Popular music is a global conversation where artists seek inspiration from all over the world. The internet continues to blur the boundaries between cultures and it’s getting easier to find exciting new music from cities around the world. Here is a taste (far from exhaustive and by no means definitive) of 10 local scenes we love, communities where artists grow up who are the vanguard of the future of music.
Seoul, South Korea
K-pop reigns supreme on the Korean peninsula, but in Seoul, a handful of young people who prefer overdriven guitars to synchronized dancing have created a buzzing indie rock scene. There are plenty of problems: a global obsession with what is the country’s main export, in the cultural realm, pushes rockers into the shadows, and mandatory military service can ruin a band’s career when it gains momentum. But there are women like Seo!Yoon! from SE SO NEON who are exempt from military service, or phenomena such as the artist behind the mysterious shoegaze project Parannoul, who managed to achieve international success and find like-minded people (like Asian Glow) to collaborate while maintaining strict anonymity. . Music always passes.
Artists to Know: SE SO NEON/So!YoOn!, Parranoul, Asian Glow, The Black Skirts.
Song to listen to: So! (황소윤) feat. rm bts, smoke sprites. The K-pop star’s nascent friendship with frontwoman SE SO NEON has come to fruition in this sultry collaboration: a ballad that oozes distortion and is sexier than anything BTS has ever done.
Few music scenes have been as devastated as Kyiv’s electronic scene as the Russian invasion from the east plunged parts of the country and region into war and chaos. But art is still alive, and the city’s once-thriving electronic life has been forced to adjust to new norms of explosions, forced migration, and terrible uncertainty. Faced with similar conditions, some artists such as John Object decided to publish an archive of their old work, not knowing if they would survive to collect it in the future, while Poly Chain (Sasha Zakrevskaya) went in a more aggressive direction. , a mirror of the scenario that looms over the city. Even though the war has forever destroyed what for some was one of the hottest techno scenes in Europe, the survivors are not going to stop.
Artists to Know: Heinali, John Object, Poly Chain.
Song to listen to: Heinali, Kyiv Eternal. This is the title track of Oleg Shpudeiko’s emotional tribute to his native city, collected over ten years of field recordings in Kyiv, which no longer exists.
Cumbia is one of the main Latin American genres, folk music that arose from the fusion of cultural elements of indigenous peoples, enslaved Africans and European colonizers. Colombian cumbia (like the regional Mexican sounds that are climbing the pop charts) is experiencing a burst of creativity, combining roots and modern production techniques. Bogota has always been the cradle of the cumbia, but the contemporary scene has favored collaboration and experimentation, which has seen bands like Frente Cumbiero and Nueva Estudiantina Electrónica enjoy some international attention, drawing on sounds from the diaspora and experimenting.
Artists to Know: Frente Cumbiero, Cotopla Boyz, Felipe Orjuela, La BOA.
Song to listen to: Front Cumbero, Espectral input. Mario Galeano’s band reflects the evolution of the Colombian cumbia, combining Moog, brass, electric bass and various percussions in a swirling mix that takes sounds from the past and projects them into the future.
After years of marginalization, Afropop has become a global phenomenon, with the African diaspora spreading the richness of its culture around the world. While the focus is on the city of Lagos, the ongoing migration between Nigeria and Ghana continues to mix cultures that existed long before Europeans carved up the continent. Artists like Mr Easy write music about the connection between Lagos and Accra, but the capital of Ghana has slowly developed its own identity. If the fusion of high life and Afrobeat King Promise flares up in West Africa, Amaarae’s velvety voice and her distinct ear, which led her to create a diaspora daughter with a unique taste, made her a well-known artist in the United States. where he spent his youth immersed in the sounds of American pop music.
Artists to Know: Amaarae, King Promise, Asi Reni, Kwesi Artur.
Song to listen to: Amarae, co-star. First single from his new LP Fountain Babybeautifully aged and with a harp base, sees Amaarae sorting out her potential love interests based on her astrological sign, seducing and repulsing suitors at the same time.
Decades have passed since the UK’s jungle scene originated in London at a time when rave was a revolutionary experience. This sound, a kind of hip-hop and techno with a touch of ragga and over 150 beats per minute, was received as well as in Toronto. Here and now, veterans like Marcus Visionary can enjoy a resurgence of interest as artists like Bambii bring this sound back to its original Caribbean roots.
Artists to Know: Gremlinz, Friske, Bambii, RCola, Marcus Visionary.
Song to listen to: children, one touch. The lead single from this up-and-coming DJ and touring producer’s new EP (we heard it recently on Crow Kelela combines the rawness of a Jamaican dancehall with the controlled chaos of a rave.
Consolidated into an archipelago, colonized or occupied at different historical periods by the Spanish, Japanese and Americans, the thousands of islands that make up the Philippines are a very diverse cultural melting pot. In the capital city of Manila, young people are following the voices of hip-hop artists like Shanti Dope, BLKD and Calix as they express their opinions, especially on the fallout from the fascist war on drugs led by current ex-president Rodrigo Duterte. In the hip-hop scene, where a simple joint can cost a death sentence, some artists have no choice but to become activists.
Artists to Know: Shanti Dope, BLKD and Kalix, Ankhten Braun.
Song to listen to: Shanti Dope, YGG The Amatz artist, one of the mainstream who spoke out against the war on drugs, is an Atlanta-style trap beat with an icy heart and smoke-filled lungs.
Pretoria, South Africa
The South African underground in recent years has spawned a new style: amapiano, which combines a mixture of deep house and lounge music with a jazzy sensibility, drawing heavily on the more upbeat kwaito music that has been popular in the townships for many years. decades. The Amapiano scene originated in Pretoria, where tracks were created using cracked software, distributed via mobile phones, and sold by word of mouth; but now it is getting too big to be kept in the province of Gauteng. Cubza De Small, the self-proclaimed King of Amapiano and one of the country’s most popular entertainers, has already attracted West African pop stars such as WizKid and Burna Boy into his orbit. Instead, the Queen of Amapiano, Sha Sha, is from Zimbabwe; she only lacks a performance with someone like Drake to achieve global mainstream success.
Artists to Know: Kabza De Small, Focalistic, Vigro Deep, DJ Maphorisa.
Song to listen to: Kabza De Small & Stakev feat. DJ Maforis, Rekere 4 (Reboot). Of the 16 tracks on the latest album Kabza De Small in collaboration with Stackev, 12 are variations on the title track. Rekere. The song is built on an unstoppable and persistent beat, with samples of songs and the participation of DJ Maphorisa, Cubza’s partner in the duet Scorpion Kings.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Dembow, the exuberant Dominican cousin to Puerto Rican reggaeton, has gained momentum and popularity long enough for his breakout stars like El Alfa and Kiko el Crazy to become classics. And yet, despite satellite scenes in Spain and New York, and despite performances and collaborations with megastars like Bad Bunny and J Balvin, dembow is always stronger in the underground arena than on the charts. In the bajo mundo (underground) of Santo Domingo, it’s the elements that make dembow unusable by the masses that make it so electrifying: stratospheric BPM, heavy profanity, and ever-changing local slang that is untranslatable to outsiders. In the latest wave, artists such as Tokisha, Gaylen La Moieta, and La Yancy Jordan carve out a place for women of color on a stage that has historically relegated them to the background. On Calle 42, in the Capotillo area, the aunts go crazy until late at night, young people dancing on rooftops or in the middle of traffic to the music of Flow 28 or Angel Dior.
Artists to Know: Angel Dior, Tokischa, Flow 28, Gailen La Moyeta, La Yensy Jordan.
Song to listen to: Angel Dior all in one. Angel Dior’s train-like rush is famous on Calle 42, but it’s recently taken a leap forward: Rosalia unveiled her recent hit AIO while performing at the Louis Vuitton show and apparently intrigued the French fashion house that inspired her stage name.
Alexandria remains off the beaten track for up-and-coming Egyptian rappers as most of them converge on the Cairo scene, which is full of studios and potential collaborators. But on the northern shores of Alexandria, a city of traditional culture, a handful of talented artists like Afroto and Marwan Pablo are creating rap music with a dash of mahraghanate, creating a new center outside the capital. The unprecedented success of Wegz, the most popular Arabic artist on Spotify in 2022, also indicates that the phenomenon is unlikely to remain confined to the country.
Artists to KnowStory by: Marwan Pablo, Wegz, Afroto.
Song to listen to: Marwan Pablo, El Halal. In this reflection on what is permissible to do, the crown prince of Egyptian trap shows us how autotune and Arabic pop singing can float very well on a throbbing bassline.
From the American magazine Rolling Stone.