Editors' Notes African pop icons such as Youssou N’Dour, Angélique Kidjo, and Hugh Masekela may hail from different countries, but in their own ways they’ve all brilliantly captured the struggles and joys of a vast continent. This playlist sweeps through the revolutionary sounds of the past 50 years, showcasing the ways that Afropop artists have used folk traditions, local dialects, savvy arrangements, and transatlantic influences to make music for their generations. In West Africa, Nigerian composer Fela Kuti crafted his Afrobeat from a mix of Yoruba rhythms, politically charged lyrics, and James Brown’s funk; further north, Algerian raï singer Khaled infused the songs of Oran’s rowdy cabarets with hip-hop beats and French hooks. Paul Simon, Talking Heads, and a host of other Western artists have also shaped Afropop for international audiences, raising thought-provoking questions about the politics of collaboration while crafting their own takes on Africa’s musical movements.

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