Best Global Music releases of 2021 (Part 2)

K-POP BAND STAYC
STAYC (Photo: High Up Entertainment)

WAT presents the second and final part of the best global music albums and EPs from the past year. Read part one here and as always, the accompanying Spotify playlist can be found at the bottom of the page.

Samuraï – CrushCrushCrush

Indie pop with a bite. Samuraï is a rising talent on the Madrid music scene and her debut EP is brimming with angst and chaotic energy about falling in and out of love. The songs are well-produced with snappy basslines and catchy hooks. The dreamy and open chorus of No quiero pensar is particularly lovely.

Best track: No quiero pensar, Tirando Balas

Stan Walker – Te Arohanui

The material all comes from Walker’s repertoire, but the new te reo Māori translations add new colour and a personal depth to his greatest English-language hits. Released for Māori language week in New Zealand, expect lush harmonies, silky RnB and rousing singalong choruses.

Best track: Aotearoa (feat. Ria Hall, Troy Kingi, Maisey Rika)

SRAYC – Stereotype

Tipped as the next K-pop act to go global, the sextet’s new EP is bouncy, sugar sweet and effortlessly slick. The four track release flits between teen pop and rap, giving the mini-album enough variety to keep them fresh and setting them apart from the other girl groups on the scene. 

Best track: SLOW DOWN, STEREOTYPE

Omar Pene – Climat

One of Senegal’s most iconic musicians, once frontman of the legendary band Super Diamono, released his first solo music in 8 years to draw attention to the most pressing issues of our era. His soft voice touches on the climate crisis and terrorism, and his songs incorporate Senegalese mbalax rhythms and jazz.

Best track: Lu Tax ft. Faada Freddy, Wolou

Rkomi – TAXI DRIVER

The concept behind the Italian rapper’s chart-topping album is based on Martin Scorsese’s classic film Taxi Driver. The taxi is a transitory space to exchange ideas and joining the driver for a ride are indie singer Tommaso Paradaiso for the dreamy HO SPENTI IL CIELO, Tommy Dali for the Weeknd-inspired SOLO CON ME and more.

Best track: SOLO CON ME, HO SPENTI IL CIELO

Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime

Inspired by his Toureg heritage in Niger, Mahamadou Souleymane is the driving force leading the band Mdou Moctar. The album opens with an explosion of electric guitar shredding swirling into a feverish crescendo on Chismiten. Elsewhere, slower songs such as the gentle Tala Tannam are equally as captivating, while the title track deplores continuing colonial exploitation. Electrifying and thrilling from start to finish.

Best track: Chismiten

Nicki Nicole – Parte de Mi

The title track takes it’s cues from Billie Eilish but her versatility takes the Argentinian artist into a league of her own. Nicole shifts from smooth RnB, to razor-sharp trap to upbeat reggaeton and collaborators including Rauw Alejandro, Mon Laferte and Bizarrap add their signature sound on the tracks too.

Best track: Tengo To (ft. Ptazeta, Snow Tha Product)

Nytt Land – Ritual

Ritual is a primordial and immersive experience, plunging us deep into the frost-bitten plains of rural Siberia. Think Tuvan throat singing, shamanic chanting, hypnotic talharpa melodies (viking violin) and pounding drums. Truly brilliant.

Best track: Ritual, U-Gra

Toumastine – Assouf

No studio? Not an issue for Nigerian band Toumastine who built their own from scratch and relied on online tutorials to learn how to use the recording equipment. Assouf is the remarkable fruit of their labour. From the desert blues meets reggae with a sprinkling of 60s rock organ banger, Hegh Tenerenin (In my desest), to the mesmerising Tarha Tasidwalt (Love is a harvest), this release is a real gem. 

Best track: Hegh Tenerenin, Tarha Tasidwalt

Youssoupha – Neptune Terminus

Cementing his place as the reigning king of French rap, Youssoupha’s latest album features collaborations with Gaël Faye, Josman and Jok’air. He invites these collaborators into his universe as he eloquently expresses his ideas on religion, society and space, all delivered through his characteristic smooth flow.

Best track: ASTRONAUTE, INTERSTELLAR (ft. Gaël Faye)

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