With the clarity and precision of a finely crafted silver bell, we at the FADER offices ring in the new year with a look forward to the music and movements that’ll be turning us upside down for the rest of the year, bka the Now issue. If you take a look at your well-maintained FADER archive, you’ll see that previous Now covers have been dedicated to the newbies, juniors, NORE, and up & comers-yet one of this year’s stars has sold over ten million albums and the other was crowned “the Stevie Wonder of Soca” when he was, like, floating in amniotic fluid. So yes, dudes are almost legends, but it’s their wildly unique, dynamic careers that make them kingpins for our marquee issue of the year. Damon Albarn has shown himself to be one of the most creative artists of our generation: rather than piggybacking off his acclaim as frontman for Blur and becoming a magnet for paparazzi douchebaggery, dude invented a cartoon band called the Gorillaz, then dug up rare gems from the African subcontinent through his label with the UK’s Honest Jon’s recordshop. Albarn’s latest project, an untitled band with music senseis Tony Allen on drums and Paul Simonon on guitar, is basically a shoe-in for Wild, Bra-Tossing Success-but it’s based on Albarn’s collective body of work (and the outrageous goodness therein) that we choose to celebrate him as the face of all that’s interesting and relevant Right Now.
The same holds true for Trinidad’s Machel Montano. You may not have heard of him, or he might be your favorite star evar, and either way, you need to get with the rest of the world and tune in to Soca. The import, embrace and crosspollination of Caribbean music upstream to communities in Boston, Detroit, Chicago, LA and beyond is something we’ve been harping on for years now-Soca has made its way north and Montano is its Official Ambassador (he even has a Pepsi trading card to prove it!). The man has been at it since he was seven years old and, if it’s even possible to do such a thing before all your adult teeth are in, has been killing ever since. Montano will be turning it out throughout the upcoming Carnival season, so if you live in a place where people listen to music, be on the lookout. Make sure not to get too shook off those two stories, though: we’ve got Lindsey Caldwell’s feature on LA’s new electrified soul, an Eddie Stats profile on Miami’s black-Chinese dancehall powerhouse and Non-Format’s zooted-out interpretation of Nas’s new album. It’s the dawn of impulsive, unheard of, totally improper, perfectly radical new soundsystems-and you can trust that we’ll be right in step.