Art is Everywhere. A cliche phrase that couldn’t be more accurate in the world of art. Art is not dominated by a certain country or people; it’s shared and interchangeable through all cultures. We can appreciate the art of Frida Kahlo, the movies of Lupita Nyong’o, and the novels of Leo Tolstoy. Yet, Americans have an obsession with easily absorbing things. They like to stick to what they know, which is English. The most famous foreign musicians in America come from other English-speaking countries like the UK, Australia, or Canada. By limiting our intake of music and other art, we miss out on the rhythm and cultural implications of music across the world. Music is constantly a tool of subculture, political activism, cultural ideals, and trends. There is so much we can learn about others if we just open our minds to being okay with understanding less immediately (not knowing the language, of course) but appreciating more in the long run. So now I will introduce you to what I call: Sophie’s “Can’t Understand” Playlist.
Although the reggaeton beats of J Balvin, Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny, and Maulma, are a great cultural insight and just overall fun to listen to, Americans have a tendency to not explore the other depths of Latin music. If indie music is your cup of tea, I would highly recommend exploring the music of The Marias. This is an indie-pop band that has been described as the intersection of Selena Quintanilla and Tame Impala. They bring together a psychedelic rock beat with glossy vocals. Another group to look out for is Las Villa. They have a rap and pop fusion because the group consists of Columbian-born twins who’s work blended their own individual styles. Finally to wrap up the Latin American recommendations, if you listen to anyone on this list, I would prefer it to be Arca. They are a nonbinary trans woman who blends the elements of experimental music with Latin reggaeton and pop. Her music is something I never heard the likes of before, but she has worked with Bjork and FKA twigs.
Most Americans would say they are familiar with very little or possibly none African music. We love and appreciate the African-American influence on the music industry and would only further enjoy adding African beats and voices to our playlists. Nigeria is Africa’s fastest-growing music industry. Most artists blend the lyrics of English, French and African languages. If you’re looking for African beats that sound familiar check out Nigerian Afro-pop singer Yami Alade. Alade’s hit ‘Johnny’ made her recognizable across the music industry, even named one of the best African musicians. Another artist hailing from Ghana is Sarkodie. He is one of Africa’s most popular rappers with entertaining and upbeat flows and great collaborators.
Korean shows and pop music have been blowing up and are trendy in the US already. K pop stars have been winning grammy’s among so many other awards so we are very comfortable already. I would love to recommend Vava. She is a woman rapper in China who is working to get female emcees the recognition they deserve. If you didn’t listen to the words of her music you would believe she was on the American female rap scene. Now if you’re feeling something out there, Dir En Grey is one of Japan’s most famous rock and metal bands. They play shows across the world and their music (especially videos) is a bit creepy. Also, I know we are all listening to study beats while doing homework so check out Kmail Hamid, an Indian producer who puts together dreamy and rich beats of different paces.
I feel like most European music that Americans listen to came out before we were born. I’m about to put you on some new and exciting bangers. Firstly, most of us have heard of them after they won Eurovision last year; Maneskin is an Italian rock group. Their mix of Italian and English covers is so energetic and fiery. Next, is Albanian rap and pop music by Soolking. His music is dancing club vibes with lots of hip-hop beats mixed in. Along with the same wave is the Greek performer Sin Boy. But, my (super biased) favorite rapper on the whole list goes to the Russian rap duo MiyaGi & Endspiel. Their rap can be deep and meaningful with hits like ‘Kossandra’ or upbeat and pop like ‘I Got Love.’