The past year has left most of us feeling, among other things, zapped of inspiration. Gone is the sense of wonder sparked by landing in a new country, the tickle of a foreign language in our ears, and the exhilaration of hearing a fantastic song blaring out of a car, halfway around the world, that you just have to know the name of.
But with summer arriving, the optimism has returned—more and more of us are getting vaccinated, countries around the world are opening up, and we're starting to look ahead again. It also means our Spotify playlists are ready for new life, and all across the globe, female artists are leading the charge and creating new sounds.
Take the Dominican Republic, for example, where, as Marjua Estevez writes, “a cadre of up-and-coming women MCs are preserving some of the original elements of freestyling” and “making a sound all their own.” From Bad Bunny-endorsed Tokischa, to the 15-year-old J Noa, these women are dominating spaces once held strong by their male counterparts, and garnering attention well beyond the island.
In other parts of the world, though, new music nods to an older heritage. In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where the genocide all but decimated a once-thriving music industry, Cambodian-American singer Laura Mam is helping to rebuild the country's musical heritage by scouting new talent, supporting young artists, and making her own original music.
For the female founders of Kan Àwa, a music collective in Nigeria, promoting the genre of Afrobeats requires all of the above—pushing out young artists on the scene, while also paying homage to the genre's trailblazers, through online storytelling and the re-sharing of archival content.
Ultimately, though, we know you're looking for a wealth of new music to provide a soundtrack for your summer. We've also shared our new favorite Instagram account for discovering music from outside of the U.S. (follow on @TigreSounds ASAP). And, if you immediately want to hit “play” while reading the following stories, check out our editor-curated Spotify playlist of our favorite new music, from female artists in over a dozen countries. With so many music scenes across the globe—everywhere from Japan to Egypt—consider this your way to plug in. —Megan Spurrell
The homegrown female MCs are mixing elements of freestyling, drill, trap, and dembow for a sound all their own.
A new era of Cambodian artists want to bring back the country's longstanding musical heritage.
The Kan Àwa collective, made up of Olayinka Owoseni and Yvette Ogungbe, wants the world to know about the genre.
From indie flamenco singers to Ecuadorian DJs.
Consider this global playlist your summer soundtrack.
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler