Arts & Culture

Spotify highlights artists from countries affected by travel ban in “I’m with the banned”

When people can’t travel, music will. Somali hip hop collective Waayaha Cusub brings unstoppable spirit to this collaboration with Brooklyn’s Desiigner. Watch their story in “I’m with the banned,” a new original series from Spotify.

Spotify showed its support for musicians from countries affected by President Donald Trump’s travel ban with an artistic collaboration called “I’m with the banned.”

The streaming service said in a statement that it wants to empower musicians, adding, “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.”

Spotify worked with Universal Music Group, who recruited big-name American musicians like Desiigner and Pusha T from the label, to contribute to the project. American artists and musicians from all six of the Muslim-majority countries affected by the ban — Iran, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya — traveled to Toronto to record new songs together. They also worked with songwriters and producers behind the likes of Justin Bieber and Beyonce.

The six resulting songs paired Iranian DJ Kasra V with K.Flay on “Justify You,” Syrian singer/songwriter Moh Flo with Pusha T for “Options,” Somali group Waayaha Cusub with Desiigner for “Durbaan Ka Ii Tuma,” Yemeni musician Methal with X Ambassadors for “Cycles,” Sudanese electronic producer Sufyvn with BJ The Chicago Kid on “Thinking ‘Bout You (Sleepless in Cairo)” and Libyan artist Ahmed Fakroun with Dr. Lonnie Smith for “Salam.”

In addition to the six songs, the streaming service will release a behind-the-scenes documentary that profiles the artists and follows the project in the fall. Spotify dropped the trailer and several short videos on Thursday.

Last Friday, a scaled-back version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban came into effect, stripped of provisions that brought protests and chaos at airports worldwide in January.

The new rules, the product of months of legal wrangling, aren’t so much an outright ban as a tightening of already-tough visa policies affecting citizens from six Muslim-majority countries. Refugees are covered, too.

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