Bilad El-Sham Music is proud to have sponsored QALB ALSHARI3 (“Heart of the Street”), the debut EP from The HWS. Assasi interviewed The HWS about his intentions for the music and the stories behind each of the four tracks.
This interview was originally conducted in Arabic. It has been translated and edited for clarity. Please click here to read the interview in Arabic (المقال بالعربي).
Assasi: Why did you call this EP “QALB ALSHARI3” (“Heart of the Street”)?
The HWS: The streets contain all different kinds of people, including the simple folks with no education – just street smarts.
Assasi: Who is this EP for?
The HWS: It’s for me, first of all. Secondly, it’s for people who can relate to what I’m saying. For Syria, for my city Raqqa. For the environment I grew up in, that I got out of – I still carry the memories from that. I took all those memories and ideas and threw them into this album.
Assasi: What is the message you want people to get when they listen to this EP?
The HWS: To the youth – my generation, especially street kids – I want to ask: What can we achieve, coming from the streets? After wars and trauma, with no education or normal childhood. Even when everything around us is fucked up. And also those of us who have immigrated and feel lost in the streets somewhere new. I think lots of people can relate to the experiences I’m sharing in this music.
I’m from Raqqa. Raqqa Street, specifically. I want this EP to say “This is from Raqqa”, to show my pride in my city. This is original music from a 20-year-old guy from Raqqa. I want it to be part of our legacy.
Assasi: Tell me about the album visuals.
The HWS: A lot of people are asking about the weapons on my album cover. That doesn’t represent what my life is today – I don’t use weapons or guns. This is just showing what we witnessed growing up in the streets of Raqqa. This is everything we saw growing up.
Assasi: Tell me about the tracks on “QALB AlSHARI3”.
The HWS: Track One is called SHAYIL DAMI (“I carry my blood”). It’s about every drop of blood I lost from violence and trauma inside and outside of my country. I was in fights. I was shot in the war. I talk about all of this in a metaphorical way. I used to hang out with older folks – just learning and listening. One guy shared this piece of wisdom with me: “The kingdom of man is his home.” No matter what you achieve outside your home, it’s still true.
Track Two, BENZ, is about my experience in a past relationship. How I got into it, how it went, how I got out. I was so full of anger and emotions. How can someone like me have a heart after everything I went through? I love a Mercedes Benz – you can empty your anger out driving it, get some satisfaction and catharsis.
The title of Track Three, TREES, is a Libyan term for a street guy – like a tough guy. I’m asking where The HWS can go from here – how far? I’m not The HWS until I get a street named after me. I talk about what I’m thinking versus my enemies – they’re thinking about me, while I’m thinking about the next step, how to put food on my table. Dhaf (from Tunisia) tells some related stories in his feature on the track.
Track Four is SYRIA STREET featuring Moudy Alarabe. We’re talking about a Syrian girl and what she wants to see in her Syrian man. How Syrians are – what makes a Syrian. Protecting the neighborhood; having integrity – like that saying, “Your iron is gold.” Moudy talks about Damascus more specifically in his verse.