On Tuesday, Oct. 10, I had the pleasure of attending a screening of I’m With the Banned at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinemas on the Lower East Side. The film, which was produced by Spotify, focuses on six artists from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Iran — the original six countries incorporated in
Tang Hitler 45’s “Muslim travel ban” — and how they traveled to Toronto to make music with American artists.
The international artists featured in film are Kasra V, an Iranian DJ and record producer; Dubai-based Syrian singer-songwriter Moh Flow, who co-produces with his brother, AY; Somali hip-hop collective Waayaha Cusub; Yemeni singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Methal; Sudanese producer Sufyvn; and Libyan singer-songwriter and musician Ahmed Fakroun. Each of these artists have a unique sound and sensibility, and are immensely talented.
Thanks to Spotify and Universal Music Group, the above artists were able to collaborate with American hitmakers such as Pusha T, Desiigner, Sam Harris of X Ambassadors, K.Flay, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and BJ the Chicago Kid.
And the music that was created is wonderful.
Interestingly enough, the music isn’t meant to be political. The artists simply wanted to concentrate on making good music. Apparently listeners agree: The Moh Flow and Pusha T collaboration “Options” has garnered more than one million streams on Spotify. Despite this, Moh had difficulty obtaining a visa to promote the film and music with performances in NYC and DC. Fortunately, it came through 48 hours before the film’s previous screening in DC.
“[The song’s success] makes it quite a bit harder, especially if you’re from where I’m from,” said Moh Flow during a post-show Q&A.
Afterward I was able to speak with them to let them know how much I enjoyed the music and the film, and wished them continued success — although there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll find it.
Here’s the tracklisting for I’m With the Banned:
- 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”
And although the project was conceived by Spotify, you can find all of these songs on all the various music streaming and subscription services.
Get into I’m With the Band: The film’s definitely worth watching, and the music is absolutely incredible.