Siddhartha Mitter's top 10 world music CDs of 2010

Who rocked the music world this year? Globe critics choose their favorite 10 albums -- and highlight some noteworthy surprises

By Siddhartha Mitter
Globe Correspondent / December 19, 2010

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TIKEN JAH FAKOLY “African Revolution’’ A master of African reggae, enriched here with Malian instruments, Fakoly mixes his democratic, liberationist politics with the haunting melancholy of disappointment.

NATACHA ATLAS “Mounqaliba’’ An eerie, bizarre, and completely mesmerizing electro-Arabic set from the Egyptian-Belgian-English singer, sounding like some kind of Tori Amos gone post-colonial.

AFROCUBISM “AfroCubism’’ An idea hatched 14 years ago comes to fruition: This spectacular collaboration of top musicians from Mali and Cuba is the year’s major entry in the world music canon.

LUISA MAITA “Lero-Lero’’ São Paulo’s Maita validates all your stereotypes of Brazil with this enchanting set of perfectly poised pop songs delivered with just the right hint of sultriness.

KING SUNNY ADE “Baba Mo Tunde’’ The great “KSA’’ as they know him in Lagos: extra-long, shimmering praise and party songs, the kind his band might play at your function if you could afford them.

KHAIRA ARBY “Timbuktu Tarab’’ By rights the charismatic queen singer of Timbuktu should have had an album in international release many years ago. This one was worth the wait.

BASSEKOU KOUYATE & NGONI BA “I Speak Fula’’ Kouyate’s work to foreground the Malian lute called ngoni, and his deft and soulful multiple-ngoni band, prove there’s no contradiction between roots and innovation.

SPEED CARAVAN “Kalashnik Love’’ Paris-based oud player Mehdi Haddab’s post-everything project is jarring in the right ways: loud, sample-rich, and with a cover of “Killing an Arab,’’ a fine provocation.

RED BARAAT “Chaal Baby’’ Jazz and Indian folk drummer Sunny Jain and crew make a new-breed marching-band music that’s part Punjabi wedding, part New Orleans second line, and all New York.

PEDRO MORAES “Claroescuro’’ Rio de Janeiro’s Moraes loves samba like a traditionalist but pushes it toward other rhythms in modern pop songs that radiate playfulness and whimsy.

BIGGEST SURPRISE FELA KUTI REISSUES It’s never too late to discover Fela. As much as the musical devoted to the late Afrobeat prophet broke new ground on Broadway, it’s the mother lode of reissues from Fela’s back catalog now underway that drives home the man’s funky, funky genius.