Here are some songs that I love despite the language barrier. If you haven’t checked out my Spotify playlist yet, you should.
Stan Getz – Saudade Vem Correndo ft. Maria Toledo
My love for bossa nova is well documented. Basically Astrud Gilberto can do no wrong in my book. This song is a special favorite because it was sampled by The Pharcyde for the classic hit Runnin’ (as well as Mya for Fallen).
Les Nubians – Makeda
One of the few acts on this list I’ve been fortunate enough to see live, Les Nubians is one of the first non-English-speaking groups I recall listening to. I struggled between sharing this song and Saravah, but this song has more nostalgia attached to it.
Lira – Ixesha
Country: South Africa
I discovered Lira on the tail end of my first trip to Africa, where I spent most of my time in Southern Africa. Lira sings in English, Xhosa, Zulu, and Sotho. I’m surprised she doesn’t get more play in the States.
Boom Clap Bachelors – Skynd Dig Langsomt
Country: The Netherlands
Many of you may be acquainted with the group Quadron which has close ties to this group (producer Robin Hannibal is a member of the collective and singer Coco O. is a frequent collaborator). You also may recognize some of their sound after Kendrick Lamar sampled Tiden Flyver for Good Kid M.A.A.D. City. This song, whose title translates to “hurry slowly,” is the first off of an exception album Mellem Dine Læber.
Ana Tijoux – 1977
I first heard this song, with the same name as Tijoux’s second solo album, during a montage in Breaking Bad and was immediately hooked.
LARY – System
Another example of a song that made me a fan. She may be the only (non-classical) German artist in my music collection.
Sauti Sol – Sura Yako
Another group I’ve been fortunate to see perform and in their home country! This song from their Sol Filosofia album was a huge hit.
Stromae – quand c’est
I want Afropunk to stop playing and bring on Stromae as a headliner. That would be AMAZING. He tackles some heavy topics in his work including in this song which talks about my favorite social media Twitter. He’s not a fan. Many might know his Papaoutai video which addresses him dealing with his father’s absence due to the Rwandan genocide. Just spend a while watching his videos. You won’t disappointed.
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