The Spin: Beirut's Jam Is Mashrou' Leila's 'Embembelela7'

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Mashrou' Leila

Mashrou' Leila's "Embembelela7" borrows its main lyric from a Lebanese nursery rhyme and sets it to a harsh drumbeat. Tanya Traboulsi hide caption

itoggle caption Tanya Traboulsi

Summer deserves its own soundtrack — for the beach, for warm nights and for the road. But don't worry if your travel budget is tight: This summer, All Things Considered and NPR Music will take you on a global journey through music. We're checking in on DJs, musicians and writers for the songs that define summer in some of the world's most vibrant cities. We're calling it The Spin.

When it comes to summer in the Arab world, no city does it better than Beirut. It's often called the Paris of the Middle East — for its style, cuisine and fashionable nightlife along the Mediterranean. Beirut is home to some of the biggest Arab pop stars, but it's also home to a thriving independent music scene.

Ziad Nawfal is a DJ with Radio Lebanon, and also hosts a series of live shows across Beirut. His choice for the city's song of the summer is Mashrou' Leila's "Embembelela7," which borrows its main lyric from a Lebanese nursery rhyme and sets it to a harsh drumbeat. Nawfal says the song is a commentary on materialism in Lebanon.

"[The band] wanted to turn this nursery rhyme around and turn it into some sort of satirical comment on materialistic tendencies in Lebanon," Nawfal tells All Things Considered host Michele Norris. "How people are driven by greed, by money — how a nursery rhyme, using the same words, can be turned into something quite dark and brooding rather than soothing and lyrical."

Ziad Nawfal's Summer Playlist

*Note: All of the songs selected by Ziad Nawfal can be purchased at the iTunes (U.S.) store.

Intensive Care, "Tales of Sarah-Jane, The Golden Horse"

Mashrou' Leila, "Embembelela7"

Munma, "Yaqiin"

Nadine Khouri, "Number One Boy"

New Government, "Flaka"

Rima Khcheich, "Haflet Taraf"

Shant & Diamond Setter, "Champagne"

Soapkills, "Ya Jarha Galbi"

Ziad Rahbani, "Ma Tfel"



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