We don’t pretend to be unbiased. We don’t pretend to be categorically correct (or at least, not unless the argument is particularly heated), and we definitely don’t pretend to have heard everything. BUT- the extended Afropop family does wrap its ears around a lot of the year’s music. So, we might be worth something. In that spirit, we present part 1 of running down the year, our thoroughly unscientific guide to what rocked our brains in 2012.
First up is Mr. Saxon Baird. Former producer of New Media at Afropop Worldwide, and now contributing blogger and producer for us. Here are some of his favorites from 2012.
La Gallera Social Club – Ecos Del Tercer Mundo Volume 1
This little-known Venezuelan gem is deeply enmeshed in their Afro-Venezuelan heritage but instead of merely rehashing old styles, La Gallera Social Club is pushing the music forward, folding their roots-laden sounds within modern sonic territories. It’s eclectic , engaging and beautiful. Best discovery all year.
Machel Montano – Go Down (Loudspeaker Riddim)
The Loudspeaker Riddim came courtesy of Dre Skull — an American-born NYC-based who also produced Vybz Kartel’s last album Kingston Story. Not sure what I think of his synth-heavy work but when Machel Montano is going in, it sounds mad.
Popcaan – “When Mi Party” (Summer Wave Riddim)
Popcaan has been the go to DJ filling Vybz Kartel’s shoes since his incarceration. Popcaan is not nearly as dynamic (or eccentric) as Kartel but he sure knows how to make an excellent, radio-ready dancehall pop tune. Best summer song in 2012.
Vybz Kartel – ” R U Ready” Ft Stylysh (Buss Up Riddim)
Kartel may be in jail awaiting trial, but that hasn’t stopped him from dropping a few singles. The super, XXX-rated, NSFW slackness of this single is the dirtiest song you will hear all year. Regardless of the lyrical content, the the hook is quietly catchy and gets stuck in your head, even if singing it out-loud in the company of others is impossible. It’s not a banger but it sure finds itself on repeat a lot.
Poirier – Soca Road EP
Poirier is a producer/DJ out of Montreal of all places. I guess that doesn’t stop him from looking towards warmer climates to find his musical inspirations. This EP came out early this year and threw down a nice balance between club-ready house and soca insanity just in time for carnival.
Tnght Riddim – The Heatwave Refix Featuring Mr. Lexx & Nikisha
The Heatwave is a weekly U.K. bashment radio program on Rinse FM. They also host Hot Wuk Wednesday and a bunch of other bashment raves across the UK. Every now and then they get into producing/remixing/re-fixing a track. This riddim is wild and all over the place and fits live a glove for the club.