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December 21, 2017


11. Lutan Fyah, Music Never Dies

Lutan Fyah - Music Never Dies

Lutan Fyah, easily one of the most underrated roots and culture singers in Jamaica, connected with powerhouse Virgin Islands label I Grade Records and its in-house production unit Zion I Kings for Music Never Dies, with predictably stellar results. Tracks like โ€œKick It Inna Africaโ€ and โ€œToo Much Ramshackleโ€ illustrate why both Lutan and Zion I Kings are so highly regarded by their peers, blending clean reggae riddims with informative and impassioned deliberations on identity and poverty. An engaging listen throughout. โ€” Jesse Serwer

12. Donae’O, Sixteen

The fusion of dancehall and Afrobeats is the thing right now, but Donaeo was way ahead of the curve with 2009’s “Party Hard.” Just in time for things like the term “Afro Bashment,” the half-Ghanaian and half Guyanese MC has returned to stake his claim to the throne of this emerging sound. The mixtape slash album Sixteen gathers material going back a few years like “Mami No Like,” an amusing look at relationships, and his latest banger, “Whole Life.” Musically, a wide range of genres are represented here, with dancehall and soca influences only intermittent, but Donaeo’s swag as being

12. El Alfa, Disciplina

Reggaeton returned to the mainstream in a big way this year, led by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee‘s inescapable “Despacito.” The genre’s Dominican counterpart, dembow, however, remains an underground phenomenon, beyond D.R., Washington Heights, and your neighborhood bodega that is. El Alfa El Jefe (El Alfa, for short) is the undispute dking of dembow, a gleeful prankster who propels his voice to absurd, cartoon-like heights. Alfa is the architect of his own sound, literally; his producers use his voice as a melodic element, embedding his cackles and whoops into their rhythms. Disciplina collects his top dembow from the past year, like the Bryant Myers collaboration “El Pegajosa,” as well as his forays into the exploding sound of Trap Latino. You don’t have to know Spanish or drink Brugal to see that El Alfa is a major talent worthy of much wider notoriety. โ€” Jesse Serwer