One of the best ways to live like a billionaire for a fraction of the cost is by exposing yourself to the best music from around the globe. Music has the potential to transport you to another time and place, whether you’re a working class hero or a billionaire.
And even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of so-called “world music,” I encourage you to check out the following styles. Whether a reinvention of a Western genre or wholly original, each is exotic and soulful in its own way.
Elements of jazz, funk, and indigenous African rhythms and harmonies. Repetitive, improvisational, high energy. Percussion, horns, bass, guitar, keyboards, chanting, and politically charged lyrics.
That is afrobeat.
Any discussion of afrobeat is useless without mention of Fela Kuti, the Nigerian musician and political activist who coined the term and was its originator. Influenced by existing African music genres and Western styles like jazz and funk (including James Brown), this veteran musician and maverick started performing what he called afrobeat in the 1960s. Fela’s son, Femi, has taken on the afrobeat mantle and is currently recording and touring. New York-based Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra is another modern-day practitioner of afrobeat.
The term Asian Underground has come to represent a style of music made by British Asians (of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi descent) that combines traditional music from their homelands with modern electronic dance music elements, as well as hip hop, rock, pop, and other genres. Many traditional instruments – including the sitar, sarod, sarangi, and tabla – are featured.
Talvin Singh, a studio producer and DJ who has studied the tablas, has been considered a main force in this movement since the beginning. Other notable names in Asian Underground include Karsh Kale, State of Bengal, Tabla Beat Science, and Asian Dub Foundation.
Sometimes called the Portuguese blues, fado is a soulful, sad, and hauntingly beautiful genre that originated in the streets of working class Lisbon nearly two centuries ago.
Traces of flamenco, as well as musical traditions from Brazil and possibly African slave rhythms can be heard in fado.
Accompanied by a teardrop-bodied 12-string Portuguese guitar and a classical guitar, the fadista (male or female singer) performs solo. Modern interpreters of fado have been known to stray from this formula, adding more instrumentation – percussion, violins, and even full orchestras. Check out Carlos do Carmo for an old school touch, or Mariza and Madredeus for more modern takes.