Fernandos Johnson Jr., known professionally as Bodhi, engineered ‘Art of War,’ a new album that is a response to the Israeli-Hamas war.
Fernandos Johnson Jr., known professionally as Bodhi, engineered 'Art of War,' a new album that is a response to the Israel-Hamas war. Backers of the project say proceeds will go to relief efforts in Gaza. Taylor Glascock for WBEZ
Fernandos Johnson Jr., known professionally as Bodhi, engineered ‘Art of War,’ a new album that is a response to the Israeli-Hamas war.
Fernandos Johnson Jr., known professionally as Bodhi, engineered 'Art of War,' a new album that is a response to the Israel-Hamas war. Backers of the project say proceeds will go to relief efforts in Gaza. Taylor Glascock for WBEZ

Walk into Private Stock Studios, tucked away in a brick building in Chicago’s Mayfair neighborhood, and you will immediately see images of career-launching albums recorded in part on-site. There’s Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap, alongside Juice WRLD’s Goodbye & Good Riddance.

The studio is known for talentspotting, and soon another album will join its roster, one that is bigger than a single artist or group. The Art of War, recorded at Private Stock and released on the Chicago label Amal Music Group, features artists from across the world coming together with one cause on their mind: Palestinians.

“And just know this for my people down in Gaza and Ramallah/ And it’s free falasteen (Palestine) until it’s backward motherf****r,” Detroit artist Eddy Mack raps on his track “Sound of War,” a song that expresses his frustrations with the Israel-Hamas war, which has up to this date killed more than 1,400 Israelis and 29,000 Palestinians, according to the Associated Press.

The album, which was released Friday, aims to give voice to people living in Palestinian territories impacted by the Israeli invasion, with proceeds going to relief efforts in Gaza. As executive producer, Mack recruited Arab Chicago musicians and international Arab artists from as far as the United Kingdom.

The idea of an album supporting Palestinians came to Mack’s attention last winter when a fellow producer, Chicago-based Hani Mahfouz, reached out with the idea. Mack made an Instagram post asking his followers to tag artists whom they would like to see involved with the project. Two hours after posting, he received more than 2,000 comments with artist suggestions.

In late December, Mack flew to Chicago to begin the album process, claiming he would stay however long he needed to in order to get the job done.

Recording equipment at Private Stock
‘The Art of War’ was recorded in Chicago and released by a Chicago label, Amal Music Group. Taylor Glascock for WBEZ

Mack, who is Jordanian, wanted to be able to express his displeasure for the war in Gaza in a way that would allow people to hear the pain and frustration through music.

When it came to picking out which artists he wanted to involve, Mack described it like recruiting the Avengers. There were a lot of discussions, he said, about who to involve and what types of music they wanted to create. The final album features sounds from U.K. drill, hip-hop and pop, giving fans chances to hear a spectrum of music while still keeping up with the theme of unity and awareness of the invasion in Gaza.

“Nothing hits you more emotionally than music. I want to open people’s hearts, I want to break people down emotionally,” Mack said. “We’re going about it that way to make sure that it’s so undeniably good that you have to listen to it.”

The 'Art of War' featured contributions from musicians and producers across the world. Pictured at a listening session (from left) are Bodhi, who engineered the album, alongside musicians Workrate and Norhan and Detroit producer Eddy Mack.
The ‘Art of War’ featured contributions from musicians and producers across the world. Pictured at a listening session (from left) are Bodhi, who engineered the album, alongside musicians Workrate and Norhan and Detroit producer Eddy Mack. Courtesy of Norhan
He ultimately included 12 artists on the album, including Chicago native and singer Norhan, U.K. artist Workrate and Miami native Jazlynn Q. Some artists traveled to Chicago to record, while others sent in their verses through digital files.

“We’re charging and we’re fighting, can’t get rid of us/ You know we stand our ground, we won’t back down, this land is ours,” Norhan sings on the remix to “The Sound of War.”

Fernandos Johnson Jr., known professionally as Bodhi, engineered the project at Private Stock and helped with the production. “I’m Black and Mexican. I come from similar struggles, fighting for your own land or fighting for your own identity and things like that,” Johnson said. “All these people coming together and telling their stories … I feel like fans are gonna get the best versions of these people.”

Making the album was emotional for Mack.

“I can’t sit here and celebrate and be so happy about things when there’s people still dying. As thankful as I am, I’m still not letting that blind me in my vision and my tunnel vision right now because my job is to change the minds and hearts of people,” he said during a recent listening session for the album.

Many of the artists and producers wanted to counter the hate they saw Arab people facing. Norhan, who is Arab American and lives in the Chicago suburbs, said she wanted to change the narrative about Arab Americans. “I’ve gotten hate, and I’ve gotten people calling us terrorists. I’ve experienced a lot of hate even though I’m not Palestinian. I know what they’re struggling with right now.”

Rashad Alexander is a Chicago-based journalist and an alumnus of Marquette University. He can be followed on Instagram and X @ruhshaaad.

Fernandos Johnson Jr., known professionally as Bodhi, engineered ‘Art of War,’ a new album that is a response to the Israeli-Hamas war.
Fernandos Johnson Jr., known professionally as Bodhi, engineered 'Art of War,' a new album that is a response to the Israel-Hamas war. Backers of the project say proceeds will go to relief efforts in Gaza. Taylor Glascock for WBEZ
Fernandos Johnson Jr., known professionally as Bodhi, engineered ‘Art of War,’ a new album that is a response to the Israeli-Hamas war.
Fernandos Johnson Jr., known professionally as Bodhi, engineered 'Art of War,' a new album that is a response to the Israel-Hamas war. Backers of the project say proceeds will go to relief efforts in Gaza. Taylor Glascock for WBEZ

Walk into Private Stock Studios, tucked away in a brick building in Chicago’s Mayfair neighborhood, and you will immediately see images of career-launching albums recorded in part on-site. There’s Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap, alongside Juice WRLD’s Goodbye & Good Riddance.

The studio is known for talentspotting, and soon another album will join its roster, one that is bigger than a single artist or group. The Art of War, recorded at Private Stock and released on the Chicago label Amal Music Group, features artists from across the world coming together with one cause on their mind: Palestinians.

“And just know this for my people down in Gaza and Ramallah/ And it’s free falasteen (Palestine) until it’s backward motherf****r,” Detroit artist Eddy Mack raps on his track “Sound of War,” a song that expresses his frustrations with the Israel-Hamas war, which has up to this date killed more than 1,400 Israelis and 29,000 Palestinians, according to the Associated Press.

The album, which was released Friday, aims to give voice to people living in Palestinian territories impacted by the Israeli invasion, with proceeds going to relief efforts in Gaza. As executive producer, Mack recruited Arab Chicago musicians and international Arab artists from as far as the United Kingdom.

The idea of an album supporting Palestinians came to Mack’s attention last winter when a fellow producer, Chicago-based Hani Mahfouz, reached out with the idea. Mack made an Instagram post asking his followers to tag artists whom they would like to see involved with the project. Two hours after posting, he received more than 2,000 comments with artist suggestions.

In late December, Mack flew to Chicago to begin the album process, claiming he would stay however long he needed to in order to get the job done.

Recording equipment at Private Stock
‘The Art of War’ was recorded in Chicago and released by a Chicago label, Amal Music Group. Taylor Glascock for WBEZ

Mack, who is Jordanian, wanted to be able to express his displeasure for the war in Gaza in a way that would allow people to hear the pain and frustration through music.

When it came to picking out which artists he wanted to involve, Mack described it like recruiting the Avengers. There were a lot of discussions, he said, about who to involve and what types of music they wanted to create. The final album features sounds from U.K. drill, hip-hop and pop, giving fans chances to hear a spectrum of music while still keeping up with the theme of unity and awareness of the invasion in Gaza.

“Nothing hits you more emotionally than music. I want to open people’s hearts, I want to break people down emotionally,” Mack said. “We’re going about it that way to make sure that it’s so undeniably good that you have to listen to it.”

The 'Art of War' featured contributions from musicians and producers across the world. Pictured at a listening session (from left) are Bodhi, who engineered the album, alongside musicians Workrate and Norhan and Detroit producer Eddy Mack.
The ‘Art of War’ featured contributions from musicians and producers across the world. Pictured at a listening session (from left) are Bodhi, who engineered the album, alongside musicians Workrate and Norhan and Detroit producer Eddy Mack. Courtesy of Norhan
He ultimately included 12 artists on the album, including Chicago native and singer Norhan, U.K. artist Workrate and Miami native Jazlynn Q. Some artists traveled to Chicago to record, while others sent in their verses through digital files.

“We’re charging and we’re fighting, can’t get rid of us/ You know we stand our ground, we won’t back down, this land is ours,” Norhan sings on the remix to “The Sound of War.”

Fernandos Johnson Jr., known professionally as Bodhi, engineered the project at Private Stock and helped with the production. “I’m Black and Mexican. I come from similar struggles, fighting for your own land or fighting for your own identity and things like that,” Johnson said. “All these people coming together and telling their stories … I feel like fans are gonna get the best versions of these people.”

Making the album was emotional for Mack.

“I can’t sit here and celebrate and be so happy about things when there’s people still dying. As thankful as I am, I’m still not letting that blind me in my vision and my tunnel vision right now because my job is to change the minds and hearts of people,” he said during a recent listening session for the album.

Many of the artists and producers wanted to counter the hate they saw Arab people facing. Norhan, who is Arab American and lives in the Chicago suburbs, said she wanted to change the narrative about Arab Americans. “I’ve gotten hate, and I’ve gotten people calling us terrorists. I’ve experienced a lot of hate even though I’m not Palestinian. I know what they’re struggling with right now.”

Rashad Alexander is a Chicago-based journalist and an alumnus of Marquette University. He can be followed on Instagram and X @ruhshaaad.