Not so long ago Brazilian hip hop was a novelty, now — as this album demonstrates — it is as sophisticated, diverse and god-damn funky as any other hip hop scene you could mention.
With its favelas, gangsters, multiracial cities and love of all things funky, what is surprising is not how big hip hop is in Brazil but how long it has taken to get the attention it deserves within the country and, latterly, outside its national borders.
“I was leaning against a wall with a gun in my hand when these guys came up to me and said, ‘This here is your father.’ I greeted him and told him to stay clear or I would shoot somebody. But after that we smoked a joint together and everything was cool.”
Hip hop (pronounced hippy-hoppy in Brazil) is not a musical formula that can be copied that easily. At its heart is the concept of representing: which is to say being true to who you are and where you are from. Which is why copycats never prosper for long and also why it seems to take a while for hip hop to take off in other countries. Once the deep concepts of hip hop culture are absorbed though it is the most tenacious musical form since jazz was invented.
On this album you can expect Brazilian percussion, samba and shout outs to Rio courtesy of Stereo Macaranã on the street funky Ondo É Que Tu Tá and the surprisingly dark fruits of a song created by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil and sung by the ever-youthful Elza Soares, Haiti.
The CD kicks off with a genius opus from conscious rappers Somos Nós A Justiça. A repetitive, DJ Shadowesque piano riff forms the basis of relentless, funky and at times funny free-for-all on Se Tu Lutas Tu Conquistas.
In a similarly chilled vain is Sou Negrão — a freestyle rap based on a funky loop and performed with the wit and style of a Brazilian Pharcyde as they give props to Jorge Ben and Gilberto Gil.
Another interesting tune with very Brazilian music behind Instituto & Sabotage’s Eminem-like delivery. Sadly, Sabotage was shot and killed last year after a short life that came straight out of City of God.
Congratulations to Rough Guide on putting out such a broad and intriguing introduction to hip hop in Brazil.
Somos Nós A Justiça: Se Tu Lutas Tu Conquistas 6:23
509-E: Saudades Mil 3:22
André Abujamra Feat. XJS: Nóis Eh Sampli 3:32
Elza Soares: Haiti 4:27
Possemente Zulu: Sou Negrão 6:26
Potencial 3: Tá Rimando 3:43
Chico Science & Bid: Roda Rodete Rodiano (Zambo Mix) 3:40
Black Gero: Orgulho De Cor 3:42
Personagens: No Corpo A Coisa Pega 1:34
Stereo Maracanã: Onde É Que Tu Tá 4:08
Veiga & Salazar: Se Lembra? (Remix) 3:43
Mc Partideiro: To Chegando 4:05
Mamelo Sound System: Gorila Urbano 3:36
XJS: Us Mano E As Mina (Profmix) 4:41
Instituto & Sabotage: Dama Teresa 3:59
Thaíde & DJ Hum: Sr. Tempo Bom 4:42
Link: World Music Net