Selector Bobby Strange

December 31, 2009

Best in Global Beats 2009

Filed under: Bobcast,Music — bobbystrange @ 7:45 am

Below is a list, in no particular order, of what I deem to be the best records of 2009 in the broadly defined category of global beats.  Of course, it skews towards Africa and Afro-infused music, and note that I only include “bands” so much as those continue to exist, and not DJs, which would really warrant another list altogether.  I’m also including a mix of one track off of each of the records respectively, and purposely excluded tracks that appeared on any of this year’s inaugural Bobcasts.  For those of you who missed any of the dozen or so mixes I put together this year, you can check out the 2009 archives, which includes compilations of Latin, Funk, Hip-Hop, Reggae, African and everything in between.

As always you can purchase tracks on the mixes from the provided links.

Lastly, thanks to all of you who listened and posted comments – or told me in person you liked the music.  It really motivates me to get out of the daily grind of foreign policy and do something fun that I love.  Music.  Happy New Year.

Bobby Strange Presents:

Listen the Best in Global Beats Mix 2009

Right Click for Download

Baaba Maal
Country: Senegal
Buy on LaLa

This record came out at the end of 2009 and I immediately fell in love with it.  Maal, one of the kings of Afro-pop, teamed up with Brazilian Girls to make a beautifully fused piece of African electronica.  If you have not checked out the video for “Television” here it is.  I was lucky enough to interview Maal in New York City a few years ago, but he got annoyed with me because I asked him too many political questions.  No worries Baaba.  Keep making great music.  Track Selection in Mix: “International”

Fat Freddy’s Drop
Dr Boondigga & The Big BW Broken
Country: New Zealand
Buy on Lala

These dudes are just the smoothest blues dub collective in any town around the world.  They’re finally coming to tour the U.S. and aren’t coming to NYC, to the chagrin of many – though they do promise to be back.  I hope so.  Track Selection in Mix: “Boondigga”

Ocote Soul Sounds And Adrian Quesada
Coconut Rock
Country: U.S.A./NYC
Buy on Lala

Martín Perna of the Brooklyn-based Afro-beat ensemble Anitbalas teams up with Adrian Quesada to put a distinctively gritty Latin spin on the style that has swept the nation by storm over the past few years, climaxing with Antibalas stepping in as the house band in the hit Broadway musical…wait for it….FELA.  If you haven’t seen it.  See it.  Track Selection in Mix: “Coconut Rock”

Fools Gold
Fool’s Gold
Buy on Lala

I saw this Los Angeles-based Afro-pop band play at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn and they are legit.  The singer is a cool LA cat who sports a white suit as the band plays everything from East African guitar pop to West African blues.  He even sings in Hebrew to give it a pretty crazy sound.  Speaking of crazy, check out their video for Surprise Hotel.  Track Selection in Mix: “Nadine”

Imidiwan: Companions
Mali/Sahara Nomads
Buy on Lala

Tinariwen has been interpreting Western music to define the sound of Desert Blues for years.  I wrote about them quite a while back in this article when they first hit the scene in the U.S.  Now you can catch them on summer tours across the U.S., or if you’re lucky enough, at the Festival in the Desert in Timbuktu, an ever popular music festival in the heart of the Sahara that takes place annually in January.  Track Selection on Mix: “Tenalle Chegret”

Stephen Marley
Mind Control
Country: Jamaica/U.S.A.
Buy on Lala

I thought this was one of the underrated albums of the year.  It’s a really solid record, and Stephen’s voice is probably as close to Bob’s as any of the Marley’s, and a lot of range.  The production has a hip-hop feel to it, with tracks featuring all the (musicians at least) brothers Marley and one with Mos Def.  A nice listen, without a doubt.  Track Selection on Mix: “You’re Gonna Leave”

Staff Benda Bilili
Tres Tres Fort
Country: Congo (DRC)
Buy on Lala

The more I listen to this record the more I like it.  It’s got some really excellent sounds that get really spacey, reminiscent of some of the other sounds coming out of Kinshasa, and their story is equally compelling.  All of the musicians in the band are technically disabled and started off as street musicians.  Check out their story here.  Track Selection on Mix: “Moto Moindo”

Granada Doaba
Country: U.S.A./Spain
Free Download

My favorite thing about this album is that is was produced by an American dj with the help of a Fulbright scholarship from the U.S. Department of State.  Now that’s public diplomacy.  It doesn’t hurt that the record is a beautiful fusion of flamenco and hip-hop break beats.  And it’s free.  What’s not to love?  Track Selection on Mix: “La Senda de Abuelo”

The Very Best
Warm Heart Of Africa
Country: France/Sweden/Malawi
Buy on Lala

This was, hands down, one of my favorite albums of the year.  You can read a previous post I did on these guys here.  Caught them at what may have been their first U.S. appearance at Le Poisson Rouge this summer with some great friends.  These guys released a mix tape that gained a lot of momentum, and collaborations with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig and MIA didn’t hurt their indie whatever credibility.  Mostly, it’s just fun music.  Track Selection on Mix: “Kamphopo”

Country: Canada/Somalia
Buy on Lala

K’Naan was definitely THE breakout star of the year in terms of the global music scene.  His sophmore record, Troubadour, had a number of banging singles, and featured all kinds of collaborations.  K’Naan’s style is intense based on his upbringing in Mogadishu, Somalia, but the dude is pushing peace hard.  If you get a chance to see him live don’t miss it.  He rocks a party not to be missed.  That’s why we’re gonna close this out with him.  Track Selection on Mix: “Take a Minute”


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