Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:


> Dec 13 2012

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012: - Groove
By Exclaim! StaffIt was a breakout year for Soul, R&B and rhythm-based world music. We were definitely spoilt for choice in 2012, and it was a tough decision to name a favourite... Wait, no it wasn't. This year's top Groove album was a bit of a shoo-in, but in any other year, the competition would have been fierce. Very fierce.

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012: Groove:

14. Maga Bo
Quilombo do Futuro
(Post World Industries)

Tropical bass continued to thrive and mutate in 2012 and Maga Bo's Quilombo De Futuro (together with its companion remix album) was the standard in long playing efforts. It's a bit amusing to talk about the best full-length release in a field that relies almost exclusively on one-off tracks or even stems to be assembled in a live mix by DJs. But Maga Bo has delivered the whole package: a tremendous knowledge of culture, a sharp outlook on how to construct not just grooves but songs, and a record that speaks to Brazil and the world with equal fluency. To the casual fan of Brazilian music, there's a yawning disconnect between the sexy sounds of samba and bossa nova and the stiffly modern sounds of funk carioca and other Brazilian electronic music. Quilombo De Futuro explodes the very notion that there's a disconnect between the past and future. A funk track like "Piloto De Fuga" gains a great deal from sandpapery shakers, which glue the no-nonsense beats to a slinkier groove, whereas the remake of MC Zulu's "Immigrant Visa" opens the throttle full in an ecstatic samba explosion. A second reason for the album's triumph is that it successfully employs non-Brazilian vocalists like Jahdan Blakkamoore to both reflect what Brazilian producers are listening to and how they intersect with broader currents in world music 2.0.
David Dacks

13. Souljazz Orchestra

Ottawa's the Souljazz Orchestra celebrated ten years together with their best release yet, Solidarity. Where 2010's Rising Sun was a somewhat reserved, all-instrumental, all-acoustic affair, Solidarity is a raucous, electric, conscious party of an album, with vocal-oriented compositions showcasing a diverse selection of Canadian-based singers including Senegalese griot El Hadji "Elage" M'baye, Brazilian Rommel Teixeira Ribeiro and Slim Moore (of the Mar-Kays), pushing the sextet's trademark fusion of Afrobeat, tropical, Caribbean, Latin and Brazilian sounds with North American funk, jazz and soul to a new level. The collaborations are more inspired than predictable: while one may expect James Brown-ian funk from Moore's "Kingpin," it's a scorcher of dread, conscious reggae that admonishes gun violence while "Bibinay" is a trance-inducing Afrobeat funk meditation with M'baye's call and response vocals adding poignancy to its theme of diasporic life. The collective's concern with social injustice is brought to the fore with the furious, righteous indignation of "Serve & Protect," a frenzied marriage of Latin and Afrobeat rhythms that would have made Fela proud. All the while, they deliver the most electrifying grooves of their career thus far, capturing the vibe of their acclaimed live show thanks to a raw, monophonic mix, allowing the musicians to blossom to full-effect. Afrobeat or world fusion bands are a dime a dozen these days, and the electrifying Solidarity shows why the Souljazz Orchestra are a cut above the rest.
Matt Bauer

12. Zaki Ibrahim
Every Opposite

A few years ago, Vancouver, BC-born Ibrahim eschewed the significant buzz and momentum surrounding her soulful EPs and visually striking live shows and settled in her father's homeland of South Africa to plot her next creative move. On the evidence of Every Opposite, it was a shrewd decision that has paid off handsomely. Inspired by the Kwaito house music scene, Ibrahim effortlessly adds Khoisan chants and fractured post-dubstep rhythms to her already sophisticated and seamless synthesis of R&B and electronica, tapping knob-tweakers from the Johannesburg, London, Nairobi and Toronto among other locales to execute her eclectic vision. Blessed with an emotive, malleable voice and a songwriting voice that incisively explores and affirms assertive self-identity, Ibrahim has impressively delivered on her early promise.
Del F. Cowie

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Not a big fan of the #1 choice, but I am glad to see BBNG on a year-end list!
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Enough with the stupid Frank Ocean already... It's really not that impressive. Miguel, also nothing much to speak of. But, yeah, after the first two, the rest of the list is great. Much love for BADBADNOTGOOD and Georgia Anne Muldrow.
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I'd love to hear a more detailed description of why you think Channel Orange isn't that impressive. I get the hype fatigue, but on a musical level, it's a very accomplished piece of composition and performance. I really don't care for that Miguel record though...
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Same, HankPond. I already addressed the Ocean overkill -- but aside from the hype, what's your aversion to the music?
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I don't think it's bad by any stretch. It's even good occasionally, "Pyramids" in particular. I just didn't find it to be all that revolutionary or cathartic, let alone consider it to be the greatest album of all-time, which its amount of #1 EOTY list placements would suggest. The album seems to be more of a success of marketing than actual music, which makes me sad for all the other artists being left off lists like this because they chose to keep their heads down and make good music rather than hone their social media skills. From where I'm sitting, Frank Ocean isn't that much different from Al Walser, though Ocean's music is clearly better.
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Fan of both the Ocean and Miguel albums and have no issue with either's placement at the top of this list but wish the Slakadeliqs album had been ranked higher. Was deeply disappointed and bored by Santigold's album though and question its worthiness to even be charted. Also thought Glasper's album was a tad overrated but it had its moments. Wasn't even aware that Neneh Cherry had put an album out last year but after checking out that meandering avant garde-jazz nonsense, can't say I was that impressed tbh.
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