving into the Arab world's back catalogue - Alexis Petridis, The Guardian
Jannis Stürtz has trawled Casablanca and rooted around a factory in Sousse for music. The Habibi Funk founder talks about his passion for Tunisian disco, Sudanese jazz and Lebanese soft rock.
Inside The World Of Moroccan-Canadian Singer Faouzia - Bilal Muhammad, GQ Middle East
From growing up posting songs on YouTube, to recent A-list collaborations, Faouzia is ready for the world to watch her soar.
'Flex the curiosity muscle': Community podcast Afikra dives deep into Arabic culture - Nazli Tarzi, The New Arab
Engineering a space to deep dive into Arabic history, Afikra is a movement of curious people keen to host lectures, debates, interviews and more recently, Covid-19 friendly digital gatherings.
The Robots Who Ruled the World - Justin Sayles, The Ringer
On Monday, Daft Punk exploded themselves in the desert and announced their dissolution. But if this is really the end, the electronic duo’s myth and legacy remains unvarnished.
How Old-School Basketball Sneakers Became the Hottest New Shoes - Tres Dean, GQ
Yellowed soles, high-top silhouettes, actual Pumps: in sneakers, old is new again.
📚 Other Reads 📚
My Brother’s Keeper - Ada Ferrer, The New Yorker
“Early in the Cuban Revolution, my mother made a consequential decision.”
Why the Black Girl Hockey Club Matters - Saroya Tinker, The Players’ Tribune
“Hockey saw me — specifically, the white people in hockey saw me. To them, it mattered what I looked like. They saw my Black skin.”
Texas Pays the Price of the Culture War - Adam Serwer, The Atlantic
Instead of focusing on governance, Republican politicians in the Lone Star State spent their time inflaming grievances.
Black doctors are being targeted on Clubhouse after trying to educate people about the COVID-19 vaccine - Moises Mendez II, Insider
Doctors are using the Clubhouse app to encourage people to take the COVID-19 vaccine. But numerous doctors told Insider they were harassed and bullied after discussing the vaccine. Black doctors in particular have faced substantial pushback, adding to the biases they already face.
Deported to Death - Emily Green and David Mora, VICE
The father of three, and grandfather of four, had been attempting to return to his home in Mississippi. He was killed in a massacre at the border.
If you enjoyed reading this newsletter and want to receive it in your inbox each week, be sure to hit the subscribe button below!