The Very Best: Afropopular

Describing The Very Best's music as Afropop for people who think they don't like Afropop is, of course, a gross over-simplification. But with the vowel-less-titled second album MTMTMK, that shimmers with thickly-cut beats, hip-swiveling synth licks and a glossy dance club sheen, this trio is poised to conquer even the least-traveled ears. Comprised of British DJ duo Radioclit and Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya, The Very Best unearth the African roots of contemporary pop, with modern Afropop music as a jumping-off point to explore everything from electro-disco, '80s synthpop and hip-hop.

And what an entourage they bring along for the ride: Nigerian-British vocalist MNEK croons sleek and sexy on the gently Latin-kissed "Rumbae." Baaba Maal and Amadou & Mariam appear on "Bantu," an homage to classic '80s world beat. Even Bruno Mars gets in on the game, penning the buoyant hip-pop cut "We OK," featuring rippling marimbas and rising African rapper K'Naan. On standout tracks like "Yoshua Alikuti" (with its hooky pop choruses and percussive African club beats), The Very Best make a compelling argument for Afropop's crossover appeal. – Rachel Devitt, Google Play

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