Spotify’s 'I’m with the banned' unites artists in solidarity against the travel ban

‘We know that cultural tensions and injustices inevitably find an expression in music — and champions in artists’

Spotify is launching a new original series it calls 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."

The series, I’m with the banned, focuses on a variety of issues that impact communities today, including immigration and LGBTQ equality, through artist collaborations, performances and original content.

It debuted July 6 with a series of enhanced playlists that will feature music and original video content highlighting six artists from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Iran, which are the countries included in Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban.

The international artists include:

  • Kasra V, a DJ and record producer from Iran who specializes in techno/deep house;
  • Moh Flow, a singer/songwriter from Syria;
  • Waayaha Cusub, a musical collective from Somalia;
  • Methal, a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Yemen;
  • Sufyvn, a producer/beatmaker from Sudan;
  • And Ahmed Fakroun, a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Libya.

In a show of solidarity, these artists collaborated with US artists such as Desiigner, Pusha T, X Ambassadors, K.Flay, Dr. Lonnie Smith and BJ The Chicago Kid.

I’m with the banned follows an artist from a country targeted by the travel ban as they travel to Toronto for the 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,” Spotify said. “By the end of each short film a brand new song was created, and we realize what we stand to lose when we become less open.”

The I’m With the Banned track list includes:

  • 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 to hear more stories about immigration. The I Am An Immigrant campaign is focused on celebrating immigrant heritage and the value and contributions of immigrants and immigration to the US.

Pointing to troubled times in which groups of people have been excluded throughout history, Spotify said it produced I’m with the banned because “we know that cultural tensions and injustices inevitably find an expression in music — and champions in artists."

“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,” said K.Flay in a statement.

Sam Harris of X Ambassadors added in the release, “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.”

A full-length feature documentary will premiere in the fall.

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