2011 in Review: Kyle Long's top albums

Seun Kuti's 'From Africa With Fury: Rise'.

Editor's note: NUVO contributor, DJ and Cultural Cannibal Kyle Long picks his top ten albums and shows for 2011.

1. Seun Kuti - From Africa With Fury: Rise (Knitting Factory Records)

This year was a huge one for afrobeat. Femi Kuti, Ebo Taylor & Orchestre Poly Rythmo all released great albums, but Seun Kuti's sophomore LP featuring production from Brian Eno was the clear standout for me.

2. tUnE-yArDs - W H O K I L L (4AD)

W H O K I L L reminds me of so many artists I love, from Joni Mitchell to the Raincoats, but it was Merrill Garbus' use of African music, like the Congolese Pygmy singing techniques on "Bizness" that really made me fall for this LP.

3. James Blake - James Blake (Atlas)

This is a beautiful debut LP from James Blake, mixing avant-electronica with a singer-songwiter approach to create a wholly original sound.

4. Ocote Soul SoundsTaurus (ESL)

Brilliant exploration of Afro-Latin music, from Ethiopian jazz to cumbia.

5. Helado Negro - Canta Lechuza (Asthmatic Kitty)

An ambient excursion into Tropicalia, Roberto Carlo Lange's lovely falsetto floats over abstract electronic soundscapes, while his songwriting nods toward the great Nueva Canción tradition.

6. Fatoumata Diawara - Fatou (World Circuit)

The West African nation of Mali ruled music for me this year. Bombino, Tinariwen and Vieux Farka Toure released amazing LPs, but Fatoumata Diawara's debut album caught my ear with its soulful, jazzy sound.

7. Africa Hitech - 93 Million Miles (Warp)

Spacek and Pritchard cover a vast swath of electronic territory, while reinventing Sun Ra and Ini Kamoze as 21st century bass music.

8. Shabazz Palaces - Black Up (Sub Pop)

Harsh, experimental sounds from the Digable Planets' Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler. Butler is still pushing hip-hop forward nearly 20 years after the release of Reachin'.

9. World Hood - World Hood (self released)

World Hood explore the spaces between Afro-Latin and South Asian music, using funky 808 hip-hop beats as their guide. Tracks like "Om Shanti" blur the lines between Mexican, Jamaican and Indian music so perfectly, it's impossible to detect where one ends and the next begins.

10. The Weeknd - House of Balloons (XO)

A surreal journey into the dark side of R&B.


Kyle Long pens A Cultural Manifesto for NUVO Newsweekly and in 2014 began broadcasting a version of his column on WFYI.

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