FEATURED MIX: WITH[OUT] YOU
Music was the first medium that moved when I was young. It started with instruments like the piano and the saxophone, but things changed when Abel Tesfaye released his mixtapes while I was still in Montreal. You’d think that at that young age, I wouldn’t be able to relate to his dark allure. Who would've thought?
A very close friend of mine who moved away would send me so many SoundCloud tracks that we eventually made a playlist to keep up. Making playlists then became a form of release. I was going through heartbreak; I had to set certain songs from that moment in a particular place, let it play, then let go. To many, music relieves pain, and others might need that relief too.
Years passed by and I met Rana on a flight to Dubai from Montreal. We connected immediately, both politically and spiritually. A 16-hour flight gave birth to an intimate friendship. She was a dedicated activist with a thousand subjects to speak on. She kept me inspired when she spoke to me about her dream of a greater Lebanon, and how ashamed she was to be considered from there. The way she put it, immorality was rampant and the lack of care for our government’s structure was blasphemous. The truth of her words didn’t resonate with me until we separated.
We had a conflicting friendship that was always deeper than it seemed. Sometimes we wouldn't see each other for weeks, and sometimes I would ignore a snowstorm and chase my need to see her in the night; I just wanted to be around her. We’d watch the sunrise at 4 AM, sharing in each other’s silence. Rana continuously made me want to be a better person, to alleviate suffering around me to the best of my ability. But she met me at the wrong time, and our personal struggles got in the way. I always spoke to her about wanting to enmesh politics and art, but it wasn't until we weren’t in each other’s lives that I decided it was the right time to act on it. I knew that music would be the form of expression for this pursuit.
I started making beats and watched films about Lebanon’s bloody civil war in the 70s. I was captivated and couldn’t stop thinking about Rana’s dream. Within this playlist are my ideal politics – and hopefully Rana’s too. It was important to me to fuse a groovy beat with a hopeful message about what is going on in my country – our country, Lebanon. No matter what, the fight for political freedoms is that deep; it is crucial. I included icons such as Lady Majida, Rima al Kiraki, Hamed Sinno, and, of course, Fairouz: Lebanon’s voice for freedom. I dedicate this playlist to a dream that can change someone’s mind about what we are going through.
I also dedicate this to Rana.