My wife is Portuguese. Actually, she's of mixed Portuguese and Angolan descent. Her mother and father fled Luanda during the first years of the Angolan civil war, and settled in Lisbon. We now live in Los Angeles, but often visit her home city. Lucky for me, she's never had any qualms with my scouring of Lisbon's used-record bins for the still living, breathing music of her heritage.
As far back as the 1960s, there was a thriving recording industry in Angola. The largest record company of colonial ruler Portugal, Valentim de Carvalho, set up a pressing plant in Luanda and officially pressed licensed repertoire from labels like CBS and EMI. But some of the labels that existed before Angola's independence (Rebita and Ngola, circa 1972-1976) and its brutal civil war (CDA and Merengue, circa 1975-1977) sound nothing like the David Bowie and Barbara Streisand schlock that was hocked to the Portuguese people the 15 years prior.
Urban Angolan music from the 1970s was made for a populace in revolt. It is a heady, rhythmic sound that swings with the recognizable semba (which, as you might guess, draws from the same rhythms as the Brazilian samba) as often as it does with the Angolan merengue. It can jump into uncharted frenetic realms that are a unique mixture of local rhythms like rebita and semba, imported rhythms like samba and merengue, and rumba from neighboring Congolese tribes.
On a recent four-day stint in Lisbon, I made the familiar rounds. I picked up clean copies of beautiful Angolan 7"s and an odd LP that was exported to Portugal prior to the havoc-wreaking civil war, when production ground to a halt. The evening before I left, my wife introduced me to a Portuguese-Angolan friend; he's a DJ in Lisbon, but also an in-demand selector in Luanda. "Tell me," I inquired, hoping a like-minded DJ could settle the matter for me, "Why didn't any of Angola's '70s musicians play 4/4 funk? They play their guitars through wah-wah pedals, and they had access to all of the music that neighboring African countries took to so readily..."
"4/4 funk!" he laughed, in a response similar to those I'd heard from '70s musicians from neighboring Zambia. "Now why would an Angolan limit himself to a straight 4/4 funk!" Pointing at the records I carried with me he continued, "This music of ours that you love — this is our funk."