Fresh Music – July 2012

Flo Rida, Wild Ones – This Floridian rapper has made a name for himself, and contributed to the decline of the English language, with catchy tunes featuring prominent collaborators. Songs including “Low,” “In The Ayer” and “Right Round” became instant club anthems and permeated popular culture. His fourth album has already produced two major hits, “Good Feeling,” which prominently samples Etta James, and  “Wild Ones” featuring Sia.

Zac Brown Band, Uncaged – This Atlanta-based jam band frequently tops the country music charts, but with elements of Southern rock, folk, reggae and bluegrass, their music had broad crossover appeal. The group’s fifth studio album is said to be the first conceived as a unified work. It’s also the first for new band member Daniel de los Reyes, and includes guest vocals by Amos Lee and an appearance by Trombone Shorty.

Matisyahu, Spark Seeker – At first blush, a reggae singing, beat boxing, Hasidic Jew with a penchant for stage diving sounds more like a Saturday Night Live skit than a Grammy nominated recording artist, but one listen proves Matisyahu is anything but a joke. For his fourth effort, the eclectic performer continues to meld ancient themes with modern technique and a jaunty Jamaican beat in a globe trotting tour de force produced by Kool Kojak – the producer behind Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha.

The Very Best, MTMTMK – Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and Swedish-born British producer Johan Hugo met by chance and later formed The Very Best – a project combining the traditional music of Malawi with Western dance, hip-hop and pop. That initial effort featured collaborations with indie darlings Vampire Weekend, Architecture in Helsinki and M.I.A. and was quickly followed by a debut album. This sophomore album was recorded in Malawi and features prominent African pop musicians, including Baaba Maal and K’naan.

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