27 Best Albums You Didn't Hear in 2013

The best of what flew under the mainstream radar

Various Artists, 'Red Hot + Fela'

Red Hot Fela
Courtesy Knitting Factory

The second Fela Kuti tribute compilation from Red Hot, the AIDS-fighting non-profit organization, is even more action-packed than the first, using the Nigerian musician's indestructible Afrobeat sound as the template for 13 largely fat-free groove adventures. It's an all-inclusive party, as any Fela covers record should be: "Lady" brings together Questlove, Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus, rapper Akua Naru and Angelique Kidjo; Chance the Rapper, 2013's most exciting new MC, pops up on "Gentleman"; and on the 14-minute "Troubled Sleep Yanha Wake Am," a clutch of young talent-supernovas — Garbus, My Morning Jacket, and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes — extend a slow sinuous, aching jam till it feels like it could go on forever, which was always how Fela's greatest grooves felt.

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