United Struggle Project
Giving a voice to displaced people globally through music. United Struggle Project aims to produce CDs/DVDs of songs, music videos, and documentaries recorded in remote communities slums refugee camps, and prisons in Africa, Palestine, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Australia. Help us bring these voices to the world.
I want to produce 1000 audio CDs and DVDs containing the best musical and video elements of my project United Struggle. It will consist of songs, music videos and mini documentaries that I have recorded and filmed over the past 2 years of United Struggle tours in slums, refugee camps, war zones and prisons in Africa, Palestine, Afghanistan, Cambodia and remote aboriginal communities in Australia. I am currently trying to source funding to produce these DVDs and CDs and send them to the artists involved as well as unleash to the world this unheard talent and stories of survival.
My name is Isabella Brown, founder of the no profit collective – United Struggle Project, rapper in Melbourne hip-hop band Combat Wombat and co founder of the Lab Rat Solar sound system. I’m a lyricist, performer and film maker. My latest film “Ghettomoto” premiered at the London International Documentary Film Festival. I presently live in Melbourne but have spent the last few years on tour with United Struggle project.
Donate a Beat
Producers from around the world delved deep into their hard drives to donate beats to host unheard voices of displaced peoples. I then took the donated beats to those artists in places with little access to beat making technology to collaborate on.
1. Record music and make music video clips addressing issues faced by displaced people with artists in affected areas, displaced by war, colonisation, development, poverty and environmental issues.
2. Create collaborative songs with representative artists from each place.
3. Create a forum for displaced people to express their stories through music and video and documentary making.
4. Create networks to unite struggles and create links amongst artists globally
5. To target racism in the broader international community with music.
Background and Inspirations
I was first inspired to do this project whilst I was in Kenya 2007 filming the documentary Ghetto Moto (fire) about the journey of a hip-hop spoken word poet after the post election violence. During the filming I was approached daily by artists from the slums in Nairobi to produce music videos of their songs. I noticed the huge demand and lack of accessible equipment and skills in video production for people in these poverty stricken areas. I also noticed a wealth of talent and wisdom.
I met a Rwandan refugee in Nairobi who got me to film a music video for his song One Nation Africa. He told me of many other artists like himself but who were still trapped in refugee camps. After the success and popularity of the music videos in the slums I thought why not try and reach artists in these camps and give them the opportunity to record music and communicate their issues through video. I had a very strong feeling that there was some incredible talent and insight hidden in these isolated places of limbo.
An example of uniting artists and struggles is the song ‘Bow Down No Way,’ a collaborative track between Shoeshine Boy from Mukurru slum and Adel from Star Studios in Nairobi with Monkeymarc (Combat Wombat) and myself. The video clip was shot in Nairobi, Melbourne and Alice Springs. It has had a good response and draws parallels between the poverty of indigenous people in Australia and Africa and unites their struggles.
Palm Island was a prison island made up of 65 different tribes displaced from their traditional lands. The people from Palm Island are dealing with similar social issues as the displaced people in the camps in Africa, Palestine and Cambodia, including overcrowding, poor health and tribal tensions. Today they are still suffering the effects of colonisation.
“I feel like a refugee in my own country,” Uncle Chappy, Aboriginal Tent Embassy.
I have been working in remote Aboriginal communities all over Australia since 2000. I have seen a very positive response from the kids and the community to the music and video workshops. They have proven to be a fantastic way for youth to voice their issues. Even though Australia is a very multicultural society there is a definite underlying racism that needs to be addressed in the cases of refugees and indigenous people. Music, being a universal language, can be a very effective way to address the issues of racism in society.
Another element of the project is the ‘Donate a Beat’ web site. This gives producers from anywhere in the world the opportunity to donate beats to the project via the Internet, Thus creating links with producers and artists globally.
My main motivation is my love for music and belief in social and environmental justice. Music can be used as a tool for change and education to break down walls, create common ground and unite common struggles.
With a suitcase sized recording studio in hand, my 7 year old son Bassi Brown and I will set out on a 2 year tour to record and collaborate on trax and make music videos in the far corners of the planet in refugee camps slums and prisons and remote communities. Help us bring these voices to the world…enjoy the journey