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