Headphone Highlights: Fatima Al Qadiri

Born in Senegal, raised in Kuwait, based in NYC – multi-faceted composer, artist and scholar Fatima Al Qadiri knows a thing or two about different fractures of the (art-)world. Crafting music with melodic diversity too complex for techno, and percussive patterns too crisp for ambient, many have failed to pin down Fatima’s musical œuvre so far, as she tends to switch from grimey to colourful to eerie in seconds. Needless to say, her travels and experiences have left indelible marks on her various artistic outlets. Channeling Middle Eastern melodies, rave energy and Western surface aesthetics in her tracks, Fatima’s CV includes acclaimed releases on Fade To Mind and UNO, as well as on Tri Angle under her Ayshay moniker (meaning ‘whatever’ in Arabic slang). You can listen to the audio version of this Headphone Highlights over at RBMA Radio. 

Fatima Al Qadiri “Ghost Raid” (Fade To Mind)

This first track is off my new EP, Desert Strike. It’s part of this kind of audio memoir of the first Gulf War and occupation of Kuwait. And I’ve always wanted to make a track that captures the concept of aerial bombardment, and that’s why there are so many explosions in this record. The name of the track is based on the ‘Ghost Of Baghdad’, which is the nickname of this stealth bomber, or stealth fighter jet used by the American military during the war, which was the F-117 Nighthawk. And I think the American military used something like 250 stealth bombers during the war, which was maybe more than they’ve used in any other military operation. At the time, that was the first, largest use of stealth bombers ever. So, I just wanted to commemorate it in this track.

Preditah “The Big Wok” (StayFresh)

The previous track is so influenced by grime, I wanted to follow it up with a grime track, and Preditah is a relatively new producer, compared to the grime producers that were around in the early 2000s. This track is an amazing example of new grime that’s exciting, and makes use of Asian-sounding orchestral elements that were very, and are still, popular in grime. But it’s an amazing track.

Sasha Go Hard “Badd Ass” (self-released)

This one’s produced by Absolut P. [Sasha Go Hard]’s one of the new MCs in the States that is really, really exciting. Her mixtape Do U Know Who I Am? I think came out this year? It’s really good. I highly recommend everybody downloads it.

Samename “Harajuku” (self-released)

This is another kind of grimy track by this young producer called Samename in the UK. And it’s a really exciting, [laughs] cute… it’s cutesy and exciting [laughs]. I don’t even know how to explain it, it just has this vocal joy in it that is pretty intense and beautiful.

Massacooramaan “Aww Shit! featuring DJ Rashad” (Fade To Mind)

This next one features a little vocal clip by DJ Rashad. Dave Quam aka Massacooramaan is one of my favourite people on the planet, and this track is really amazing because it has that little western melody, and it’s just a really distinctive 2012 track.

Airscape “Jafar Wizard” (Round And Round)

This next one by Airscape is “Jafar Wizard”, [laughs] love that title. I guess it’s from the early 90s; if I’m not mistaken it’s from 1992, and therefore an early hardcore track. I just had to throw a retro track in there because all of these are relatively new tracks. It’s one of those many hardcore tracks that are just capturing the imagination of people right now. A lot of producers are starting to make hardcore and drum n bass and jungle tracks, I’ve noticed [laughs]. But you know, it’s all good. It’s all really inspirational music from the past.

Future “Hard” (self-released)

This next one is from his mixtape Welcome 2 Mollyworld, and it’s such a good mixtape; another incredible mixtape. Really futuristic production, aptly named Future. This track is so dense, I just feel like there’s, I don’t know, 50 layers in it. I just want to peel off all the layers, it’s so beautiful.

Visionist “Control This” (Signal Life)

[Visionist is a] young, talented producer from London. It’s just one of those new UK, kind of grime-inspired tracks. When I say grime-inspired, it’s not grime, but it’s grime-inspired [laughs], like a lot of grime-inspired tracks these days. I don’t know, I guess grime is making a… I don’t know if it’s a comeback, but I feel like it’s something that was untapped, that was unpopular around the world, only popular in the UK. So, it still contains so much influence and inspiration for a lot of producers. Shout out to Visionist for his beautiful track.

Ali Haider “Allah Tere Siwa” (self-released)

This one’s an a cappella religious anthem from Pakistan. This track and many others have inspired my work on the Ashay record and Muslim Trance, so I just wanted stick one in here for fans of that kind of music.

 DJ Figo & Amr Haha “Alshaab Yureed Mawdoo’ Gideed” (unreleased)

[The title translates to] “The People Want A New Subject”. DJ Figo, I’m sure, is going to blow up in the next year or few years. He’s one of the most, if not the most talented producer in Egypt right now making shaabi music, which is basically Egyptian dance pop, where people have these sound systems on the streets. There’s not really that many club nights, it’s more of a street sound system activity. But very exciting. I highly recommend you all go to Cairo, check him out.

Dvice “Esta Noche” (self-released)

This next one is just a beautiful reggaeton track, because I’m obsessed with reggaeton and had to represent some reggaeton in this playlist. Beautiful production, gorgeous melodies, great singing. I don’t know, it’s just really, really beautiful. There’s a new wave of reggaeton tracks. Not new, but fairly recently. Although this one’s not an example of that, there’s some darker, icier reggaeton coming out [laughs].

Fatima Al Qadiri “Hip Hop Spa” (UNO)

The last one is off my record Genre-Specific Xperience. I made this record because I have a dream, which is that someone – some patron of rap or really smart business person – is going to open a hip hop spa [laughs]. But it’s a fantasy space that this track inhabits, basically.  

By Fatima Al Qadiri on November 28, 2012