Introducing Yasmine Hamdan
March 29, 2014 5:22 AM   Subscribe

This is good.
posted by chunking express at 6:21 AM on March 29, 2014

Indeed. Thank you.
posted by dominik at 7:11 AM on March 29, 2014

Oooh - really like this!
posted by leslies at 7:18 AM on March 29, 2014

I listened to it all the way through. It's been ages since I last did that. Good stuff, thanks for sharing.
posted by Gordafarin at 7:20 AM on March 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Love this. Thanks.
posted by rtha at 7:37 AM on March 29, 2014

What pretty music. Glad to know about it.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:55 AM on March 29, 2014

Nice music. Reminds me of my favorite: Natacha Atlas (less trap set, more doumbek, higher vocal range).
posted by kozad at 10:26 AM on March 29, 2014

More links: Yasmine's website (autoplaying music) and Soapkills website, her original band. Yasmine and Soap Kills on Wikipedia. 13 tracks from Yasmine on Grooveshark, and 50 from Soapkills.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:46 AM on March 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

She's pretty good, but I would question entirely the premise that this is some kind of unexpected "incredibly interesting place".

Rather, I thought the music sounded a lot like it was influenced by the current popular French music. Given that she's been living in Paris since 2002, this is not surprising at all. It's actually a bit xenophobic and racist for an American to suggest that this is somehow something new, as opposed to something that has been going on for quite awhile that they have been generally ignorant about.

In truth, France -- and Paris especially -- has been a huge cultural mecca for Middle Eastern music for decades, providing a safe, increasingly profitable base for all sorts of Middle Eastern performers who might otherwise face resistance at home. It's actually hard to think of modern Middle Eastern musicians who become known throughout the world who *haven't* lived in Paris at some time or another during their careers. I only wish the US were as welcoming, because these performers have gone abroad, only to bring real cultural change back home.

We need to stop "exotic-izing" the Middle Eastern experience, as they are oftentimes much more worldly than we are. It's a shame that the US doesn't appeal to them as much as France does.
posted by markkraft at 2:03 PM on March 29, 2014 [7 favorites]

To be fair, it's not exactly weird that an artist from Beirut especially would choose Paris as a place to work or live or learn, considering the long historical and cultural ties between France and Lebanon. It's not like they pick Paris randomly off a map.

Sorry I can't just flick on a radio and hear a variety of contemporary music from the Middle East, and I sorry I learned about this from a link on NPR. Can you maybe suggest some other sources for people to check out, or should we just sit here and feel bad for thinking this was neat?
posted by rtha at 2:20 PM on March 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Finished listening to the record. This is wonderful. I love it. Thanks!
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:15 PM on March 29, 2014

markkraft: I would question entirely the premise that this is some kind of unexpected "incredibly interesting place".

I thought it was coming from the fact that she was part of (one of) the first "indie-electropop" bands in Lebanon, has taken that influence into her current work, and her music is just now getting exposure in North America. She may not be the only one doing this now, but it's new to American ears, by and large.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:59 PM on March 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Her music reminds me of listening to This Mortal Coil!
posted by geeklizzard at 5:39 PM on March 29, 2014

Thanks for the links, desert_laundry and filthy light thief! Yasmine performs a song in the film Only Lovers Left Alive and it really piqued my interest. I'm streaming the album now and enjoying it. :)
posted by daisyk at 4:16 AM on March 30, 2014

I'd like to think I stay relatively informed on what's going on with contemporary indie Arabic music (I used to run a little website out of the Middle East called but that's neither here nor there). I would have to disagree with markkraft's comments a bit. The notoriety of an electro-pop album where the singer utilizes a range of colloquial Arabic dialects is quite new even for local listeners, and I see little reason to detract from its originality simply because it might be influenced by current musical movements in France. For instance, give artists Mashrou3 Leila or El Morabba3 or even the Jordanian rappers Khotta Ba a listen. Undoubtedly they have all been influenced by the musical stylings of Western musicians, but they have been able, either their lyrics or fusion with traditional vocal intonations, to put a very unique twist on each genre they have been respectively influenced by (Khotta Be tends to rap about corruptions and Palestinian nationalism). And do bear in mind that this is a very recent phenomenon (two years ago you would never hear a band like Mashrou3 Leila, let alone Yasmine Hamdan, on the radio in Amman).
posted by desert_laundry at 4:17 AM on March 30, 2014 [7 favorites]

I like this. Thanks, desert_laundry.
posted by homunculus at 5:29 PM on March 30, 2014

Desert_laundry, do you know of any Khotta Ba lyrical translations into the English language?
posted by oceanjesse at 12:15 PM on March 31, 2014

I just found the npr music app for iPad in the last month or so and it's amazing. This is a great album, I've heard a bunch of other great albums through the "first listen" program and the All Songs 24/7 station is now my go to music when I have friends around. I had no idea npr did music - but they do a really great job of it.

Also, thanks dirty_laundry for the other recommendations. I'll definitely check those out.
posted by mosessis at 11:03 PM on March 31, 2014

@oceanjesse unfortunately I have yet to find any existing translations, will keep my eyes open though.
posted by desert_laundry at 12:11 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have been listening to this album non-stop for the last few days. Thanks for the post.
posted by dhruva at 10:16 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's worth pointing out that her older work with Soap Kills is also fantastic. Here's an example track.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:24 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

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