Felukah is an Egyptian, New York based hip hop artist and neo-soul singer who mixes Arabic and Western influences in a unique melting-pot of style and sound.
Her latest single, ‘What She Does’, is a hip-hop-tinged track coinciding with a video that highlights multiple black/brown women entrepreneurs and artists in New York City. "What She Does" is an ode to women everywhere,” explains Felukah, having dropped the track on International Women’s Day. We spoke to her about poetry, duality, intentionality, being a woman in hip hop and more.
"What She Does" is centred on women empowerment, and was released on International Women's day. In what ways have women who came before you, the women you surround yourself with and the women in your industry empower you?
All my work centers around the notion of legacy; passing a feeling or movement down over generations of women. "What She Does" is an ode to empowering boss women everywhere. I wanted to honor women's history month by spotlighting the work my friends and I do as creatives, healers and sisters for each other. There was zero hesitation writing this song, it was really just an expression of all things that 'she' does, and that could be anyone and in any capacity.
And why is it important for you to elevate women in your music?
Women are harrowingly underrepresented in the music industry; it’s key for me to highlight women and the work of those before me in an effort to rectify this misrepresentation. However I cannot rectify a system, I can only inject into it what I wish to see for myself & others. Equality, recognition, and a seat at the table.
As a woman in hip hop, have you faced any challenges and how have you overcome them?
Without a doubt there’s limitations—but these limitations are there to be pushed. I’ve had to deal with my own limitations and insecurities as a majorly underrepresented Arab woman in America, and as a Westernized Egyptian in Cairo. Creating my own blueprint for this music flex has been and continues to be difficult, but it is incredibly rewarding and motivating at the same time. I rise to the occasion of setting my own scene for this inbetween.
You're also a published poet under your pseudonym Kahirati. Your creative expressions rap and poetry are interconnected, did you explore poetry or rap first, and did one lead to the other?
I’ve been a dedicated poet and a lover of verse for quite some time now. I self-published a few poetry chapbooks in the past years, before discovering my love for music, and the poetry flowed effortlessly onto the beat. My passion for writing met my passion for dance/rhythm— and that’s where hip hop came in. I also was lucky to grow up in a musical household; my brother plays the piano and taught me how to record myself on ProTools. I’ve found music to be one of the most beautiful cathartic forms of expression.
You've mentioned merging your dual cultural experiences of being a Westernized Egyptian and being an Arab woman in America, what other aspects of duality do you merge in your experience?
Dualities of many kinds riddle my work. I love making music that is vibrational, energetic and also calm at the same time— a quality I've always admired about timeless hip hop/R&B records. It’s the duality of serving old school flows on new school beats, lofi energy on heated topics like women's empowerment, self-discovery and cultural pride. My latest album “Dream 23” lyrically and sonically explores space in the first half and earth in the other, validating the dream world and the real world equally. It is split in so many ways: sonically, culturally and spiritually..
Earlier this year you released “PSA” which is about being selective and intentional with what you want to engage with in your experience. Can you tell us how the song has contributed to enhancing your vision as an artist, if it has?
Writing & recording “PSA” was a beautiful, eye-opening experience. I settled fully into the headspace of summoning love only into my orbit. I was able to channel my energy in such a way that I am energized and excited to keep releasing & promoting my music amidst the pandemic! No live shows, but crazy aptitude for learning to share myself & my art through new mediums.
Tell us about some of the women featured in the "What She Does" music video and how you came about selecting them?
The women featured in “What She Does” all create original art and are entrepreneurs in their own right. An amalgamation of friends I’ve made through work and life, the video features Giselle Manzano Ramirez, Tala Barbotin Khalidy, Dahlia, Chloe Martins, Morgan Becker, Tara Matalka and Dilamu. I’m insanely proud to know them and am inspired by them deeply.
Interview: Phendu Kuta