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Guest Feature: Yassin “Narcy” Alsalman
My friends, no need for an intro section today. We have an illustrious guest feature this week and I am too hype right now. I am so excited to introduce one of the most renowned and accomplished artists: Yassin “Narcy” Alsalman!
Yassin “Narcy” Alsalman is a celebrated multi-hyphenate artist from the Iraqi Diaspora. Known as the leading Iraqi MC out of North America, NARCY has collaborated with the likes of Blackstar, Yo-Yo Ma, Mashrou Leila, Dave Chappelle and more. He is an award winning music video director, having directed R.E.D. for A Tribe Called Red and many others. He teaches the only hip-hop courses on a University level in Quebec, at Concordia University. He is a published author on Haymarket Books and an actor. His most recent endeavour, The IRAQAFELLA Show is a podcast exploring the difficulties and mental health issues developed in the music industry. His collected, We Are The Medium, are involved in consulting work around the arts and Arab Representation. Can't stop, Won't Stop!
A literal legend in hip hop, my friends! This is Narcy we’re talking about! He paved the way for so many other artists, especially artists in the larger Arab diaspora. Narcy’s one of the first rappers I remember listening to and feeling like I could identify with. This is the emcee behind the classic “Nargisee” album, and his latest album “MEME AGAINST THE WORLD” with producer Thanks Joey is another incredible body of work. And he continues to explore new ventures and is now dominating the podcast game! “The IRAQAFELLA Show” is absolutely incredible. Narcy’s already had such engaging conversations with both Majid Jordan, who just released their own album “Wildest Dreams” a few weeks back, and Noah “40” Shebib, one of the co-founders of the record label OVO and one of Drake’s main producers.
I am so excited and truly so honored that this legend came through to share some of his go-to songs for the newsletter:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
My favorite song at the moment is a tie between "24" by Kanye West and an untitled Blackstar song that I heard off the new album they have.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
What is home? Do you mean my home with my wife and kids or country? Because those are two totally different things!
Home is people to me.
So if we are talking Mom and Dad, it's "Ahwak" by Abdel Halim Hafez.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
I know every single lyrics to every hip-hop record released between 1995-1998. This question is a thesis for me.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“R.E.D.” by A Tribe Called Red, featuring yasiin bey (Mos Def) and me! This song means so much to me and carries so much energy.
Big, big shout out to the homie Narcy for joining and sharing his song selections! All of Narcy’s songs are included in this week’s playlist too, so be sure to take a listen. And please, go buy/stream Narcy’s albums, follow him on Twitter and Instagram, and check out “The IRAQAFELLA Show” immediately!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Circus - Xena Elshazlii featuring Issa and Assouad
Had Baady - Hoda Sherbeeny
Goudron - FRIZZY
3eni M3’mda - R3
Yasmina - Assasi featuring Coyote Island and Sarbasst
Bos Ba’aa - Sherine
Ma3lich - Mocci
Entourage - Chemsou Freeklane
I Tried - Neemz
Zay El Qetar - Akher Zapheer
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
Mejor Sola - Kim Loaiza featuring Zion y Lennox
Mama Tetema - Maluma featuring Rayvanny
Otra Vez - David Marley featuring Aissa
Borracha De Amor - Yoss Bones
Bolero - Bathe
Ten Presente - Jaguar
Escondida - Michi
El Piloto - Cynthia Montaño
LA FAMA - ROSALÍA featuring The Weeknd
Dame de Eso - Kiko el Crazy featuring Lenny Tavárez
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Death Row East - Nas
Digital Tears - RIMON
Fearmonger - Saba featuring Daoud
Softly - Amber Mark
NEO - Aminé
California - Lorde
Freeze - Kari Faux featuring Amal Marie and Ymtk
More - IYAMAH featuring Coops
Blast Off - Silk Sonic
My Head & My Heart - Ava Max
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Paradise Lost? The Myth of Lebanon’s Golden Era - Karim Merhej, The Public Source
In October 1982, only months after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, ARAMCO World Magazine published an issue titled “Paradise Lost: A Eulogy for Lebanon,” filled with articles written by Westerners who had experienced the Lebanon of the pre-war era. Today, we see similar tropes, disseminated by Lebanon's ruling parties as well as its regular citizens. But as is often the case: All that glitters is not gold.
Challenging the establishment: How alternative media is promoting a democratic dynamic in Lebanon - Clément Gibon, The New Arab
New and emerging Lebanese media outlets are encouraging more political participation and citizen empowerment and as these alternatives obtain more means to integrate into the media landscape, they are bringing a counter-power to traditional voices.
Like the Titanic - Lebanon's orchestra keeps playing as country sinks - Timour Azhari, Reuters
The National Symphony Orchestra has not been spared the effects of the financial crisis that has left many people in Lebanon suffering from poverty and struggling to secure basic necessities.
Why Lebanon needs renewable energy now - Shayla Laughlin, The New Humanitarian
“We really need solutions, because people can no longer pay for their generator bills.”
Mansour Labaky: A priest faces the demons of the past - Caroline Hayek, L’Orient Today
After having been convicted by the Vatican in 2013, the Lebanese Maronite priest Mansour Labaky, 81, was tried on Monday in Caen, Normandy, on charges of rape and sexual assault of minors. Here is the full story. (*CONTENT WARNING: Some parts of this story may be triggering)
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Returning to ruined city, Libyan family struggles to rebuild - Islam Alatrash, Reuters
Displaced for years by war, the Mokhtar family is set on reoccupying their home in Libya's ruined city of Sirte but bitter that they are repairing the shell-cratered apartment with almost no help.
For Many Members of the Arab American Diaspora, Mansaf Offers a Taste of Home - Diana Abu-Jaber, The New York Times Magazine
The traditional Bedouin dish of bread, rice, lamb and yogurt is a talisman of identity in Jordan — and in various communities in suburban Detroit.
The Politics of a Fire Engine in Tunisia - Layli Foroudi, New Lines Magazine
How an emergency vehicle came to symbolize revolution and why the nation’s cradle of democracy is embracing the president’s power grab.
Interview #194 — Jeanine Hourani - Lujayn Hourani, Liminal Magazine
Jeanine Hourani is a Palestinian activist, organiser, and storyteller. She is the Director of Road to Refuge, an organisation that aims to change the narrative on refugees and people seeking asylum. Jeanine spoke to Lujayn Hourani about Palestinian activism, histories of organising, and limitations of language.
The unlikeliest of sights amid Yemen’s war: Trees sculpted into whimsical forms - Siobhán O'Grady and Ali Al-Mujahed, The Washington Post
Not far from Marib’s front lines, gardeners find peace by transforming trees into art.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
For Travis Scott, a history of chaos at concerts, followed by a night of unspeakable tragedy - August Brown, Los Angeles Times
Scott’s talent for stirring up a young fanbase with the fury of an underground punk act has long been a part of his appeal. But that penchant for inspiring chaos onstage has led to troubling situations, long before last Friday’s Astroworld crowd-stampede disaster that killed eight people and left numerous concert-goers injured in Houston.
Novelist Eman Assad on Belonging and Identity in Kuwait - Jenan Alhamli, ArabLit
“Our identity was wholly attached [to our father’s], and a new duty was put in place, whereby you needed to express your loyalty to Kuwait. And how do you do that? By accepting the insulting names your country is called without objection.”
'Insecure' Star Kendrick Sampson On Mental Illness And Owning Black Stories - Ruth Etiesit Samuel, HuffPost
The actor talked about his breakout role as Nathan on “Insecure,” entertainment as a vessel for activism, and the importance of ownership of Black stories.
Tori Amos on the Music That Shaped Her Life - Eric Torres, Pitchfork
The alternative icon on the comforts of Carly Simon, the escape of Aphex Twin, and the life-giving power of Tracy Chapman.
Wale on the Lost Art of Playing the Long Game - Craig Jenkins, Vulture
“What is the upward trajectory in this space right now? I don’t feel like we really know for real.”
📚 Other Reads 📚
How Masai Ujiri Builds a Team - Louis Thomas, The New Yorker
The acclaimed N.B.A. executive on trading players, experiencing injustice, and going home.
The Facebook Papers Must Be Shared With Outlets Globally - Annia Ciezadlo, WIRED
The news consortium exposing the company's worldwide abuses hasn’t included the journalists best equipped to report on them—those in the global south.
Land of Thirst - Jérôme Tubiana, The Baffler
On climate migration in Darfur.
The High Price of Doing Journalism in El Salvador - Nelson Rauda, ProPublica
A reporter teams up with the American journalist who first broke the story of the El Mozote massacre, tracking El Salvador’s faltering efforts to hold the perpetrators accountable, in a new documentary from Retro Report and FRONTLINE.
Kevin Garnett Is Still Breathing Fire - Michael Pina, GQ
The basketball legend looks back on his Hall of Fame career, from the hyper-intense competitiveness to the line-crossing trash talk to the pioneering contracts and trades, and finds little to regret.