In Your Ear: Sanaa Hamri

Film and music video director Sanaa Hamri opens her music file and tells what music she listens to when looking to escape the stresses of Hollywood. Hamri's tastes range from R&B/pop legend Prince to folk/pop icon Joni Mitchell.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And we end today's program with our occasional series we call In Your Ear. That's where we ask our guests to tell us about the music that's keeping them moving. Today, we hear what film and music video director Sanaa Hamri is listening to. We caught up with her in the summer, just ahead of the release of her film "Just Wright," that starred Queen Latifah and Common, and we asked her what music she listens to when she wants to unwind.

(Soundbite of song, "Edith and the Kingpin")

Ms. SANAA HAMRI (Film and Music Video Director): Hi, this is Sanaa Hamri, and I'm currently listening to "Edith and the Kingpin" by Joni Mitchell.

(Soundbite of song, "Edith and the Kingpin")

Ms. JONI MITCHELL (Singer, Songwriter): (Singing) The big man arrives. Disco dancers greet him. Plainclothes cops greet him. Small town, big man, fresh lipstick glistening.

Ms. HAMRI: She's one of my favorite artists. I have all her albums, and it's one of my go-to songs that I play in my car while I'm driving around L.A. in between meetings because it makes me feel very relaxed. And I love the way Joni Mitchell talks about imagery, because as a director, I'm able to almost see the see the scenes that she paints.

(Soundbite of song, "Edith and the Kingpin")

Ms. MITCHELL: (Singing) His left hand holds his right. What does that hand desire, that he grips it so tight? Edith in the ring. The passed-over girls are conferring. The man with the diamond ring...

Ms. HAMRI: And then another song that I listen to over and over again, it's a very short song. It's short and sweet, and it's by a colleague of mine, a friend of mine that I've worked with numerous amount of time, and it's Prince, "Crazy You."

(Soundbite of song, "Crazy You")

PRINCE (Singer-songwriter, musician): (Singing) You have got a strange way about you. You're kinda crazy, but I love you just the same.

Ms. HAMRI: That song was, I think, on his first album. And it's just one of those moments in which you know that he just has something special, and I just think that it encapsulates his tone as an artist and as a free artist. So I definitely love that song.

(Soundbite of song, "Crazy You")

PRINCE: (Singing) I'm just a crazy fool, lost in the world of love I get from crazy you. Oh, I'm so strung out thinking about the crazy things you do. Crazy you.

Ms. HAMRI: Last but not least, I'm currently listening to - off of the soundtrack of my new movie "Just Wright" - the song called "Next Time" by Common, and it's featuring Queen Latifah. And Common, to me, is an amazing hip-hop artist who always has great positivity and things to say.

(Soundbite of song, "Next Time")

COMMON (Hip-Hop Artist, Actor): We conversate(ph) and talk about life in South Dakota, that tonight was just right for us. She was flavor most, and I could spice it up. Be my black Victoria Beckham, once I wife it up. Afterwards, the next time we could speak. I'm, like, closed you and marry you in three weeks. It seems she, she finally said she don't remember my name. That's when I realized that there ain't no end to this game.

I thought man, you don't know me? I'm the black guy in the flick with Angelina Jolie. Slowly, she told me, oh, you got moves. Her friend said really no, he's a good dude. After a couple months of dating and pass a good shoes being snapped by the pack, we said the good news. We were engaged. Don't anyone confuse. I'm from the Windy City, so I will not lose. Come on.

QUEEN LATIFAH (Hip-hop artist, actor): (Singing) I'm gonna blow your mind...

Ms. HAMRI: I always say that Common is a master at his words. And then you've got Queen Latifah on the hook just really, you know, holding it down. I just think it's like a perfect hip-hop song.

(Soundbite of song, "Next Time")

QUEEN LATIFAH: I'm gonna tell you I love you, cross my heart and hope to die. The next time that I see you.

COMMON: What's the matter, don't figure. Ya'll can go figure. Should have listened today because she was a gold digger. I ain't a dumb nook(ph), but she was able to pull it. Love had me blindsided like Sandra Bullock. Or could it be things go the way that they should? From the unexpected, love could be understood. And in the real game, only love can win. I got to win, because I fell in love with a friend.

MARTIN: That was Sanaa Hamri, telling us about the music playing in her ear. To hear our recent interview with her, go to TELL ME MORE's website on the Program page of npr.org.

And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

Let's talk more tomorrow.

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