Hanni El Khatib: Hoop Dreams | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Hanni El Khatib: Hoop Dreams

Play associated audio

Hanni El Khatib is a budding artist and avid skateboarder from the San Francisco area whose debut album, Will the Guns Come Out, comes out this month. If El Khatib's name sounds familiar, it's probably because his song "I Got a Thing" is being used in one of Nike's global ad campaigns as kind of a modern surf, skate and all-around shredding anthem.

Though El Khatib writes his own songs, "I Got a Thing" is a re-imagining of an old Funkadelic tune. Will The Guns Come Out features a handful of covers, including "You Rascal You," a song most famously performed by Louis Armstrong. El Khatib tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered, that he wanted to be cautious in interpreting old classics.

"Some songs seem kind of untouchable in a weird way," El Khatib says. "And so my approach was, 'Why don't I just take the lyrics and kind stay in the family of the same key, and then just turn it into a new song completely?' "

A recent review in the Los Angeles Times described El Khatib's sound as "the sort of music you'd expect to have soundtracked West Side Story, had the songs been written by the Sharks and the Jets instead of Sondheim and Bernstein." A first-generation American of Palestinian and Filipino descent, El Khatib was raised in San Francisco during the emergence of skateboard culture. Despite his international background, he says he grew up listening to classic Americana music, '60s soul, surf, doo-wop and British Invasion rock.

"My mom actually was a huge fan of The Beatles and The Zombies, and that's kind of what was playing in the house. And my dad is kind of one of those people where, if it sounds good, he likes it," El Khatib says. "I grew up with this weird culture-clash kind of thing: My mother speaks Tagalog, my father speaks Arabic, but to speak together they have to speak English. So I grew up speaking English, basically being raised as an American, in order to assimilate to the surroundings. And I think that kind of stuck with me."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Church Of Scientology Calls New HBO Documentary 'Bigoted'

The filmmaker says Going Clear, harshly critical of the Church of Scientology, is about the dangers of "blind faith." The church has hit back with an aggressive public relations effort of its own.
NPR

Think Nobody Wants To Buy Ugly Fruits And Veggies? Think Again

Remember that old movie trope, in which the mousy girl takes off her glasses to reveal she was a beauty all along? A similar scenario is playing out among food waste fighters in the world of produce.
NPR

Amazingly, Congress Actually Got Something Done

The leaders and members must, in a word, compromise. And on this occasion, Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did just that, with skill and savvy.
NPR

Can Republicans Get Ahead In The 2016 Digital Race?

When Sen. Ted Cruz threw his hat into the ring, it happened first on Twitter. Political news is breaking more and more on social media, and both sides face different challenges in reaching out.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.