RIP Juan Formell, Founder of Cuba’s Los Van Van

We have recently lost many great musicians and artists, including Cheo Feliciano, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and now Juan Formell, the founder of Los Van Van, the band that changed Cuban popular music forever. Formell was also a bassist, singer, composer, ... Read more »

Madagascar Dispatch #2: Salegy Roots in Diego Suarez

We’ve flown to Diego Suarez (Antsiranana) near the northern tip of the island.  Diego has the deepest harbor in the region with a narrow opening that made it easy to defend, and hence the key to controlling the Indian Ocean ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Popcaan: “Love Yuh Bad”

Last time we checked in on Popcaan, the young dancehall hitmaker was somberly preparing for a photo shoot that never came in the video for the ironically titled “Everything Nice.” On “Love Yuh Bad,” the second single from his forthcoming ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Xyclone’s “Almost There” Mix

Xyclone has made a serious statement with the release of his brand new Almost There mixtape. The dancehall up-and-comer busts out 37 tracks over the course of this hour-long, highlight-packed mix. Relatively new to the dancehall scene, Xyclone is a ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

OkMalumKoolKat: Internet Jetset Zuper

South African rapper OkMalumKoolKat has released the single &#8220;Internet Jetset Zuper&#8221; as part of the Obey You Collective: South Africa Series from The Fader and Sprite. Oh yeah, it&#8217;s also his debut as a producer. Turn it up! We first featured ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Afropop Syli d’Or Award: Rara Soley

The final gala concert of the eighth edition of the Syli d&#8217;Or (Golden Elephant) concert series and contest took place May 1  at Montreal&#8217;s Cabaret du Mile-End. While we could not attend in person, we have been closely following the ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Video: iFani’s “iingoma Ezimnandi”

Although he has had his share of setbacks&#8211;including losing a major-label deal with Sony and getting carjacked and kidnapped&#8211; iFani has ascended quite rapidly to South African stardom. We covered that rise in last year’s “South Africa Today” program. After ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Field Report: Madagascar Arrival…

We&#8217;ve safely arrived in the capital Antananarivo (called Tana for short) and are enjoying a warm welcome with musician friends. The first night we were greeted by Hanitra, leader of Tarika Be (fearless leader for the Afropop listeners&#8217; tour of ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Explosion! Big Freedia Drops New Single

The best-known name in bounce, the New Orleans-based hip-hop varietal that&#8217;s received national attention for its gender-bending dance-floor frenzy, is getting ready for her musical closeup. And we can&#8217;t wait. Fresh from the first season of her (happily renewed) reality ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Free Summer Concert Lineups Announced

Summer&#8217;s almost here! Almost, &#8217;cause it is still pretty cold and rainy in NYC right now. But, hypothetical warm weather aside, one of the best things about summer in NYC is the host of concerts available throughout the city. And ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>


Funky Folklore: An Interview with Eno Williams of Ibibio Soundmachine

What&#8217;s the first thing you think when you hear the music of Ibibio Soundmachine? Well, if you&#8217;re anything like us, it&#8217;s probably something along the lines of &#8220;Damn that&#8217;s funky,&#8221; followed in short order by &#8220;Took them long enough!&#8221; Delivering ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Vybz Kartel Found Guilty of Murder

[Photo from Jamaica Gleaner] After two and a half years behind bars, dancehall superstar Vybz Kartel was found guilty of murder last night. The scene has been tense in Kingston, where hundreds gathered to chant “Free Kartel,” and riot police ... Read more &#187;

Love Songs in Somalia: Music of a Lost World

A couple of years ago, I received an email message from Lidwien Kapteijns (LID-win KAP-tains, like “captain”), a professor of history at Wellesley College. She told me she was a co-trustee of probably the largest existing collection of Somali popular ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Dj Rupture drops new Cumbia Mix

Globe-trotting, theory-dropping DJ/Rupture has just released a new mix of cumbia on his soundcloud page. And to our GREAT pleasure, it is comprised entirely of &#8220;cumbia cumbia, not nuevo cumbia.&#8221; Not to say that we have any problem with the ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Toumani Diabaté and Sidiki Diabaté Perform (and Record!) Together

A few weeks ago, World Circuit Records announced the first joint musical offering from Malian kora legend Toumani Diabaté and his son, Sidiki Diabaté. Simply titled Toumani and Sidiki, the album is out May 5 and the lead-up to its ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Field Report: Trova in Santiago de Cuba

CC Smith, former editor of  The Beat Magazine, has kept busy lately. In addition to helping us sort out all manner of &#8220;it&#8217;s vs its&#8221; -related issues, she recently spent a couple of weeks on the island of Cuba and ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Blitz the Ambassador featuring Seun Kuti: “Make You No Forget”

Blitz the Ambassador and Seun Kuti collaborate on &#8220;Make You No Forget,&#8221; released today on Jakarta Records. The exciting new track is the first single off the forthcoming Afropolitan Dreams. Blitz has been releasing a lot of outstanding material recently, including ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Top 4 Vybz Tribute Mixes

Vybz Kartel’s recent conviction for murder is a tricky subject. We don&#8217;t pretend to know all the details of the case (some of which actually went missing during the course of the trial), but what we do know is that ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Habib Koite Celebrates His Homeland–Mali

Habib Koite brought his new band to the City Winery in New York on March 6 for what turned out to be the best concert we&#8217;ve seen all year. The band is smaller and younger, and features Issa Kone on ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>

Drake, Romeo Santos, and the New Bachata

Sad to say, but we came very close to missing one of the most interesting musical stories of the year. Not because it was happening in a tiny studio Angola or Cairo or Durban, but because it came from our ...<a class="meta-nav" href=""> Read more &#187;</a>