AUDIE CORNISH, Host:
Think of Brazil, and odds are a certain kind of music comes to mind.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AGUAS DE MARCO")
ELIS REGINA AND ANTONIO JOBIM: (Singing in foreign language)
CORNISH: Like the bossa nova and the samba, part of the soundtrack of the 1960s hip crowd. But these days in Brazil, artists are reinventing those legacy sounds and creating new genres and styles. And to and to learn more about the new music coming out of Brazil, we turn to our friends at NPR's Alt.Latino, the online show featuring Latin Alternative music. Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd are the hosts. Welcome to you both.
JASMINE GARSD: Thank you for having us.
FELIX CONTRERAS: Thanks for having us.
CORNISH: Now, I shouldn't be embarrassed that I have a bunch of bossa nova CDs, right? That's a great song.
GARSD: Absolutely. This is a classic. This is "Aguas de Marco" or "Waters of March" by Elis Regina and Antonio Jobim.
CORNISH: So, what else are you finding out there for current Brazilian music?
CONTRERAS: There's all kinds of variety of music that just defies expectations and even explanation.
GARSD: Well, something very interesting when rappers in Brazil incorporate samba and all kinds of bossa nova with rapping and really awesome beats. So, you can hear people like Marcelo D2 do that. And one of my favorite Brazilian rappers who does that is Rappin' Hood from Sao Paulo. And I wanted to share with you "Sou Negrao " or "I Am Black."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I AM BLACK")
RAPPIN: (Singing in Portuguese)
CORNISH: This has all the elements of Brazilian music. There's a little bit of, you know, bossa nova's took a little bit of jazz and little bit of blues and made it something. And this, same thing. You know, you have the rap and you have other elements here.
CONTRERAS: Well, there's very strictly traditional underneath. That's a very traditional sound of the samba, with all the drums kind of layered on top of each other. What they did is they kept it very, very traditional and just started rapping over it, which I thought was pretty brilliant.
GARSD: And in fact, he works with this woman Lesi Brandao, who is a pioneer of Brazilian popular music. So, he definitely has a thing where he raps a lot but, for example, even the topic of this song, it's, you know, paying homage to people of African heritage and Afro-Brazilians. And in this one, he's talking, you know, he's just listing notable Afro-Brazilians and people of African descent from Bob Marley to Malcolm X. And it's just a song about pride and Afro-Brazilian pride.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I AM BLACK")
HOOD: (Singing in Portuguese)
CORNISH: So, what are some of the other things you found out there?
GARSD: Well, another band I wanted to share with you is Sacassaia. It's very electronica. I want you to think almost like think of a Tim Burton movie and tell me if this wouldn't be, like, the perfect soundtrack to a Tim Burton movie. This is the song "Ululai."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ULULAI")
SACASSAIA: (Singing in Portuguese)
CONTRERAS: The drop right there killed it.
CORNISH: That's excellent.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ULULAI")
CORNISH: Totally different sound there.
CONTRERAS: This song reminds me of what happens when you put technology in the hands of people who have an acute sense of rhythm and harmony but particularly rhythm with all the rhythms that go on throughout Brazil. And then when you combine it with being able to manipulate the pitch, the timber, but even the way it hits, it's bound to have something like this, where it just comes out as just fascinating.
CORNISH: How do you end up finding these artists? 'Cause, I mean, the language barrier, obviously, I mean, how do you track down these folks?
GARSD: You know, I used to live in a neighborhood with a lot of Brazilians in it, so I speak - I can get by in Portuguese. I wouldn't speak Portuguese on national radio. But so I read a lot of Brazilian publications. But also what we do is we hook up with Brazilian musicians and producers and we've really gotten some pretty good friends in the Brazilian music world. You know, we've hung out with Bebel Gilberto. In Wednesday's two-part special on Brazil is going to be co-hosted by Brazilian super producer Beco Dranoff. And he has just produced endless amounts of different genres within Brazil. So, where we are maybe lacking in information, we ask people who are in the know on our show.
CORNISH: So, Felix, are there any artists that you're getting really excited about out of Brazil?
CONTRERAS: We just touched the tip of the iceberg whenever we did our show. We broke it into two parts, and it still wasn't enough 'cause there's so much out there. But two that stand out to me - the first one is Guy Barato in a really interesting mix of almost '70s sound.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GUY BARATO: (performing)
CONTRERAS: The really primitive synthesizer sound - that's the dominant thing here. It's more of a dance beat...
CORNISH: Yeah, definitely. I was thinking we're in the club.
CONTRERAS: Yeah. I heard the synthesizer thing and it just took me back. Almost even like an early video game sound.
GARSD: We have a lot of, like, synthesizer arguments our show. Because Felix hates '80s synthesizers but loves '70s synthesizers. And I'm the opposite - I love '80s synthesizers and...
CORNISH: I will weigh in and say a little bit of synth is never a bad thing.
CONTRERAS: It goes a long way. This particular track, it reflects how the club scene, that's also breaking down barriers. And we're hearing a lot of very interesting music from all over the world when they mix in all these different cultures and yet there's still that house beat.
CORNISH: So, you've introduced all kinds of, it sounds like, new artists but how much of their influence is leaking into the mainstream pop music of Brazil?
CONTRERAS: Well, we brought an example. This is an artist by the name of Daniela Mercury. She's been around for a while but she's mixing in some of this stuff with what she's always done. It's very exciting. Check it out.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
DANIELA MERCURY: (Singing in Portuguese)
GARSD: You know, Daniela Mercury is very popular in Brazil and in all of South America. And she's from northeastern Brazil, From Salvador de Bahia. And what she does is she has a lot of samba reggae, she does a lot of basha. Basha being a particular type of music which originated in northeastern Brazil, which is a mix of Caribbean styles of reggae, marcha, calypso and pop music. What's great about this album is it's really a testament to how an artist, who's well established can put out a new album - the album's name is "Canabilia." She can be recognizable but still be testing out different genres and different influences. It's a wonderful, wonderful album.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
MERCURY: (Singing) La, la, la la Latin America, Latin America, America...
CORNISH: So, we have these newer artists who are embracing, in a way, some very traditional sounds. And, you know, what does that say sort of about what this generation is contributing?
CONTRERAS: It's kind of coming across Latin America and what we've seen so far in everything old is new. And that's what's happening in particular in Brazil. That's what happening. They're embracing that stuff. They're adding their own stuff to it, especially in countries that have an African influence.
GARSD: Absolutely. And I'd take it a step further and say as a Latin American, I do feel like our youth has a reverence for the elders and for old customs and for old music. I mean, when I go to a nightclub, a Latin nightclub on any given night, I will hear equal parts of a song that is a really old salsa song or a really old merengue song and a new one. So, there's a little experimentation but there's definitely a lot of honoring that.
CORNISH: NPR's Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd, hosts of NPR's music Alt.Latino podcast. Thank you guys so much for talking with us.
CONTRERAS: Thanks for having us.
GARSD: Thank you for having us.
CORNISH: For the next two weeks, Alt.Latino's going to be highlighting even more tunes from Brazil. And to discover new artists and songs, you can find them at NPR.org/AltLatino. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
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