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Best of 2020

Well here we are...December 2020....the end of the craziest of years!  

2020 has been a rough one for loads of different reasons. The world completely got turned upside down in many ways and the music that came from it as a result, was not only a reflection but a reaction to it all.

Despite all the madness, we were blessed to release two shining musical highlights. Minyo Cumbiero by Minyo Crusaders & Frente Cumbiero as well as Rastilho by Kiko Dinucci.

We love the concept of end-of-year best-of lists but are always a bit disappointed to see the same old suspects featured in list after list. So this year, rather than just moan about it, we asked some of our favourite curators to choose their favourites. Whether it's mind-bending J-pop, Chinese new wave, Francophone sexiness, kaleidoscopic Brazilian sounds or new Arabic/South Asian MCs, this page is guaranteed to introduce you to some vibey new music from 2020.

List compilers

  1. Lewis Robinson (Mais Um)
  2. CVN 
  3. Benjamin Caschera (La Souterraine)
  4. Sarathy Korwar
  5. Krish Raghav
  6. Meg, Moe & Muupy (Minyo Crusaders)
  7. Fab (Mais Um)
  8. Basel Abbas
  9. Alexandre Matias (Trabalho Sujo)
  10. Tristan Manco (Mais Um, art guru)

1. LEWIS ROBINSON (MAIS UM) - MY UNLUCKY 13 (BEST OF 2020)
"Shit year for the world, great year for music. These are the ones I listened to most (Mais Um stickers available here)"


IFÉ - Music for Egun Movement 1
A much-needed spiritual uplift

Minyo Crusaders + Frente Cumbiero - Cumbia del Monte Fuji
No other track made me as happy as this. And we released it, which made me even happier

Burna Boy - selected cuts from Twice As Tall LP
I slept on afrobeats in 2020 and then Burna gave me all I needed in one shot - check my redux of his album for your essential 20 mins of afrobeats from 2020.

Meryl - Coucou 
Loved this wavy Afro-club track - check Benjamin Caschera’s list below for more French sexiness 

Rosalia - Dolerme
I hope her forthcoming album isn’t just Miami reggaeton bangerz

Kiko Dinucci - Rastilho LP
The album of 2020. Released by us

Headie One - Ain’t it Different Ft. AJ Tracey & Stormzy
Proving that the UK rules the rap game in 2020.

Novelist - Major Player
As above 

Time Cow, RKTAL - Elephant Man
Shout to Fab (see his chart below) for turning me onto this - skeletal, somnambulant dancehall

Jup do Bairro - TRANSGRESSÃO
Jup + producer, BadSista drop some emotive slow rave

 ニホンゴ - Asa-Chang & Junray
So weird, so GOOD

Siti Muharam - Siti of Unguja LP
East African roots with a modern twist

Various artists - The Sun is Setting on the world
“Apocalyptic rebetika recordings from the 1930s through to late '50s. Songs of sorrow, poverty, loss and the general end of this god forsaken planet.” Says it all

Follow Lewis on Twitter

2. CVN's JAPANESE TOP 10 OF 2020
"List here. No Rank"


Yoyou - 202022
A song like water. This is a song that does not belong anywhere

Hitoshi Kojima - Shimenawa
A dystopian track that feels uneasy and lonely. But I see little hope.

JUMADIBA&YENKE - 踏切ODKmidnight
Invites strange dancing

Meitei - 花魁 I
"LOST JAPANESE MOOD"

〜離 - フォーミュラ
I'm unconsciously repeating this song

Kazumichi Komatsu - 海がきこえる feat. Dove & Le Makeup
At dawn you will see a beautiful beach

Le Makeup - 愛のしるし
Song of the year

Lil beamz - Light Speed DIO
I want to ride something fast anyway

PICNIC YOU - REALGOLDSPYRITUS
You should check out the music video

yuzuha - °+.*ʚ me ɞ*. +°
a lot of people are looking for the future

CVN is a Japanese artist/producer and the curator of EM Records' Subscription Double Suicide Zero compilation. Follow CVN on Soundcloud, Instagram & Twitter

3. BENJAMIN CASCHERA (LA SOUTERRAINE) - FRANCOPHONE ELEVEN

Barbagallo - La Paix
Barbagallo is the drummer for Tame Impala and is co-founder of Aquaserge. 


Jaï Rafa -Faux
Jaï is 20 years old and lives in Brittany - she also used to play for Ligue 1 football team En Avant Guingamp.


Daisy Mortem, Prohibition 2050
From our first allopop comp, this Bordeaux duo covers french underground icon Brigitte Fontaine in 2050-style!


Frelonzavo - Liberta
I love this track - a perfect underground urban hit, mixing many influences, from ghetto rap to raï music


Star Féminine Band - Femme Africaine
OK there's a great story here - Star Feminine Band are a group of 7 girls, aged between 10 and 17 years old, from Natitingou, a remote town in the north of Benin. In 2016 they responded to a local radio call out to take part in a series of music training sessions. Previous experience was not neccesary. None of the girls had come close to a guitar, microphone or drum kit before - but the music is  so good


Guadafrica combo - Moin ce roi roi
From Strut's Cadence Revolution, Disques Debs International Vol. 2, featuring French West Indian gems from the 70-80's. This song features one of the best hooks of this year, that "wa wa wa wa" lines, starting at 4:00.


Sally - Tout roule
Great mixture of urban rnb & classic-rock guitar, Sally sings in ways few could


Soumeya - La Misere
Great underground ghetto poser rap by young rappeuse Soumeya


Damso - Life Life
One of the most interesting MCs in French rap (he's belgian):"Why are you afraid of dying ? / death is good, 'cos nobody comes back from it"


Bande organisée 
Biggest hit in the history of french rap, featuring an all-star team of rappers from Marseille.


BONUS 11

Dadju & Ninho - Grand bain
Modern way to make french Chanson : 2 huge rappers sing on a production with almost no beats


Benjamin and friends document interesting developments in Francophone pop. Get lost in their Bandcamp. Their recent second volume of underground  ‘rap féminin’ is out now

4. SARATHY KORWAR'S 5 FROM 2020

Siti Muharam - Siti of Unguja
Breathtaking debut that introduces us to Siti and the incredibly rich sounds of Zanzibar.


JISR - Too Far Away
Find of the year for me, thanks to bandcamp. Incredible mix of jazz, arabic music and more.


Photay - Waking Hours 
My favourite producer at the minute. Exquisite, beautiful electronic music.


Awkward Corners - Dislocation Songs
Minimal, soft, hazy and introspective music!


Alabaster DePlume - To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals Vol. 1
Music therapy for the ears and heart!


Sarathy Korwar is composer/multi-percussionist based in London, UK. His latest album More Arriving is out now.

5. KRISH RAGHAV'S TOP PAN-ASIAN SONGS FOR PAN-GALACTIC HOLIDAY VIBES

Ts Bayandalai - 灰色公马
Gorgeous contemporary ambient Mongolian folk that both embraces tradition and resists being bracketed by it.


Scintii - Times New Roman
China's most exciting electronic artist - crystalline club music with a soothing fluidity.


Bow As Well - Why Sorry
A guilty pleasure - gossamer synth pop from a new Beijing indie rock band.


Hiperson - Crashing into Daylight
"Powerful spoken-word meets noise rock. Hiperson frontwoman Chen Sijiang is one of the country's best lyricists, and they're absolutely incredible live."


Sourtower - how many times?
"Quirky, surreal cold-wave pop that could only come from Beijing. One of the most intriguing new performers in the city this year, repped by a cute new label."


Berlin Psycho Nurses - Here Comes the Gangster
Just boisterously fun, rowdy drunk-punk indie rock the way China used to make back in the late 2000s.


NYPD 南洋派對 - 佳佳 (Gai Gai) 
A hilariously named Hong Kong band (NYPD is short for 'Nan Yang Pai Dui' or Southern Sea Party) that combines absurdist and satirical social commentary with furious bursts of guitar feedback. An incredible debut album.


Alongside Josh Feola, Krish is working on a comic book
 detailing the radical history of Beijing's musical underground. Follow Krish on Instagram

6. MOE, MEG & MUUPY (MINYO CRUSADERS) 2020 HIGHLIGHTS

Muupy
1. My band, Mumbia Y Sus Candelosos released two records, Hokkori Time / Cumbia Ducha ‎(7") & Azul Ruso / Obake Step ‎(10"), both on Okra Jirushi 

2. Minyo Crusaders performed their FIRST show in Australia & New Zealand at WOMAD !!

3. Moe opened Masako, a jazz cafe in Tokyo - her dream to open a shop came true! "

Meg
1. Minyo Crusaders released Minyo Cumbiero and the album has been listened to by many people from all over the world.


2. Mumbia's new 10-inch came out, which was super cool and Moe opened Masako !

3. We finished recording the new single for Drinking Hoppies, which will be coming out soon!

4. My parents had a happy 50th wedding anniversary.

Moe's favourite albums of 2020

Leenalchi - Sugungga
Leenalchi is a "hot tropical" Korean band. Among Minyo Crusaders, they became very popular.


Meridian Brothers - Cumbia Siglo XXI
Mu-chan told me about this band while on tour. Whenever I listen to their music, it takes me to a different world.


Korderanni - Woods, Bugs, Cosmos and Minyo
An album by MinCru vocalist Freddie and Akiyama, a shamisen guitar player. Freddie's voice is so powerful and charming.

Follow Minyo Crusaders on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter

7. FAB (MAIS UM) - 5 FROM 2?20

Mabe Fratti - Alguien detrás de mi
Off Mabe's Se Parce A EP. Cello/synthy niceness. 


Keyah/Blu - If You Know
Lighten your load. Take off that Italian Robe ?!?!


Nidia - Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes
<3 <3 <3


Midas The Jagaban - Party With A Jagaban
Another big vibe from the Jagaban


Chroma - Source Of Nurture 
Wicked album with a mad lineup. Proceeds go directly to organisations supporting BIPOC communities and undocumented workers. 2nd volume is v sick too! 


Follow Fab on Instagram

8. BASEL ABBAS - 2020 RELEASES FROM SOUTH WEST ASIA / NORTH AFRICA

Lil Asaf - El Burj


Makimakkuk - Jazirat AlKanz


Dakn - in the lack


PNGWNG - 000


KTYB X Madmob - ANANAYA


Haykal- Tisal (ft.Ranisalameh)


El Kontessa - Madrab Deban


Basel is an artist based in Ramallah, Palestine. Website. Follow him on Twitter & Instagram

9. ALEXANDRE MATIAS (TRABALHO SUJO) - 2020 IN BRAZIL

"2020’s been a weird year, full of haunting and dramatic Brazilian new milestones, classic acts streaming online and just 34 concerts for me, all seen in the first three months of the year! Here’s 20 great moments from Brazilian music in 2020"

ALBUMS

Guilherme Held - Corpo Nós
The psychedelic guitar hero and afrossamba aficionado took us into the black heart of the country.

Letrux - Letrux aos Prantos
The diva dives into the seas of deep sadness, laughing just to stay sane

BK: O Líder Em Movimento
One of the best rappers in Brazil today, his third album is a masterclass about political racism

Luedji Luna - Bom Mesmo É Estar Debaixo D’água
This goddess finally made an album worth her majesty: a lavishly black blending of soul, samba and funk

Acorda Amor
Five of the most poignant contemporary Brazilian female voices (Liniker, Letrux, Maria Gadu, Xenia and Luedji) visit a cannon of political songs from the country’s repertoire.

Mateus Aleluia - Olorum
There’s a submerged continent in between Brazil and Africa and the only stone we can see over the sea level is this old Tincoã.

Negro Leo - Desejo de Lacrar
An exercise about cancel culture, online behavior and how it’s affecting our days.

Emicida - AmarElo - É Tudo Pra Ontem (Netflix)
The story of samba, Brazilian hip hop culture, Brazil’s black political movement and what it means to be Black in Brazil.

Rico Dalasam - Dolores Dala Guardião do Alívio
Rico’s one the best new singers and composers in Brazil, reinventing R&B

Tantão e os Fita - Piorou
2020’s ugly face - look at it! Look! At! It”

Zé Manoel - Do Meu Coração Nu
If Tom Jobim and Dorival Caymmi were one pernambucano maestro . . .

Thiago França - KD VCS
Metá Metá’s saxman goes solo - just one take, no post production, no effects - just the man and his instrument, using it like a lamp in his cave.

Bruno Schiavo - A vida só começou
The untranslatable involuntary pun (which mixes “Life’s just begun” with “Lone life has begun”) 

ÀIYÉ - Gratitrevas
Ventre’s former drummer, Larissa Conforto metamorphosed into Àiyé, fusing electronics, percussion, ancient traditions and artivism in the same scale.

10 more? 10 more!
Josyara e Giovani Cidreira – Estreite / Bonifrate – Diversionismo / Cadu Tenório - Monument for Nothing / Carabobina - Carabobina / Joana Queiroz - Tempo Sem Tempo / Marcelo Cabral – Naunyn / Pelados - Sozinhos /Tatá Aeroplano – Delírios Líricos / Pipo Pegoraro - Antropocósmico / Fellini - A Melhor Coisa Que Eu Fiz (box set)

PERFORMANCES

Kiko Dinucci - Rastilho 
Kiko’s raw and gripping second solo album grew an extra dimension when performed live


Romulo Froes sings Transa with Jards Macalé 
Romulo crafts his deconstructed version of Caetano’s most emotional album


Luiza Lian + Bixiga 70
The meeting between the electronic pixie and the nine-headed groovy hydra works as a mythological tale.


Juçara Marçal - Encarnado Acústico

Juçara revisited Encarnado with no mics or amps and the audience onstage


Caetano Veloso Live - Globoplay
The professor gathered his sons to visit his golden era (1968 to 1992) 


Check out the Trabalho Sujo website. Follow Alexandre Matias on Twitter.

10. TRISTAN MANCO - TOP 5 ARTISTS/ILLUSTRATORS OF 2020

Tano Veron
El arte es imparable – Art is unstoppable – Paste up poster art by the Argentinian word activist and graphic designer 


Reuben Dangoor
London-based illustrator  known as much for his music-themed collaborations as striking visual commentaries on social injustices such as the Grenfell Tower fire and the migrant crisis.


Muhammed Sajid
Indian illustrator based in Bangalore futuristic mask illustrations blew me away - a great reimagining of the the ubiquitous facial wear of the year.


Traceloops
 
On the animation tip I've been inspired by US based animator Traceloops who create animations by hand to some great tracks... 


Diogo Rustoff
On the Brazil tip - an illustrator, stencil and tattoo artist from Goiania I would love Mais Um to team up with. Art for the troubled, for those who read between the lines.


Tristan is Mais Um's design guru. Follow him on Insta to get inspired by new art from around the world and buy his books on street art.