When you switch on Top 40 radio anywhere in the United States, the majority of music you’ll hear is still chiefly American-made and in English. Spotify’s response to this fact? Their new Global Cultures Initiative, launched at the end of September. As Rocio Guerrero, head of Global Cultures at Spotify and creator of the initiative, explains, “Why is food from other countries so embedded in our culture and yet music isn’t? Because streaming didn't exist. But now it's happening.” While the Global Cultures Initiative includes multiple plans to promote culturally diverse music, one of the most accessible is the high-profile Global X playlist. Already at 152,296 followers, it’s one of the best curated playlists Spotify has published in recent years.

Tracks on Global X are top international crossovers, but mainstream hits from countries across the world sound very different from typical American pop. In fact, the playlist’s goal is to “bring to the surface new sounds, cultures, and languages” and display how eclectic instruments, beats, and melodies from various places can take a listener on a journey around the world, even if they’ve never been exposed to the music of other cultures. Currently, “Taki Taki” by DJ Snake, Selena Gomez, Ozuna, and Cardi B holds the top feature on the playlist, accompanied by an exclusive animated music video. But Global X doesn’t just stop with the Latin beats that have been the limit for American cross—cultural music consumption this past year (think: “Despacito,” “I Like It,” and “Mi Gente”). From Afrobeats to Arabic music, Italian pop to bhangra, here are some of the best jams from Global X. 

Song: “Sisi Maria” 

By: Maleek Berry

Languages Featured: English, Igbo

Why You Need To Listen To It:  “Sisi” meaning “young woman”, this highly percussive yet melodic song by British–Nigerian artist Maleek Berry is a great introduction to the world of Afrobeats and Afropop. It’s perfect for dancing and isn’t too far off from modern hip hop inflected R&B. 

Song: “Amore e Capoeira” (Love and Capoeira) 

By: Takagi & Ketra, Giusy Ferreri, Sean Kingston

Languages Featured: Italian 

Why You Need To Listen To It: This heavy–hitter is blended with hints of dancehall and reggae, and the post–chorus breakdown (“Come in una favela…”) showcases the song’s anthemic nature. Giusy Ferreri’s powerful, raspy voice makes “Amore e Capoeira” unforgettable.

Song: “Djadja”

By: Aya Nakamura

Languages Featured: French  

Why You Need To Listen To It: French urban–pop and Afrobeat singer Aya Nakamura’s haunting song with a thumping beat is making waves on European charts. The accusatory chorus towards someone spreading rumors about Nakamura makes this song perfect for when you want to feel self–assured.

Song: “Spice”

By: Michael Brun, Kah–Lo

Languages Featured: English

Why You Need To Listen To It: Haitian DJ Michael Brun’s collaboration with Nigerian singer Kah–Lo is a swagger–filled, EDM–tinged rap song with influences from both artists’ home countries. With an energetic bassline and booming drums on every beat, this iconic fast–paced track is perfect for working out or just feeling like a badass. 

Song: “Leily Leily” (My Night) 

By: Melissa, Nayer

Languages Featured: Arabic, Spanish

Why You Need To Listen To It: This melodic collaboration from Lebanese singer Melissa and Cuban–American singer Nayer shows how both cultures’ music can be merged together. With Arabic stringed instruments layered on top of guitar strums, this danceable track is definitely a highlight. 

Song: “LATATA”

By: (G)I–DLE

Languages Featured: Korean

Why You Need To Listen To It: Rising South Korean girl group’s single “LATATA” is truly earworm–worthy K–pop. Its tropical feel distinguishes it from many counterparts in its genre, but the intense drumbeats and resounding chorus establish it firmly within the world of Korean popular music. 

Song: “O Bebê” 

By: MC Kevinho, MC Kekel

Languages Featured: Portuguese

Why You Need To Listen To It: This piano–driven mid–tempo song by Brazilian singers MC Kevinho and MC Kekel blends together funk carioca (a Brazilian musical style from Rio de Janeiro originating in Miami bass and gangsta rap) and other tropical influences. The syncopated drums, melodic vocals, and horns in this Portuguese–language song make this a must–listen. 

So take a break from RapCaviar and head on over to GlobalX. 


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