Category Archives: Entertainment

Spotify initiates “I’m with the banned” Playlist, Empowers Oriental Music

A few days ago, while listening to music on Spotify, I came across an interesting playlist collection that was created and published by Spotify themselves. The title was “I’m with the banned” with the subtitle “When people can’t travel, music will”. This completely caught my attention.

After quickly scrolling through the artists and tracks in those playlists, I noticed one notable name. Ahmed Fakroun. One of the best raï singers that completely reinvented the scene by incorporating rock with his mastery of both oriental and western instruments. With such connotative title on the playlist, I instantly jumped on his playlist to listen to his track “Salam”, featuring the jazz organist Dr. Lonnie Smith.

20 seconds into the song, and I knew such a big deal this song is. So beautiful.

Mr. Fakroun being of Libyan nationality, is one of the targeted groups that are affected by the recent U.S. travel bans. Spotify has not only initiated this movement, but also empowered multiple artist from the affected countries and allowed open collaborations across international borders, welcoming alternative content that touches topics such as immigration and LGBTQ equality.

This movement is such a big deal, not just from a social awareness point of view, but also musically, an absolutely significant step toward testament of music being one of the everlasting mediums to connect people regardless of nationality or ethnicity. It is inevitable that all humans are in pursuit of happiness and a safe environment to nourish and live a prosperous life. And it’s great to see a company acting positively to raise awareness for a cause even though it could be considered being of minuscule proportions.

If politics is the inherited source of world problems, then music certainly will be a first step to amplify the voices of people. It has always been this way. And Spotify just made their stance on this issue.

Well done, Spotify.

Below is the playlist with all songs that were recorded for this initiative. There are a few shortfilms that were created for this initiative. Check out the YouTube Playlist to watch them. The films are also available from the Spotify app.


On July 6, this installment 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).

I’m with the banned on Spotify

“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”

Artist highlights

Kasra V – DJ and record producer hailing from Iran and specializing 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 organized 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.

The Spotify Blog

Budweiser’s Made In America Festival 2014 coming to Los Angeles, CA

Budweiser Made in America

The Philly festival hosted by Budweiser is officially going bi-coastal with simultaneous festivals in Philadelphia and Los Angeles for the Labor Day weekend.

Tickets run from $185 for a 2-day package to $599 for the VIP 2-day package, and the festival is being held at L.A. Grand Park.

The lineup (which is curated by Jay Z) for the Made in America Philadelphia will feature Kanye West, Kings of Leon, The National, Pharrell Williams, Spoon, Grimes, Chromeo, Girl Talk, and De La Soul, among others.

Unfortunately, these artist will not be playing at the L.A festival since it will be held at the same time and days, so the west coasters will be entertained by artists such as John Mayer, Steve Aoki, Afrojack, Kendrick Lamar, Cypress Hill, Wolfgang Gartner, and many more. Ain’t so bad, is it?

Budweiser Made in America Lineup 2014


Tickets can be purchased online at or These are the only approved ticket outlets for “Budweiser Made In America.” It is not recommended to buy from any other outlet as Budweiser cannot verify ticket authenticity.

Ticket purchase limits are Eight (8) Early Bird 2 Day passes per person.

“Budweiser Made In America” is an all-ages event. However, to enter the festival beer garden areas, you must be 21+ and have valid photo ID.

Official website

Budweiser Made in America 2014 Lineup

Imagine Dragons
John Mayer
Steve Aoki
Kendrick Lamar
Rise Against
Sublime With Rome
Capital Cities
Chance The Rapper
Cypress Hill
Gareth Emery
ScHoolboy Q
Wolfgang Gartner
12th Planet
Mute Math
Rita Ora
Nipsey Hussle
Dr. Dog
Terraplane Sun
ZZ Ward
DJ Mustard
Isaiah Rashad
Jay Rock
Grits & Biscuits
Will Sparks
Cut Snake
Scavenger Hunt
A Tribe Called Red

Chicago House legend and DJ Frankie Knuckles, dies at 59

Frankie Knuckles - Rest in PeaceIt has been reported that one of the absolute biggest pioneers in House music, Frankie Knuckles, has died due to ‘complications relating to Type II diabetes’ on March 31, 2014.

Knuckles developed diabetes in the mid-2000s having already contracted the bone disease osteomyelitis after breaking several metatarsals in his right foot while snowboarding in Switzerland, in 2003.
Against doctors orders, he continued to DJ and in July 2008, he had his foot amputated.
‘When I saw it was gone I had a good cry, but when I woke up the next morning I felt 1,000% better,’ he told the Guardian in 2011, ‘I didn’t realize how much pain I’d been in until it was gone. It was like all of a sudden the sun came out.’

Frankie, which was known as “The Godfather of House Music“, was born in the Bronx, NY but later relocated to Chicago where he played an important role in the development of house music during the 1980’s. He was active in the music scene for the past 40+ years and has contributed immensely to the electronic music scene. He remained active up until his death.

Frankie Knuckles performs during day 2 of the 2009 Electric Zoo Festival on Randall’s Island on September 6, 2009 in New York City.

Starting in the disco era of the 70’s, Frankie became a resident DJ at Chicago’s Warehouse Club and later launched his own music venue, known as the Power Plant. As the disco music declined in popularity, he soon started experimenting with various musical styles such as soul, disco and electronic music which later became “house music”.

His musical career consisted of several noteworthy collaborations, including Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Toni Braxton as well as a long list of remixes for Chaka Khan, Pet Shop Boys, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and many more.

One of Frankie Knuckles latest DJ sets was in 2013 at the Boiler Room in New York.

Rest in Peace, Frankie.

Kraftwerk’s ‘Computer World’ at Disney Hall, bringing technopop to LA

Kraftwerk pre-showThe excitement and joy among Kraftwerk fans could be felt hours before the show. People were tweeting about the show, and street performers took the opportunity to express their love for Kraftwerk and Electronica. Below, a video of two guys outside Walt Disney Concert Hall playing electronica prior to the show.

The show started just a few minutes after 7:30 p.m with the 1981 album Computer World. Prior to the show, everyone in the audience were given a pair of 3-D glasses that had been nicely tucked in a yellow envelope. The cover of the envelope displayed the retro computer with the faces of the (original) band members on the computer screen.
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Kraftwerk’s debut performance in LA: opens Disney Hall gig with Autobahn & Radioactivity

Kraftwerk LiveIt has been nearly 4 months since I announced that Kraftwerk will be taking the center stage at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. And last night was their debut performance, which included ‘Autobahn’, followed by ‘Radioactivity’.

The first set started at 7:30 p.m. and offered the 1974 release of ‘Autobahn’ which was Kraftwerk’s debut album.

At 10:30 p.m., the quartet took the stage again to perform its second album ‘Radioactivity’ from 1975.

And I am glad to have tickets for the Thursday performance, at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday’s first performance will be ‘Computer World’, which is one of my absolute favorite albums that Kraftwerk has released. I have been impatient about this concert, and can’t wait to experience the surround-sound setup with the 3-D graphics interchanged with glimpses of retro art. The excruciating wait is ending soon.
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