Perhaps their most ambitious project yet, Spotify have launched a new music initiative bringing artists from the 6 countries banned access to the US earlier this year to create music with a selection of American talent.
In every era and in every country, groups of people have been excluded for their differences and ideas. Today is no exception. But we know that cultural tensions and injustices inevitably find an expression in music — and champions in artists.
This is why today Spotify is launching its original series, “I’m with the banned,” a music initiative to empower artists and fans from different cultures to come together, and to amplify the voices of people and communities that have been silenced.
“I’m with the banned” focuses on a variety of issues that impact different communities today–from immigration to LGBTQ equality–through artist collaborations, performances and original content.
On July 6, this instalment will debut on Spotify with a series of enhanced playlists which will feature new music and original video content highlighting six artists from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Iran; the countries incorporated in the proposed travel ban. These international artists collaborated with American artists with whom they share the love of music.
Collaborating artists and record labels include Desiigner (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam), Pusha T (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam), X Ambassadors (KIDinaKORNER/Interscope), K.Flay (Night Street/Interscope), Dr. Lonnie Smith (BlueNote) and BJ The Chicago Kid (Motown).
Additionally, “I’m with the banned” brought together producers and songwriters to work alongside these artists. Producers include: The Stereotypes (Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber), Doc McKinney (The Weeknd, Drake) and Matty Tavares (Kendrick Lamar, BadBadNotGood). The songwriters who also participated are Clarence Coffee Jr. (Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez) and E. Kidd Bogart (Beyonce, Ryan Tedder, Madonna).
“Working with Methal was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had collaborating with another artist. Her story is so inspiring, and her talent as a songwriter / performer is too good to be missed. If she’s not allowed to come perform in the United States, then we’re all missing out. This song is a testament to that.” – Sam Harris, X Ambassadors
“It’s important for me to stand up as an American and say ‘I don’t believe in this.’ Being a part of this project not only gave me the opportunity to show support for those who have been banned, but to make music in a wild and beautiful collaborative environment.” – K.Flay
“I’m with the banned” was filmed across the U.S. border in Toronto and follows an artist from a country targeted by the travel ban, as they travel to Toronto for a musical collaboration – while looking back on the journey that brought them there.
It explores each musician’s personal story, and the complicated role that music has played along the way. As they begin to work with their American collaborators, music becomes a universal point of connection. By the end of each short film a brand new song was created, and we realise what we stand to lose when we become less open. The full length feature documentary will premiere this Fall.
The artists featured in “I’m with the banned” break stereotypes, bend genres and approach their art with open ears. Artists include:
- Kasra V – DJ and record producer hailing from Iran and specialising in techno/deep house, he hosts a bi-weekly radio show on NTS Radio and is a curator of the Dance playlist for 22Tracks
- Moh Flow – Singer/songwriter from Syria who co-produces with his brother, AY. While residing in Dubai and traveling the world, the 25-year-old has had the chance to harness his music making skills to release music consistently over the Internet.
- Waayaha Cusub – A Somali musical collective that organised the first international music festival in Somalia’s capital since the start of the civil war in the early 90s.
- Methal – Yemeni singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who learned to play by watching American YouTube videos.
- Sufyvn – Acclaimed producer/beatmaker whose electronic tracks blend American hip-hop and traditional Sudanese music.
- Ahmed Fakroun – Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Libya and pioneer of modern Arabic Music, influenced by Europop and French art rock.
I’m With the Banned Track List:
- Kasra V feat. K.Flay – “Justify You”
- Moh Flow feat. Pusha T – “Options”
- Waayaha Cusub feat. Desiigner – “Durbaan Ka Ii Tuma”
- Methal feat. X Ambassadors – “Cycles”
- Sufyvn feat. BJ The Chicago Kid – “Thinking ‘Bout You (Sleepless in Cairo)”
- Ahmed Fakroun feat. Dr. Lonnie Smith – “Salam”
Each playlist drives viewers to iamanimmigrant.com, a project of Welcome.us, to hear more stories about immigration. The I Am An Immigrant campaign is a year round effort focused on celebrating immigrant heritage and the value and contributions of immigrants and immigration to the United States.
“Music has always been–and will always be–for everyone.”