2014 is almost a rap, which means many things on many levels but as a DJ, it’s definitely time to sum up the situation in the form of a best-of list. That’s exactly what we’ve done here on Sound Travels and I’ve got part one of the top 16 global cuts of 2014!
If sixteen seems like an arbitrary number, that’s because it is; I’d’ve loved to have got to twenty or thirty (cause I have many loves) but in two hours of mixtape, playing two or three from each artist/release, sixteen was all that would fit. Please don’t read into the order of artists, there aren’t rankings per se, just releases I thought were strong enough to be in the discussion.
In this first part, we hear a pair from the godfather of Afrobeat, Tony Allen. His album Film of Life shows the world that at 74, Allen still has plenty to play and some to say. The hit is his collaborative “Coming Home,” which features former Blur frontman Damon Albarn on vocals. On “Mojo,” Allen joins another legend, creator of perhaps the first “world” music hit Manu Dibango, on an instrumental heater worthy of his “Soul Makossa” fame.
Russo Passapusso is a Brazilian talent to watch! As the frontman for the amazing outfit BaianaSystem, he already sits on the vanguard of new Brazilian music. On Paraiso Miragem (which you can get for free here), he showcases his chops. Schooled in Brazilian and particularly Bahian sounds he proves adept at mingling that with hip hop, afrobeat, funk and reggae. This one was a paticularly excellent late 2014 release and highly recommended!
Both Captain Planet and Quantic made the mixtape on the strength of releases that have a distictive multi-culti vibe. Captain Planet is a globe-spanning producer whose strength is is mind-bogglingly diverse palette. A palette on full display on his Esperanto Slang release from the middle of the year. With a bevy of collaborations, the songs come in hot and cover Turkish funk, Brazilian samba, South African kwaito and electro boogie; every song is amazing here… And Quantic’s Magnetica is similar in its well-rounded sound and many collaborations. Will Holland, the man that is known as Quantic, has teamed up with Cumbia pioneers Annibal Velasquez and Michi Sarimento on some new cumbias and in the Best Of mix, soul slinger Alice Russell on the rollicking “You Will Return” which keeping the tribe vibes alive with a bit of Colombian folk fit for the present on the lyrically bubby “Duvido.”
Argentine nu-cumbia maestro Chancha Via Circuito hit us again in 2014 with his tripnotic psychedelic cumbias. Like an ayahuasca trip through a spiritual desert, Amansara is another showcase for this futuristic dub drenched forrays into a possible future of cumbia. Italy’s finest reggae performer Alborosie, struck with one of the finest reggae releases of 2014, the double disc called Specialist Presents Alborosie and Friends. Though the title is bland, the concept is nice as Alborosie has temed up with a veritable whos-who of Jamaican masters and sore modern stars to rework some of their best songs and craft a few new ones. From Black Uhuru to Dennis Brown and Etana to Busy Signal, Alborosie has done what few in the single-driven reggae world have done lately; which is create a good album from start to finish.
I didn’t know trap music was a thing in Brazil till I heard Karol Conka and boy are they a doozy. Batuk Freak, the groups debut album is not only good Brazilian trap it’s some of the best trap I’ve ever heard. Nevermind the language barrier, the swagger Karol Conka has is undeniable and Batuk Freak is one of those albums that you put on to get pumped up. Dope stuff…
Check out part one of the best in global music here and look out for part two next week…