AfrobeatRadio’s Best African Music Release of 2013

AfrobeatRadio reviews & plays the best African Music of 2013 with producer Akenataa Hammagaadji.

1] BEST LIVE SHOW of 2013: Rokia Traoré at Lincoln Centre November 15th.
Song: Zen Live

She completely transformed the studio version into this bouncy, danceable romp. Plinking mbira & plucked n’goni buoyed by a solid rhythm on drums. Lose yourself!

2] Best Reissue CD: CANTA B. LEZA by Titina, on Sterns.
Song: Terra Longe

She can wring every last drop of sodade from the syllables as well as Cesária, but is not as well known. Pity. Her voice, the swirl of violins & strum of cavaquinho will leave you crying in your port.

3] Best African Diaspora CD: AYO by the Garifuna Collective, on Cumbancha.
Song: Dungua

A rollicking song of joy and happiness featuring ensemble singing and sweet guitar lines, propelled by hand claps and poly-rhythms on Garifuna drums. This is the essence of the Garifuna spirit.

Best African CDs: # 8 CHATMA by Tamikrest on Glitterbeat
Song: Takma

Put together rhythm laid down by bass, twangy embellishments on rhythm guitar and melodic fretwork and what do you get? The exciting & equally ravishing younger sister to Tinariwen’s LULLA.

Best African CDs: # 7 ALAFIA by Sidi Touré on Thrill Jockey
Song: Street Medicines

Flute, njarka and acoustic guitar melds beautifully with the rhythm of the calabash. Sidi’s singing is good but the background vocals of Leila wallet Gobi is the icing. Organic goodness for your ears.

Best African CDs: # 6 NO PLACE FOR MY DREAM by Femi Kuti on Knitting Factory
Song: Nothing to show for it

Solid drumming & impassioned vocals underscoring the depressing subject matter of the state of the Nigerian state.

Best African CDs: # 5 FLOR DE BILA by Neuza on Lusafrica.
Song: Djar Fogo.

Irrepressibly buoyant and uplifting coladera. Fresh sounds of an old genre, given a fillip by Neuza’s youthful, crystalline vocals. A gem.

Best African CDs: # 4 BANNINGSVILLE by Flamme Kapaya on Buda.
Song: Zouzou

Another way to think of rumba. The guitar work makes the difference. The sweet vocals are still there. And the tumbao. Can’t have rumba without tumbao.

Best African CDs: # 3 HOTEL UNIVERS by Jupiter & Okwess International on Out Here.
Song: Solobombé

A song from the Ékonda people of Congo. After the a cappella opening, traditional Congolese drums stamps claim on the rhythm & does not let up. When bass guitar & percolating lead guitar join in, the song becomes a relentless & unstoppable force.

Best African CDs: # 2 DIAMA KO by Bassékou Kouyaté on Out Here.
Song: Kélé Magni featuring the vocals of Khaira Arby.

The title translates to WAR IS EVIL. Indeed, this album was composed while the north of Mali was briefly controlled by Islamic terrorists. Driving hand claps, ululating women, Bassékou’s tinkling n’goni and Khaira’s impassioned vocals contribute to a stimulating & irresistible sonic palette.

Best African CDs: # 1 TAL NATIONAL by Tal National on Fat Cat.
Song: Kountché

Five and a half minutes of high octane fueled tour-de-force. Relentless, circular guitar licks, robust drumming & muscular vocals. An unparalleled winner!

Compiled by Akena Hammagaadji
Produced by AfrobeatRadio and broadcast on Dec 28, 2013.