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Rewinding 2021 | World Music

I'm not saying these are the best albums of 2021. They're just the best ones I heard.


It’s not a small world after all. It’s a big-ass planet with more music than any one person could ever hope to hear — never mind compare and contrast with anything approaching authority or legitimacy. In other words: I’m not saying these are the ‘best’ world music albums of 2021. They’re just the best ones I heard.


Mdou Moctar
Afrique Victime

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “With Afrique Victime, prodigious Tuareg guitarist and songwriter Mdou Moctar rips a new hole in the sky ­— boldly reforging contemporary Saharan music and “rock music” by melding guitar pyrotechnics, full-blast noise, and field recordings with poetic meditations on love, religion, women’s rights, inequality, and Western Africa’s exploitation at the hands of colonial powers.

Mdou’s home is Agadez, a desert village in rural Niger. Inspired by traditional Tuareg melodies and videos of Eddie Van Halen’s six string techniques, he mastered the guitar and created his own burning style. A born charismatic, Mdou went on to tell his story as an aspiring artist by writing, producing, and starring in the first Tuareg-language film: A remake of Purple Rain called Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai — which translates to Rain The Color Of Blue With A Little Red In It — winning the approval of his family and his community. The word and the sound travelled across West Africa via mobile phone data cards, a popular form of local music distribution. Grueling DIY world tours and indie albums followed, including 2019’s landmark Ilana: The Creator, which earned Mdou an ecstatic international audience.

Music listeners are the beneficiaries of the staggeringly powerful do-it-yourself musical ethic of Mdou Moctar — the man and the band — who’ve worked so hard to bring the spirits of families and communities in Niger to the West. Afrique Victime sounds and feels like a Tuareg hand reaching down from the sky, and we are very lucky for this chance to get lifted.”


Tony Allen | There Is No End
BLK JKS | Abantu / Before Humans
Bomba Estéreo | Deja
Femi Kuti / Made Kuti | Legacy +: Stop The Hate / For(e)ward
Mexican Institute Of Sound | Distrito Federal
T.P Orchestre Poly Rythmo De Cotonou – Benin | Vol. 4 – Yehouessi Leopold Batteur
Various Artists | Cameroon Garage Funk


Alostmen | Kologo
Ancient Astronauts | Zik Zak
Azmari | Samā’ī
Balkan Taksim | Disko Telegraf
Baracutanga | Volver Atrás
DJ Black Low | Uwami
Dan Boadi & African Internationals | Money Is The Root Of Evil
Contento | En Lancha Pal Futuro
Toumani Diabaté and the London Symphony Orchestra | Kôrôlén
El Dragón Criollo | Pase Lo Que Pase
Electric Jalaba | El Hal / The Feeling
Guiss Guiss Bou Bess | Set Sela
Hallelujah Chicken Run Band | Take One
Shay Hazan | Reclusive Rituals
Ikoqwe | The Beginning, the Medium, the End and the Infinite
Intercontinen7al | Vol. 2
Invisible Session | Echoes Of Africa
Kuunatic | Gate of Klüna
Los Makenzy | Monstruos y Animales (En Vivo)
Mamaki Boys | Patriote
Manzanita Y Su Conjunto | Trujillo, Perú 71- 74
Spoek Mathambo | Hikikomori Blue
Onipa | Tapes Of Utopia
Nicolas Repac | Rhapsodic
Senyawa | Alkisah
Majid Soula | Chant Amazigh
Urban Village | Udondolo
Various Artists | Back Up: Mexican Techno Pop 1980​-​1989
Various Artists | Indaba Is
Wau Wau Collectif | Yaral Sa Doom
Meril Wubslin | Alors Quoi