Archive of posts tagged with "brazil"

October 9th, 2008

Shake It Like Onomatopoeia

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October 1st, 2008

Hugs for Tecnobrega

Tecno brega / eletro melody is back on my radar for 2 reasons —

1) Ronaldo Lemos, the Rio-based law prof who’s been hailing the genre’s open business model for years now, has just published a new book about tecno brega and its creative approach to the music biz, Tecnobrega: o Pará Reinventando o Evento da MĂşsica. It’s in Portuguese but it’s also CC-licensed, so I’m hoping someone will soon translate it to English so that I can read it too. It will be available for download from here.

2) & perhaps presciently, I just got a trackback&comment from Rio-based blogger Soundgoods who has put together a mixtape collecting some of the tecnobrega / eletro melody that tends less toward the cheesy (brega) end of the spectrum and more toward the “interesting.” It’s a nice mix, though as with lots of genre-specific outings, it can get a bit repetitive. Still, gotta love those wheezy synths and throwback claps.

      >> Soundgoods, “Força Do Pará Mixtape”

… which reminds me, back when I originally posted about eletro melody, the post received a comment from none other than the “CRIADOR do ELETRO MELODY” (as he put it), Joe! He affirms the going narrative on the inspiration for the genre (yes, Benny Benassi), offers some ideas about the genre’s appeal (a la global gobbledigook), and invites people to get in touch. I’ve been meaning to bring his comment into full view here, so since it’s all topical and whatnot, here goes (w/ a snappy translation from our own Gregzinho) —

olá, me chamo eder joe ou joe sou produtor musical, CRIADOR do ELETRO MELODY,que pra vcs seria “ELECTRO MALADY” hoje decidi pesquisar no google esse nome para saber a atĂ© que ponto esse ritimo abrange atualmente, fico feliz por ser um ritimo sociavel musicalmente falando.Realmente a minha fonte de inspiração foi o album de benni benassi, adimiro o estilo dele, satisfaction Ă©ssa foi o ponto de partida para a criação do eletro melody, benni benassi com seu electro house e eu com o melody, juntei as duas coisas e criei o electro melody ou eletro melody. atualmente, o eletro melody esta tocando nas radios e aparelhagens em todo o norte e nordeste do brasil. o ritimo inciou com um jeito de cantar similar ao regaeton hoje ele se encontra mais melodico harmonizado com letras que falam de amor, e nĂŁo porem nĂŁo deixando girias de baladas de lado, tipo: “agitar, detonar, arrazar, bombar, gatinha, rapeize(galera jovem), etc..).

pelomenos no brasil, a letra do eletro melody não é muito rica devido fazer apologia a equipes de som automotivo, equipes de aparelhagens, etc.. porem para os extrangeiros, a musica pode ser um ritimop promissor, creio devido os extrangeiros não entenderem o portugues brasileiro. assim como a musica de suzanne vega (my name is luka) fez sucesso no brasil, como uma musica totalmente romantica, quanto que na verdade ela contava um historia de uma criança maltratada, violencia infantil. quem diria uma melodia tão bonita com uma letra tão deprimente, pois é.
meu email para que quiser saber mais Ă©:

vc encontra mais eletro melody ou electro malady na pagina

um abraço!

here’s Greg’s translation for the non-Lusophones reading this —

Hi, my name is Eder Joe or [just] Joe I’m a music producer, CREATOR of the ELETRO MELODY, which for you all would be “ELECTRO MALADY” Today I decided to search on Google for this phrase to find out to what extent this rhythm is currently circulating, I’m happy it’s become popular [sociavel = socialable? I think he means popular in this context] musically speaking. Truthfully my inspiration was Benni Benassi’s album, I admire his style, Satisfaction was the point of departure for the creation of eletro melody, Benni Benassi with his electro house and me with melody, I combined the two things to create electro melody or eletro melody. Currently, eletro melody is being played on the radio and by all the sound systems in the north and northeast of Brazil. The rhythm began with a singing style similar to reggaeton. Today it’s more melodic and harmonized with lyrics about love and not however not leaving party slang aside, like: “agitate, detonate, arrazar [dunno this one], bomb, little cat [slang for cute girl], the boys (the crew), etc.

At least in Brazil, electro melody lyrics aren’t very deep, they mostly talk about car stereo systems, sound systems, etc. However for foreigners, the music can be a promising rhythm, I believe due to the fact that foreigners don’t understand Brazilian Portuguese. It’s just like the Suzanne Vega song “My Name is Luka,” which was a success in Brazil, with a very romantic sound, while in fact she was singing about an abused child, juvenile violence. Who would’ve thought such a pretty melody had such depressing lyrics, of course.

My e-mail for whoever wants to know more is:

You can find more eltro melody or electro malady on this page:

A hug!

Abraços, y’all — now someone get on that translation of Ronaldo’s book!

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July 31st, 2008

Goodness Gracious

Great bailes of fire! Watch Cabide DJ rock the sampler de fogo —

Can you imagine how that machine would go over in Jamaica?

If all works out in the forbidding world of international travel, Cabide will be touring the US this fall, including stops at such Boston-area bastions of Brazil as Club Lido and Pufferbellies and also, if we can make it happen, at a Beat Research / Todo Mundo / Bass Invaders thang too.

Can you imagine how the sampler de fogo would go over in customs?

sez Gregzinho, who knows Cabide

I told him there’s no way in hell he’ll be allowed to bring that on an airplane . . .

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June 9th, 2008

linkthink #5489: Stimulus Packaging

videyoga ::

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May 30th, 2008

Notes on Neighborhood

Although my research/interests often turn to (trans)nationalism, lately I’ve been thinking less about nationhood and more about neighborhood — not in terms of an actual space or place (though that’s part of it), but something more akin to neighborliness, to being a good neighbor, to finding an ethics of neighborhood in an intensively globalized/mediated era. I’m curious about a musically-mediated aesthetics more specifically — one that responds not to the condition of living in a world of strangers, as Anthony Appiah might put it, but a world of neighbors. This is a concept that I hope will be useful in coming to terms with what I’ve variously, loosely, referred to as nu-whirl music and global ghettotech.

I have to admit that I’ve yet to catch up with the philosophical (or anthropological, sociological, etc.) literature on “the neighbor.” I was enthused to see that Ian Biddle’s recent piece on “musical neighbors” offers some musicological and theoretical directions, which I look fwd to pursuing. Right now my notion of neighborhood is much more commonsensical, I should confess, which may be for the best, ideological mess that common sense is — the “folklore of philosophy,” as Gramsci called it, among other things.

Not unrelated to the Neighbors Project perhaps, but less concerned w/ addressing gentrification per se (tho it is certainly part of the story), my own impulse — shared by many peers, I think — to attend to and represent local soundscapes seems, nonetheless, to offer some real promise for reconciliation and productive, interactive cohabitation (perhaps visitation too — i.e., a kinder, gentler tourism). I’m obviously a firm believer in the power of music to shape our world(s), and I know that my own ideas about selfhood&otherness, place&space, and social connections & “social consciousness” have been deeply informed by music (and, in partic, hip-hop). Theory too. Indeed, my current thinking about neighborhood has been inspired without a doubt by Paul Gilroy’s recent remarks, in which he makes an argument for “conviviality” and “mutual regard” in the context of the postcolonial multiculture that is London — and by extension, though this is perhaps my own leap of imaginary — to the great number of cities today which host so many people from so many places, especially the once (and future) metropoles of empire.

That said, I don’t have much in the way of developed ideas & theories of my own, but I would like to throw the term out there, to invite feedback, to think aloud about how we might hear neighborhood in musical experience and practice, mediated as it may be by various technologies & distances. Toward a more fleshed out notion, allow me to share a few instances that come to mind via the likkle corner of the musiconnoisseurosphere in which I find/embed myself —

1) One set of examples that comes to mind, consonant with Gilroy’s LDN-centric frame, is the work of man like John Eden, Martin “Blackdown” Clark, & the extended crew responsible for Woofah (now available, for those in my neck of the woods / side of the pond, via ForcedExposure). All of them reflect on the London soundscape in ways that, for me, really help to redefine what England looks and sounds like these days. John Eden not only represents for his own hood as a straightup activist, he amplifies articulations between hoods, and, of course, is constantly mining London’s Caribbean connections (or, perhaps better, its Caribbean constitution), either through his posts and mixes devoted to homegrown reggae, fastchat, etc., or those that — like Woofah itself — serve to underscore the relationship between reggae and, say, grime. Of course, this is a story being spun by the Heatwave boyz too, and it’s worth noting that another keen Londonian observer and sense-maker about reggae, Dave Stelfox, with whom I shared some delish Turkish bbq along with the Heatwavers in London last spring, was, when I ran into him, totally raving about the Kurdish dance sessions happening on his street (which he recorded on his cellphone) — demonstrating a rather Gilroyan sense of regard. And, of course, when he’s not busy translating and transmitting the future-present sounds of London, Blackdown’s own music, which I’m eager to hear in album-form, engages with the wider London soundscape as well, dabbling in desi beats and other formerly “strange” strains which are now utterly familiar (thx in part, no doubt, to noisy neighbors like the Panjabi Hit Squad).

2) Another is offered by Cheif Boima, a freq w&w commenter and someone whose mixes I’ve been flagging here for a minute. Boima’s latest mix, Baobab Connection Vol 2, has been making the rounds recently. It’s a pretty excellent example of exactly what I’m talking about here. Boima’s engagement with coupe decale, which precedes more recent critical fawning and which he brought into the convo here last June, is much more than a web-mediated connection. He DJs twice a month at a club in SF called Little Baobab, playing a mix of African dance tracks to a mix of African ex-pats and 2nd-gens. As such, Boima’s love for Ivorian pop, although definitely a homegrown one (i.e., he grew up listening to it with his father and family), is not just about his own strong connections to a place far away, but has been strengthened and shaped by matters very much close-by. Moreover, his decale-style remixes of US hip-hop and r&b offer a rather compelling fusion of the Bay Area soundscape as it swirls around in his head&heart (not to mention, as he’s made clear in other mixes, the Salone soundscape). And though I don’t want to dilute the degree to which Boima’s neighborly soundings are quite locally grounded, it’s worth noting — in the nu-whirl context — that he’s joined another neighborly (LDN-based) blogger, Vamanos @ Ghettobassquake, to share sounds from around the world/way. Did I mention that Boima works with underprivileged youth by day? Nuff said.

3) Finally, though I there are many others I could mention, I want to call attention to the work of Greg Scruggs, a former student, graduating senior (!), and intrepid observer of the intersections btwn city-space and soundscape. Many readers of this here blog are familiar with Greg’s Beat Diaspora, on which he’s chronicled in great, reflective detail his experiences of listening and learning in Rio, Paris, New Orleans, Detroit. But mostly Rio, where he spent last summer — and some other stints — not just going to bailes and interviewing funkeiros, but living and working alongside community activists like the Two Brothers Foundation. Perhaps most impressive, though: Greg spent a good deal of time hunting down funk artists in order to compensate them for an unlicensed compilation issued by US-based Flaming Hotz records and, even better, seeking out other funkeiros in order to strike an ethical agreement (em PortuguĂŞs!) to release their music through the same label, with payment upfront and royalties to follow. “Fair trade funk,” Greg calls it, and the album, PancadĂŁo do Morro (Big Hits from the Hill), is an exemplary release in just about every sense: great music, lovingly and ethically compiled, richly contextualized without recourse to the same ol’ sensationalism, and so nicely packaged that you actually want to buy the physical CD. One last bit of nu-whirl localism wrt Senhor Scruggs: I’ll be joining Gregzinho, a not-too-distant neighbor here in Cambridge, this very evening to chat about and broadcast a bunch of the music whirling around this discussion. Greg’s hosting a Nu Whirl Orgy tonight on WHRB — that’s 95.3 if you’re local to (Greater) Boston or streaming here if you’re not. Should be fun(ky)!

It’s probably clear that my notion of “neighborhood” is meant as a way of reading nu-whirled movements in an engaged, positive manner. It moves away from notions of the strange(r) and foreign to the familiar. We become familiar with our neighbors when we have some regard for them, when we listen and play collectively, and I’ll be so potentially naive as to suggest that DJs and bloggers can serve as cultural agents in this process. For all of the inherent problematics, many of the middlemen and women of the “nu world” are aware of their power and privilege, actively resist discourses of the exotic and touristic, and propose other modes of interaction with the strangers / others / neighbors among us: from collaboration, to taking a focused and sustained rather than “eclectic” or trendy approach, to preferring “getting under each other’s skin” rather than simply “used to each other,” as Appiah would have it. Although we see some ways that “nu world” is derivative of “old” “world music,” many of the so-called globalist DJs are quite antagonistic to the underlying exoticism. Like Ghis said

World music is more exotic, the sounds we play are more urban. They all come from common backgrounds: people without much money, doing music in home studios or in a laptop. It’s something more urgent.

There’s always a nagging question, perhaps, as to whether we’ve simply shifted from safari tourism to slum tourism, but the urgency, urbanity, and class dimensions which Ghislain notes give the endeavor a different sort of spin. Global ghettotech offers a soundtrack to a planet of slums, a ghetto archipelago linking Rio to Detroit to London to Kingston to Salone, decentering the US in the global music industry and imaginary, but — perhaps most crucially — also calling attention to a global underclass whose struggles are shared and intertwined and who reside not just on the next continent but, increasingly, next door.

Good fences make good neighbors, yes, but so do good parties.

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May 20th, 2008

linkthink #2925: Unreconstructed Deconstructionist

videyoga ::

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May 5th, 2008

linkthink #5184: Mariachi Bhangra

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May 2nd, 2008

linkthink #60989: Calypso Consigliere

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April 24th, 2008

linkthink #6248: Tudo o Que Preciso

videyoga ::

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April 23rd, 2008

linkthink #7402: Like, Totally Obliterated

videyoga ::

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April 3rd, 2008

Globalistas’ Pistas


A couple posts ago I shared some new videos c/o Maga Bo and Ghislain Poirier — two of the transnational bass proponents profiled in Camilo Rocha’s “globalistas” article. It goes without saying that I’m a supporter of what both Bo and Ghis are up to. In partic, I dig their cross-border collaborations, their distinctive sounds despite shared styles, their preference for low-end frequencies and the hip-hop logic they bring to bear on everything they do.

Indeed, although Ghis & Bo both also draw on reggae, soca, techno, jungle, etc., to my ears all of this is ultimately filtered through a hip-hop aesthetic: their music bumps and crunches, bristles and bangs, pushes and pulls with disparate timbres and resonant samples; it is as once sweet and sour, nice and ill, & indexes a wide range of other genres within — for the most part — a boom-bap framework. I think one could say the same for the other so-called globalists featured in Camilo’s piece, Diplo and /rupture, and I would certainly say the same for myself: that despite my wide-ranging mixes and mashes, an irrepressible hip-hop steelo undergirds it all.

I think — to get to(ward) my point — that that’s the difference between the globalists named above and the other DJ/producer profiled in the piece, Brazil’s DJ Dolores

I recently got ahold of Dolores’s new album 1 Real, and though I was struck by the similar synthesis of so many genres, I was also struck by a certain, audible difference between Dolores’s music and that by those mentioned above. On 1 Real Dolores manages, to his credit, to project a distinctive producerly voice and vision — and one rather Brazilian in sound and sentiment — while also engaging with house, drum’n’bass, dancehall and roots and dub reggae, and other global (electronic dance) genres. And yet, somehow the seamlessness of his synthesis — produced in part by the frequent use of studio musicians rather than samples — stands in stark contrast to the way, if I may, that the music of the other globalistas perifericos more often shows its seams — & indeed, revels in the cut, the break, the mix.

To my ears, Dolores’s approach is closer to, say, the way Gotan Project brings together dub and downtempo, etc., and yet manages to sound like tango (/Argentina) all the way through. It is an effect achieved via ensemble sound, but it is also an aesthetic preference. There’s a smoothness to it that reminds me more of ol worldmusic fusions than nu whirledmusic mashups. I don’t doubt that Dolores would sell well in Starbucks, while I suspect that the rest of us might fall on deaf ears (ok, maybe Florida could work there too). And I don’t mean that quite as a slight, though I clearly have my own aesthetic preferences.

That said, I should note that I’ve been enjoying 1 Real as I’ve tried to wrap my ears and head around it. It’s served well as (cooking&eating) dinner music for us, which means it occupies a special place in our domestic soundscape. And it’s the kind of thing I can recommend to people for whom I know some break-ier stuff might seem grating. But I wouldn’t call Dolores a global ghettotechie, if we actually want to invest in that term or find it to have explanatory power, for I find his music less concerned with the audibility of technology — especially low-fi, gritty, DIY/p2p stuff — and more concerned with “high” / “organic” production values. (Or maybe I just need to check more of his DJ work?)

Don’t get me wrong, tho, that doesn’t mean dude ain’t down for a lil drum’n’bass one-drop, Japanese vox noisemaking (still, note the drum[kit] timbres and “clean” violin) —

or, for that matter, some street-y ambience b/w reggae drums, melodica melancholia, and (sampled?) gestures to the other-side-of-the-world —

While I’m at it, allow me to riff a lil more — this time w/r/t coupĂ© dĂ©calĂ© and global-gtech blogging.

I was psyched to find in my Google Reader this morning a shared item from Chief Boima pointing me to a great coupé décalé vid via the Fader

Boima was just in town, rocking some WestAf dance traxx @ Beat Research, and he schooled me on coupĂ© dĂ©calĂ©. According to Boima, the genre emerged from the zouglou tradition, whereby university students in CĂ´te d’Ivoire would rap about topical subjects to the accompaniment of syncopated sticks. Boima says that these zouglou rhythms have been transmuted for coupĂ© dĂ©calĂ© by Ivorian youth in the diaspora (especially Paris, which has long been the recording center for Francophone Africa), who substitute — to my delight, aesthetic affinities as they are — synthesized handclaps for the sticks, while augmenting the underlying dance pulses with FruityLoopy drums. Say word. In French. Or just shake it, universal-like.

And yet, I wonder how the Fader’s & Boima’s & my own enthusiasm for something like coupĂ© dĂ©calĂ© would sit with JP de Masala, given his most recent musings

I read Fader stories about hiplife and kwaito with interest but I couldn’t stop thinking about the distorsion between our conception of african music and the music africans are listening to. I mean, is Fader really setting a trend on 2 genres that seems to be stuck in a dead end ? Is kwaito and hiplife are just still living in our western imaginary and romantism ? What if african rappers just want to sing in english and sounds like Tupac ?

& moreover, JP quotes a provocative comment from someone he calls the antisuck

The roots obsessed decry HH for losing touch with indiginous sounds. they blame american rap for detroying indigenous sounds yet They love ali farka toure, amadou & mariam, ethiopiques, things that sound like american jazz and rock music. Then you have hipsters into african rap scenes, daraa j, kuduro, trying to find the music with the most dangerous street cred/booty beats and/or backpacker rap in africa. both “scenes” are perhaps dying yet so small and insignificant as to be nearly nonexistant next to the reality of african pop music and the actually huge scenes alive and well of coupe-decale, mbalax, swahili pop, zouk.

For all the trenchant points made here — many of which get to the heart of global ghettotechery and nuwhirled musings — I think we begin to lose sight of something with the oppositions employed here. Sure, kuduro and kwaito might be (increasingly) marginal in their cities and countries of origin, but that’s no reason not to show interest in them over, say, the newest Tupac impersonator on the block. Yes, we should be careful and reflective about our interest in exotic/indigenous sounds and our desires for hearing an audible localization or indigenization of such global genres as hip-hop and house, but we need not necessarily embrace what’s popular elsewhere just as we need not foist our own popular music on the rest of the world. Further, it seems to me that we must also bear in mind that we American seekers of global sounds (and I mean American in the most inclusive sense) — as well as our Euro brethren — are inevitably guided by own our aesthetics, an aesthetics which — at least in my case, as I have tried to lay out here — does privilege what I’m calling a “hip-hop logic” as well as the audibility of certain technologies and a set of sonic priorities weighted toward the low-end & the polyrhythmic. (These priorities are qualities which, need I remind, got SFJ in some hot water for demanding that rock musicians stop embracing their opposites.)

A lot of the most popular genres cited above as more appropriate objects of our attention are, to my ears, sweet but boring. I want more bass, more synth&sampled drums, more sour with my sweet. I wouldn’t want to distort the record in terms of what’s popular and so forth, but I don’t think we need to be guided entirely by such concerns, or by fears that we will have a more heisenbergian effect on the objects of our affection than we actually will. (All of this music — and the local and diasporic scenes in which it’s enmeshed — are stronger than a few friendly firstworld bloggers.) Plus, it’s not as if coupĂ© dĂ©calĂ© hasn’t already been fingered for global ghettopop by the usual suspects.

What’s more, the last thing we need to do is join the chorus of the preservationists (a camp with which ethnomusicologists are far too often conflated), as JP seemingly does at the end of his post —

I guess I could resume my thaughts by saying that I’m concerned about how globalization of the american rap industry affects youths from all over the world and tends to create a cultural and economic model uniformisation, killing diversity of rhythms and language.

I’ve been teaching a course on global hip-hop all semester (I’ll share the syllabus soon), and if there’s one thing I hope my students take away from the class, it’s this: claims of American cultural hegemony, as demonstrated by the spread of hip-hop, are overstated. And this: looking for local markers as a sign of resistance is a red herring. So what if some rappers in Africa decide to sound just like Tupac? Rather than using such an instance to bemoan the so-called grey-out produced by American economic, cultural, and military forces, better to consider what it means in a particular place — how it informs local debates about selfhood and nationhood — to adopt an (African-)American accent and other sounds associated with global modernity.

Indeed, we need to constantly ask ourselves what it means in the particular places we live (Boston, Montreal, New York, London, Paris, etc.) to embrace the sounds of the DIY Global (“dirty”) South. I remain optimistic that it expresses something about our own grappling with the post-colonial, perhaps even cosmopolitan, circumstances in which we find ourselves — that, as Paul Gilroy might put it, we’re striving to cultivate, in the transnational metropoles where we live, a certain conviviality. Then again, such “engagement” / “grappling” can slide easily enough into selfish, self-centered appropriation and downloading-at-a-distance. On the contrary — if perhaps naively — I’d like to think of all this musicking as, inherently, a lot more neighborly than that.

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I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com


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