This has been a strong year for African music, with two big trends emerging. The first is the continuing integration of African music into the U.S. and European mainstream. Nigerian Afrobeat is played in virtually every major Western city these days. Africanized blues and rock acts continue to emerge in the U.S. and the U.K., while African-inspired riffs have turned up in the hands of indie-rock outfits like Vampire Weekend and jam bands like Toubab Krewe. Hip-hop is surging in Africa, but now African rappers in London (Emmanuel Jal) and Toronto (K'Naan) seem to be figuring out how to translate it successfully to the international stage.
The other trend is the ongoing unearthing of treasures from Afropop's "golden era," particularly the '70s. The two compilations included here are exceptional, but hardly alone among this year's offerings. Very tough to choose, but here's my year-end Top 10 (with one wild card).
Click here for more entries in the Best CDs of 2008 series.
Banning Eyre is senior editor at Afropop.org.