Writer, researcher, translator, critic

Exist Yesterday.

Floy joy floy joy floy joy.

81 More Songs, 2018

 

I collated my 100 songs of 2018 pretty early this year, and even though I made a couple of last-minute substitutions, the final list was basically the one I formulated in late November. But then, once I'd finalized the list and written a few words about every song, I started going back and listening to way more material, venturing further into tropical pop — especially African and Caribbean — than I had all year. Some of the songs I only came to in December became some of my favorites of the year, and would absolutely have bumped others from the list I published if I'd known about them earlier; others I had known about but hadn't struck me as hard as they did on revisiting them now.

Hindsight, et cetera. But before moving on to 2019 or diving back into the twentieth century with Exist Yesterday updates, I wanted to try to expend a little bit more love on music from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Afrodiasporic Europe. The list below is not ranked, but divided up by language and region and sorted chronologically, and represents the kind of contemporary pop listening I intend to focus on in the new year.

They’re collected into a YouTube playlist here. Try shuffling it for maximum regional and stylistic interplay.


The Anglophone Caribbean
Dominated by Jamaican dancehall and Trinidadian soca, the island nations of the former British Empire might be the easiest way into contemporary global pop for an English-only speaker. I'm very much a tourist here, relying on established names and catchy hooks.

jada.png

Jada Kingdom, "Wull On" (Jamaica)

spice.jpeg

Spice, "Beauty and the Brain" (Jamaica)

shenseea.jpg

Shenseea, "Pon Mi" (Jamaica)

alicai.jpg

Alicai Harley, "Naah Done" (Jamaica)

fede.jpg

Fede, "Reverse" (Trinidad & Tobago)

kranium.png

Kranium, "Sidung" (Jamaica)

lume.png

Lume, "Waiting" (Trinidad & Tobago)

nailah.png

Nailah Blackman, "Games" (Trinidad & Tobago)

niyoka.png

Niyoka, "Privado" (Trinidad & Tobago)

popcaan.jpg

Popcaan ft. Davido, "Dun Rich" (Jamaica and Nigeria)


Anglophone West Africa
Nigerian afrobeats is inarguably the most successful and best-funded scene on the African continent, so much so that it often overshadows some of the other West African nations also making dope beats and crafting superb songs. I happen to have paid a lot of attention to Ghanaian pop over the years, which is why they're overrepresented here.

eazzy.png

Eazzy ft. Shatta Wale, "Power" (Ghana)

maleek.jpg

Maleek Berry, "Sisi Maria" (Nigeria)

guiltybeatz.jpg

GuiltyBeatz x Mr. Eazi x Patapaa x Pappy Kojo, "Akwaaba" (Nigeria and Ghana)

zainab.png

Zainab Sheriff, "Intruder" (Sierra Leone)

tekno.jpg

Tekno, "Jogodo" (Nigeria)

stonebwoy.png

Stonebwoy ft. Edem & Amaarae, "Pepper Dem" (Ghana)

becca.jpg

Becca ft. Sarkodie, "Nana" (Ghana)

burnaboy.jpg

Burna Boy, "Gbona" (Nigeria)

cuppy.jpg

Cuppy ft. Skuki, "Werk" (Ghana)

michy.png

Shatta Michy, "Spend Di Money" (Ghana)


Anglophone East and South Africa
Nairobi and Durban are probably the two cities best positioned to rival Lagos for high-quality output of contemporary pop music, but Dar es Salaam and Kampala shouldn't be counted out. I've only begun to scratch the surface here: these various scenes will probably take up a lot of my time in 2019. (If your IP address identifies you as outside the US you can watch the Lady Zamar and TDK Macassette videos.)

zamar.png

Lady Zamar, "Collide" (South Africa)

vinka.jpg

Vinka, "Love Doctor" (Uganda)

maphorisa.jpg

DJ Maphorisa & DJ Shimza ft. Moonchild Sanelly, "Makhe" (South Africa)

Fena Gitu, "Ndigithia (Miss Me With It)" (Kenya)

sheebah.png

Sheebah, "Mummy Yo" (Uganda)

tdk.jpg

TDK Macassette ft. Mnqobi Yaso, "Domoroza" (South Africa)

kaybee.jpg

Prince Kaybee ft. Busiswa & TNS, "Banomoya" (South Africa)

apass.jpg

A Pass, Rouge & Fik Fameica ft. DJ Maphorisa, "Midnight Drum" (Uganda and South Africa)

dom.png

Dom ft. Gabu & Bandanah, "Chupa" (Kenya)

tamy.png

Tamy, "Tekere" (Tanzania)


Lusophone Africa
The African scene I've spent the most time with over the past half-decade has undoubtedly been Angola's; I learned to read Portuguese in part because of kuduro, kizomba, and semba. Other former Portuguese African colonies are inevitably part of the same linguistic musical community, for which I have maybe more affection than any other in the world.

paulo.png

Paulo Flores, "Mariana Yo" (Angola)

dino.jpg

Dino D'Santiago, "Nôs Funaná" (Cape Verde)

josslyn.png

Josslyn, "Não Deixa Morrer" (Cape Verde)

aline.png

Aline Frazão, "Peit Ta Segura" (Angola)

chelsy.png

Chelsy Shantel, "Bloqueio" (Angola)

pongo.jpg

Pongo, "Baia" (Portugal)

blaya.png

Blaya ft. Deejay Telio, "Eu Avisei" (Portugal and Angola)

neide.png

Neide Sofia ft. Liriany Castro, "É Male?" (Angola)

loony.png

Loony Johnson, "Fla La Nos É Kenha" (Cape Verde)

Ellputo ft. Wazimbo, Neyma, Laylizzy, Anita Macuâcua, Blaze, Twenty Fingers, Ubakka, Hernâni, Júlia Duarte, & Roberto Chitsonzo Jr., "Não Ouve Dizer"(Mozambique)


Lusophone America
Okay, yes, Lusophone America is just Brazil. But "just Brazil" is an oxymoron: in the entire world, only the United States has a more diverse, far-reaching, and well-funded pop-music ecosystem. When I started whittling down songs to put on this list, Brazil had the most to choose from by an order of magnitude. And I still ended up including several artists from my main list, because biases.

clau.png

Clau, "Relaxa" (Brazil)

jojo.png

Jojo Maronttinni, "Vou Com Tudo" (Brazil)

mateus.png

Mateus Carrilho, "Privê" (Brazil)

gloria.png

Gloria Groove ft. Léo Santana, "Arrasta" (Brazil)

jaloo.png

Jaloo ft. MC Tha, "Céu Azul" (Brazil)

iza.png

IZA, "Dona de Mim" (Brazil)

johnny.jpg

Johnny Hooker ft. Gaby Amarantos, "Corpo Fechado" (Brazil)

MC Rebecca, "Coça de Rebecca" (Brazil)

MC Pocahontas & MC Mirella, "Quer Mais?" (Brazil)

Karol Conka, "Vogue do Gueto" (Brazil)


Francophone Africa & Caribbean
At some point I hope to be able to have enough of a grounding in the various former colonies and current overseas departments of France to separate Africa from the Caribbean; for now, I still have to throw it all together in the same pot.

safary.png

Safary, "Faut Pas Forcer" (Senegal)

tracy.jpg

Tracy Magic Girls, "M'anvi We Yo" (Haiti)

shanl.jpg

Shan'L, "Tchizambengue" (Gabon)

Ninita, "Na Kipakakokolo" (Cameroon)

denatora.png

Denatora, "Verrouillé" (France)

yalevis.png

Ya Levis, "Katchua" (DR Congo)

phyllisia.png

Phyllisia Ross, "Pi Bon" (Haiti)

teyah.png

Teeyah, "T'es Pas Méchant" (Côte d'Ivoire)

keyssy.png

Keyssy Rowland, "Gwadloup" (Guadeloupe)

stony.png

Stony, "Monsieur" (Martinique)


The Hispanophone Caribbean
Breaking up Spanish-speaking Latin America between three Caribbean islands and some dozen nations taking up the greater part of a continent is pretty indefensible; or would be if Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba weren't, well, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. (Which is also to say, if New York and Miami weren't New York and Miami.) Plus: getting into contemporary Cuban pop is maybe the least of the ways to stick it to the current occupant of the White House, but it is a way.

yankee.jpg

Daddy Yankee "Dura" (Puerto Rico)

vakero.png

Vakeró, "Guateque" (Dominican Republic)

Audri Nix, "Complicado" (Puerto Rico)

mariah.png

Mariah, "Blah" (Puerto Rico)

laritza.jpg

Laritza Bacallao, "Como Cambia la Vida" (Cuba)

osmani.jpg

Osmani García, "Cubaton" (Cuba)

chimala.png

Chimbala, "Tumbala" (Dominican Republic)

ceky.png

Ceky Viciny ft. Pamela Li, "Dema" (Dominican Republic)

bunny.png

Bad Bunny, "Solo De Mi" (Puerto Rico)

yonki.png

El Yonki ft. Zantana & Will, "Lo Que Me Hiciste Me Gusto" (Cuba)


The Hispanophone Mainland
Of course any survey that takes in Mexico City at one end and Buenos Aires at another (with a cameo from Cadiz to the east) is going to be more stylistically diverse than the reggaeton-dembow-Latin trap-happy Caribbean; but the sweet spot in the middle, Colombia, is (as it was in my main list) the most well-represented Latin American country here.

sebastian.png

Sebastián Yatra, "No Hay Nadie Más" (Colombia)

yera.png

Yera & Trapical, "Borracha" (Colombia)

tomasa.jpg

Tomasa del Real, "Barre con el Pelo" (Chile)

mitre.png

Mitre, "Los Santos Del Amor" (Mexico)

melody.png

Melody, "Parapapá" (Spain)

lele.png

Lele Pons, "Celoso" (Venezuela)

Lali ft. Pabllo Vittar, "Caliente" (Argentina and Brazil)

j.png

J Balvin, "Reggaeton" (Colombia)

maite.png

Maite Perroni & Reykon "Bum Bum Dale Dale" (Mexico and Colombia)

mayra.png

Mayra Goñi, "Karma" (Peru)

Hispanophone Africa
Finally, a single song by a single performer from the single tiny Spanish-speaking nation on the African continent: musically it has more in common with African Francophone or Lusophone music than with Latin American music, but it's still in Spanish, and I intend to seek out more where it came from.

vanilla.png

Vanilla Karr, "Tu Me Manques" (Equatorial Guinea)

 
 
Jonathan Bogart#pop2010s