What’s This Playlist About?: In the words of musical polymath David Byrne, “I assume I don’t have to explain where the shithole reference came from.” This is the avid cyclist/art-pop mastermind’s thoughtful way of exposing some of music’s brightest talents from what some people (ahem, certin presidents) deem the bleakest of locales. More from Byrne: “Here’s a playlist that gives just the smallest sample of the depth and range of creativity that continues to pour out of the countries in Africa and the Caribbean… can music help us empathize with its makers?”
What You Get: A whole lot of fantastically funky rhythms and sun-soaked celebrations that are undeniably infectious. Byrne starts and ends in the Caribbean, with the ’60s-rock-infused Cuban pop of Los Van Van, the dizzying drums of Irakere, and the heart-pumping beats of Haitian greats like Michel Martelly. But he spends most of his time exploring the rich, rhythmic traditions of the African continent, from Mali duo Amadou & Mariam’s hypnotic Afro-blues to Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab’s smooth Afro-Cuban grooves.
Greatest Discovery: Jupiter & Okwess’ fusion of slick Congolese rhythms and sizzling psychedelic guitar, with some fresh keyboard work from Damon Albarn.
Will This Inspire You to Catch the Next Flight Out to a Beautiful Shithole? For sure. And if you can’t quite do that, it will at least have you daydreaming of stunning subequatorial sunsets and crazy fun dance parties——all pleasantly far away from this D.C. shithole.