DAORA-UNDERGROUND SOUNDS OF URBAN BRASIL- HIP HOP BEATS AND AFRO DUB.

DAORA-UNDERGROUND SOUNDS OF URBAN BRASIL- HIP HOP BEATS AND AFRO DUB. 

Compilations of Brazilian music are commonplace. Whilst not quite two a penny, there’s much more than before. The problem is, many of them contain the same tired old tracks. Compilers it seems, shop at the same shop. This results in the same old, same old. Nothing new, innovative or interesting it seems, ever finds its way onto these albums. That’s until now. Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub, which is the innovative Mais Um Discos label’s latest release is something of a game-changer.

Featuring thirty-two tracks spread over two discs, Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub, which was compiled by Rodrigo Brandão  shows another side to Brazilian music. It’s best described as featuring progressive hip hop, leftfield beats, Afrobeat and dub drenched sounds. A simpler way to describe it as Daora, which in downtown San Paulo, is slang for something that’s f*cking cool. Even that’s something of an understatement. 

Everything from funk, hip hop, Afrobeat, dub, soul, jazz, rap, reggae and samba is thrown into a Brazilian melting pot. When it’s given a stir, what comes out is variously energetic, emotive, edgy, progressive, hook-laden, soulful, imaginative, dance-floor friendly, melodic and downright funky. That’s what the music on Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub sounds like. No wonder.

Compiled by Rodrigo Brandão, lyricist extraordinaire, Subterranean Highlander and MC of the Zulu Nation Brazil, Rodrigo knows Brazilian urban music inside out. He knows where the secrets and hidden gems can be found and shares some of them on Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

DISC ONE-CONCRETE AND STEEL FOREST.

Both of the discs on Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub, have a title and theme. Disc One is entitled Concrete and Steel Forest. This conjurs up pictures of the urban landscape, with the music reflecting the multicultural environment its made in. That environment has provided the inspiration for artists like Espião, Ogi and Stereodubs, Amabis, DJ Mako, Rodrigo Brandão,Doncesão and Bodes and Elefantes. They’re just a few of the sixteen artists who feature on Disc One of Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

My first choice from Disc One of Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub is Espião’s Cada Um, Cada Um. This is the title-track from Espião’s 2011 album. It’s a real fusion of influences. Everything from hip hop, soul and jazz combine. A jazz-tinged backdrop, featuring a meandering bass, combines with an impassioned, soulful hip hop vocal. Delivered in Portuguese, in a call and response style, stabs of keyboards add to the drama and intensity of the vocal. Soulful, jazz tinged and a reminder of old school hip hop, this is the perfect way to open the compilation.

Curumin’s Vestido De Prata is something of a musical anomaly. What sounds like is going to be a crackly, smokey slice of old school trip hop, becomes a languid, laid-back reggae track. Hey, who’s complaining when the music’s as good as this. Taken from the 2012 album Arrocha, released on Vinyl Land, the arrangement is driven along by the bass. Dubby drums, soulful harmonies and a heartfelt vocal all play their part in what is, an authentic reggae track. Somewhere in Brazil, it seems, is a little corner of Jamaica. For that, we should thankful.

Bixiga 70’s Balboa da Silva sounds like a track from a lost Blaxploitation movie. It’s not though. Instead it’s a track from Bixiga 70’s eponymous album. Released on the Agua Forte label in 2011, it sounds like James Brown providing the soundtrack to a Brazilian Blaxploitation movie. With a myriad of growling horns, pulsating rhythms and samba beats, it’s as if John Shaft got on the wrong plane and landed in Rio. Explosive, dramatic, uber funky and pulsating, you can imagine car chases, chaos and bad guys being brought to justice during four minutes of majestic music.

Dramatic and gothic describes the opening to M.B. Williams’ Response Pirituba. Keyboards provide the gothic sound while thunderous drums add the drama. From there, it’s like a musical journey, visiting a variety of musical genres. Driven along by the keyboards and drums, we take a detours via electronica, jazz, funk, fusion, Latin and rock. Horns blaze, joining percussion, keyboards and a rhythm section that’s provides the track’s heartbeat. In less than five minutes, M.B. Williams takes you on a magical, mystical musical mystery tour, visiting musical genres aplenty.

Sombra’s Homem Sem Face is an understated, haunting and jazz-tinged slice of hip hop. Featuring a rap in Portuguese, the arrangement meanders hauntingly along. Eastern sounds that conjur up pictures of snake charmers sit side-by-side with an arrangement that’s subtle, jazzy and languid. As for the rap, it’s full of bravado and briefly, eerie and menacing. Combined with the genre-melting, multicultural arrangement, and the result is an enthralling and compelling track.

Doncesão’s Obrigahh is my final choice from Disc One of Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub. It’s a blistering slice of hip hop, set against an arrangement that’s a dramatic collage of samples, sound effects, keyboards riffs and phat drums. While the impassioned rap is responsible for much of the drama, you can’t help but concentrate on the arrangement. It features samples from old black and white movies, sound effects and is built around a series of piano riffs which are repeated throughout the track. Dramatic, mesmeric and multi-layered, is the best way to describe this musical collage.

Choosing just six tracks from sixteen wasn’t easy. No wonder. The quality of music on Disc One of Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub is consistently high. After all, I could just as easily have chosen any number of innovative, genre-melting tracks. Honorable mentions go to Ogi and Stereodubs, Elo Da Corrente, Rodrigo Brandão and Tetine. Any one of these artists could’ve made my final six. Who knows, on another day other tracks might have made the cut? Mostly, though, the six tracks I chose stood out from the rest. They either made a real impression on me or fell into the category of innovative music. What these tracks did, was give me a real taste for contemporary Brazilian music. Luckily, we’ve another disc to go, featuring another sixteen tracks.

DISC TWO-AND MAY THE DRUMS SOUND.

Just like Disc One of Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub, Rodrigo Brandão has dug deep looking for innovative and cutting-edge music for Disc Two. Entitled And May The Drums Sound, Disc Two features another sixteen tracks. We’re introduced to Rodrigo Campos, Iconili, Bixiga 70, Afrobombas, Metá Metá, Iara Rennó and Anelis Assumpção. Again, the quality is just as high as on Disc One. So choosing the highlights of Disc Two of Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub won’t be easy. Here goes.

Despite Rodrigo Campos’ Sou de Salvador which opens Disc Two of Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub, sets the standard for the other fifteen tracks. Taken from Rodrigo Campos’ 2012 album Bahia Fantastica, which was released on the Nucleo Contemporaneo label, what’s a follows is a glorious fusion of soul, Afrobeat, jazz and electronica. Joyous, spiritual, gospel-tinged vocals, join rasping horns, a pulsating rhythm section and seventies keyboards. They combine to create a soulful, celebratory and joyous track where musical influences and genres melt into one. 

Genre-melting. That comes close to describing Metá Metá’s Orunmilá. It’s a compelling and complex fusion of musical influences and genres. Somehow they work. They shouldn’t, but do. Take a combination of jazzy horns, searing, rocky guitars, a myriad of percussion and a pounding rhythm section. Then ask them to provide the perfect backdrop for a soul-baring, soulful vocal. It’s delivered with feeling and passion. Yet the two are like ying and yang. That’s despite the vocal almost being upstaged by Hendrix-esque guitar solos. Not quite though. Instead it’s just another piece in this musical jigsaw. Beautiful, soulful, jazz-tinged and rocky, another word to describe this track is mouthwatering.

Braunation’s Os Tambores do Meu Povo is another track where not just musical genres, but continents collide. The track’s dubby sound is reminiscent of classic dub, takes you on a journey back to Kingston, Jamaica. There’s snippits of smokey, Bristol, trip hop, classic hip hop and thanks to a myriad of beeps and squeaks, Acid House. Mostly thought, it’s dub, delicious dub, Brazilian style.

The unmistakable sound of a clavinet accompanies Soraia Drummond on Sorriso Forte Na Luta. It provides a contrast to the ethereal beauty of her fragile, tender vocal. Soon filters are added to her vocal, as the track becomes heads in the direction of dub. Dubby drums echo into the distance and the spacey bass bounds in the same direction. This results in a track that’s not just spacious and spacey, but dubby and ethereal.

Baiana System’s delivery of Terapia is best described as soulful and heartfelt. That’s despite the track being a bass driven reggae track. Having said that, there’s more to the track than reggae. Much more. It’s also symphonic, dubby and dramatic. Electronica plays an important part. Especially, when it reaches brief discordant highs. After that, it’s all change. A myriad of keyboards, bubbling synths and that pulsating bass all play important part in providing the backdrop for this soulful, soul-searching vocal. 

Sambanzo’s Etiopia is certainly one of most beautiful tracks on Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub. Driven along by the sultriest of saxophones, this gives the arrangement a jazzy sound. So does the standup bass and drums. Although mostly a straight ahead jazz track, occasionally the track draws inspiration from dub and electronica. They give the track a much more contemporary sound. That’s no bad thing. Neither is the brief detour via free jazz when Sambanzo showcases their inconsiderable skill on what is, a highlight of the compilation.

Featuring another sixteen tracks, Disc Two of Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub, sees no drop in the quality of music. No wonder.  It’s quality all the way, as we’re introduced to some Brazil’s best kept musical secrets. I’ve only chosen six of the sixteen tracks on Disc Two, but I could just as easily have chosen any number of other tracks. Among them, are Rodrigo Campos, Iconili, Afrobombas, Iara Rennó and Anelis Assumpção. These artists prove just how plentiful a supply of innovative artists there are in Brazil just now. 

Indeed, Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub shows that right now, music is one of Brazil’s success stories. There are so many innovative, inventive and imaginative producers within Brazil, who like Shaman, casting a musical spell over their listeners. Their style is best described as genre-melting. During the thirty-two tracks on Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub musical genres and influences melt into one lysergic haze. 

Everything from Acid House, Afrobeat, drum ‘n’ bass, dub, funk, hip hop, Latin, reggae, samba, rock, soul, jazz and trip hop is thrown into a bubbling musical melting pot. So too are snatches of haunting samples, sound effects, snare drums, squelchy synths heartfelt vocals and impassioned raps. Then there’s hissing hi-hats, loops, 808 kick drums and the unmistakable sound of the Roland TR-303. It’s then given a stir by an innovative producer and hey presto, music that veers between soulful, funky, jazzy, rocky, hypnotic, mesmeric and lysergic, to bass shaking, hip swaying and booty shaking. 

Multilayered, complex, dramatic and dark, just as quickly, it can become uplifting and joyous. Other times, the music is intriguing and enigmatic. This is music that’s full of subtleties, surprises and nuances. Compiler Rodrigo Brandão throws a series of curveballs, just to keep the listener on their toes. Best to expect the unexpected. Anything and everything is possible. Rodrigo Brandão rules nothing in and nothing out. That seems to be Rodrigo’s attitude to compiling a compilation of cutting-edge, contemporary music. The result is, Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub, the equivalent to a lysergic, genre-sprawling, magical, mystical musical mystery tour, where you’re introduced to a myriad of Brazil’s best kept musical secrets and hidden gems. Standout Tracks: Bixiga 70 Balboa da Silva, Doncesão Obrigahh, Metá Metá Orunmilá and Soraia Drummond Sorriso Forte Na Luta.

DAORA-UNDERGROUND SOUNDS OF URBAN BRASIL- HIP HOP BEATS AND AFRO DUB. 

3 Comments

  1. Brazilian music! The feel and interpretation of the music is marvellous and yet, a couple of years ago, BBC Radio 3 featured African musicians playing this genre and it was even more subtle. I couldn’t believe my ears.

    • Hi John,

      Glad you’re still enjoying my blog. I too, am a huge fan of Brazilian music. Daora features a variety of contemporary Brazilian music. This includes Brazilian musicians playing reggae and dub. On a couple of tracks, there’s an African influence. Daora is best described as a truly eclectic compilation.

      Tomorrow, I’m reviewing something really special. It’s one of the best compilations I’ve heard this year.

      I’m really enjoying the book. I’ll soon be finished it. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

      Best Wishes,
      Derek.

      • Thanx Derek.

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