Lisbon’s Underground

Principe Discos

Cargaa 2 EP

Nidia Minaj Danger Album

DJ Nigga Fox Noite e Dia

Underground Lisbon has been crafting a sound completely its own for the past 10 years. Producers call it “batida do gueto” or “beat from the ghetto”, and it has roots in the fast tempo kuduro from Angola (from where many Afro-Portuguese are descended), kizomba, tarraxinha, and funaná from Cape Verde, as well as having hip-hop and trap influences. Once I heard it, I concluded it occupies its own genre beyond existing classifications.

Chal Ravens puts the sound in a wider societal context, writing that the visibility of musicians like Nigga Fox outside the ghettos “feels like a statement” given the geographic segregation of Lisbon, where the black African population has been pushed to less accessible suburbs, and Portuguese laws limit migrants’ rights (see Ravens’ well-written article on Principe Discos for UK publication The Wire).

Nidia Minaj, Black$ea Não Maya, DJ Marfox, DJ Ly-COox, DJ Nedwyt Fox, Puto Anderson and Deejay NinOo, just to name a few, are some of the artists killing it right now with their “frenetic and raw sound,” some of whom are quoted in Ravens’ piece. Lisbon’s Príncipe Discos record label has been releasing music of these and many other artists based in Lisbon creating batida. The UK’s Warp Records has also released 2 EP’s featuring batida artists, Cargaa 1 and Cargaa 2.

All the artwork for Príncipe releases (some pictured at the top of this post) are individually hand stenciled and painted by Márcio Matos.

So here are just a few tracks that I’ve had on repeat and been sharing with a few music confidantes. Though classified as  “Electronic” by iTunes, don’t be fooled, these tracks are full of groove and will without a doubt keep you on the dance floor. I love that they use futuristic sounds totally absent in mainstream commercial U.S. pop and even more commercial African music. Add this to the polyrhythms they create, and you get an earful of body shaking music that sounds like its from another world, maybe one in the future or one in the past.

These artists talk through electronic software instruments like the ancestors spoke through acoustic drums. I love hearing how each artist plays with so many different rhythms to find new grooves and new ways to speak through electro percussion on every track. It’s like the roots are completely intact, just vibrating through a different apparatus while simultaneously creating something new.

“Grandes Invejosos” by DJ Nedwyt Fox (Cargaa 1 EP, Warp Records):

“Lumi” by DJ Nigga Fox (Cargaa 1 EP, Warp Records):

I’m a big fan of 18 year old Nidia Minaj.

DJ and Producer Nidia Minaj

A few reasons why. “Mambos Fudiz” and “Sentimentos” on her Danger album: 

And all this is barely scratching the surface of what these artists have to offer.

Continuing our internet foray into contemporary Lusophone* (Portuguese-speaking) culture, we meet with Alexandre Francisco Diaphra. Portuguese poet and artist of Angolan and Guinean parentage, he released multimedia project, Diaphra’s Blackbook of the Beats on July 6, 2015.

Poet and multimedia artist, Alexandre Francisco Diaphra

  The project is “part beat tape, part poetry and part post-colonialist discourse“(see Laurent Fintoni’s Bandcamp blog post on Diaphra, “Beats, Rhymes and Identity” for more about it).

Interesting to note that Diaphra made new connections in his formerly fragmented identity while in Brazil.

Don’t be surprised if next time you see me it’s in Lisbon getting down with all these cats.

Stay tuned for another post on this Lusophone theme when I look at legendary Carioca samba composer, musician, and singer Martinho da Vila and his album, Lusofonia.

*Lusophone countries: Where the Portuguese language is spoken. Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, and São Tome and Principe. (from


Catching Flies "Quiet Nights"

Catching Flies DID IT with this track and I love it soo much. He flipped the classic bossa nova and jazz standard \”Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado),\” written in Portuguese by Tom Jobim and English by Gene Lees. Astrud Gilberto sings the vocals, which have been slowed a bit for this song and I don\’t mind at all.
I love how this track still has that melancholic feeling of the original, yet in an \”updated\” way: a bit more echo on the vocals and a bass line that is just enough without overpowering. I love how the guitar riff has a folksy feel, it doesn\’t tire–not sure if it\’s a sample as well. Either way, I\’m digging it. Then piano also appears, taking the aural journey further into the dream realm and reminding me of the sweetly played piano throughout the album on which I first heard the original song, Getz/Gilberto (1963). Enjoy (pssst, there\’s a free download of Catching Flies\’ \”Quiet Nights\”, get it!).

starRo "Lust"

Ugh! I mean that in a good way. I LOVE THIS TRACK. What starRo did with it is just so nice. That straight samba pandeiro going about 80 miles per hour and then **!bam!** starRo flips it. Here\’s a bit about starRo, Shinya Mizoguchi (from his Bio on Soundcloud): A native of Tokyo, Japan and now resident of Los Angeles, California – starRo, the rising sun whose story permeates much farther than the music he makes, but rather an embodiment of sacrifice, persistence and passion…read more.

Sango – Da Rocinha 2

This was released January 14, 2014. Sorry I took so long! I honestly don’t like to say too much about the music I post, I want you to experience it for yourself. The whole album is dope, but one of my favorite tracks is “Baile Somebody”. You’ll recognize the sample from Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?” Brazilian music heads will recognize the baile funk rhythms throughout. I really dug the bass he put on there. Anyway, enjoy! (psst, free download! click the link ;)) Also be sure to check out the first Da Rocinha.

Da Rocinha 2 by Sango

Sango on:



#WorldCup2014 Realness Pt. 2: Street Child World Cup

Okay, I had to do a Part 2 on the World Cup (please spare me all your CPT jokes).

On a more uplifting note, there was a Street Child World Cup held in Rio this year. British charity Street Child United in association with Save the Children and several global partners held the second ever Street Child World Cup in Rio in April. Over 230 former street children from 19 countries came together in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a unique football tournament, festival of arts and a participatory conference. The event got support from Pope Francis, Prince William Duke of Cambridge, World Cup winners Gilberto Silva and Bebeto and football legend Zico.

Watch the video above to see footage from the kids who participated.

Street Child United aims to provide a platform for street children to be heard, challenge negative stereotypes of street children and to promote the rights of  street children.

Since the Rio 2014 games, teams have returned to their countries and spoken to Presidents, Prime Ministers, Parliaments, Governments, national television, communities, schools and street children championing their triumphs and the rights of street children across the world. To find out more about their impact visit

#WorldCup2014 Realness Pt. 1: Rich vs. Poor

Yes, the World Cup is long over but I still have to say my piece. Many people already have a notion of Brazil as the country of coffee, soccer, samba, and sex. As a cultural worker, I suppose I’m representing the last two. I found out that it’s deeper, though. Brazilians take a different attitude toward all three. Soccer is not just a game in Brazil (or in a majority of the world for that matter), Brazil is soccer’s “spiritual home.” Almost everybody plays, it’s part of the cultural fabric. That’s why this World Cup is so special.

I love that more people are paying attention to everything about Brazil now that it’s hosting the World Cup, and soon, the Olympics. The vast and rich culture including its music and dances from the folk to the contemporary–there’s a lot to discover and appreciate in the “country of the future.”

I’m glad there are more eyes and ears on Brazil both for the fact that there’s so much beauty there and also for the prospect of people broadening their perspective of the country. As your local Samba Queen, it means I definitely have to stay on top of my game while representing the art of Samba abroad. But just as important for me is the opportunity to bring attention to viewpoints not present in mainstream news, which was my goal with this post:

So several people are shocked that I’m not in Brazil for the World Cup. I’m honestly not a big sports fan, so football madness wasn’t really appealing. My glamorous life of Samba Dancing in the big apple has me busy just making rent these days anyhow. After watching the Vice News World Cup reporting I wouldn’t want to be there anyway, my first world guilt might get the best of me. Tim Pool reports from the ground in “Contra a Copa: The Other Side of Brazil’s World Cup”, showing how chaotic the lead-up to the games has been and documenting the dissatisfaction of many Brazilians with the government’s prioritizing a major international event over domestic conditions and social services. Pool and his guide go from marching and encampment protests numbering in the thousands in Rio, to the largest favela (slum) in Latin America, Roçinha, where rapper Weelf gives a tour pointing out the 24-hour police surveillance cameras installed upon pacification; the Maracanã stadium where games are being held and rich fans chant for poor fans to shut up; and into Rio’s new central hi-tech surveillance center where all police forces, civil, federal and military, watch over the city. Burning cars, an apparently innocent civilian disappeared, civil unrest. This is that realness the international media reported on in 2013 when million of Brazilians took to the streets sparked by a public transportation fare increase. For many Brazilians the games are out of reach because it’s so expensive to get tickets, and even local street vendors have been banned from selling immediately outside the stadium. It’s like everyone is invited to your house for a party but you’re not allowed to leave your room. But you’re not a kid, you’re a full grown adult. And your parents decided to go ahead and renovate the living room but you’d have to pay to go in it. You get it. You would be protesting, too. All of this just makes me look at that Coke commercial with the cute black kids dancing a little differently. Also note the music in this piece, by DJ Babao. Gunshots are part of the baile funk beats.

Check out Vice’s World Cup Coverage playlist on YouTube. 

Oh, yeah, and a quick Google search of online English-language media today returned just this 300-person protest in Sao Paulo on Tuesday reported by NDTV. So maybe football fever has taken hold and folks are wary of protesting..

Brazil Now

Afropop Worldwide’s latest show on Brazil highlights the sounds Brazilian artists are creating now. Apparently there’s a pervasive feeling of being unbound by traditional sounds of samba and Brazilian percussion. Baile funk has been influenced by Caribbean sounds and some artists are exploring electronic music more. It all makes for an interesting aural landscape. Also of note is Brazilian artists’ reaction to the World Cup; many are upset at FIFA (soccer’s governing body) rules and see the infrastructure created for the games as ultimately useless in the long term, although now a celebratory atmosphere pervades the country. This is definitely worth the listen! Free download as well ;). Enjoy.

Brazilian Boogie

Sometimes I get so excited about some tracks that I just post them up and say nothing, hoping folks will trust my impeccable taste and just listen. This mix was one of those moments. The selections are just so FUNKY and the perfect tempo for summer, lilting and carrying that groove, just right to get you in the mood for the beach or straight chillin’. I’m going to post the track list for this soon, stay tuned.

Check out this article by Allen Thayer on my beloved about Lincoln Olivetti, Brazilian musician, songwriter, arranger, and producer. Get descriptions and insights about every track in Thayer’s article.

Track list:
1. Dicró “Disco Voador” from Dicró (Continental) 1979
2. Marcia Maria “Amigo Branco” from Marcia Maria (Capitol) 1978
3. Erasmo Carlos “Alem Do Horizonte” with Tim Maia from Convida (Polygram) 1980
4. Jorge Ben “Rio Babilonia” from Dádiva (Som Livre) 1983 (this is my joint!!)
5. Tony Bizarro “Estou Livre” (Elektra) 1983
6. Painel de Controle “Black Coco” (RCA) 1978
7. Tim Maia “Não Vá” from Tim Maia (Polygram) 1980
8. Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti “Eva” from S/T (Som Livre) 1982
9. Emilio Santiago “Dentro De Você” from Ensaios de Amor (Polygram) 1982
10. Almir Ricardi “Tô Parado Na Tua” from Festa Funk (RGE) 1984
11. Cristina Conrado “Sempre Juntos” (WEA) 1984
12. Gang Do Tagarela “Melô do Tagarela” [“Rapper’s Delight” Instrumental] (RCA) 1980
13. Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti “Aleluia” [B-side to “Babilonia Rock”] (Som Livre) 1982
14. Sandra Sá “Pela Cidade” from Vale Tudo (RGE) 1984
15. Painel de Controle “Relax” from Chama A Turma Toda (RCA) 1979 [mine’s from a “best of” collection]
16. Dedé “Sinceramente” (CBS) 1983
17. Cristina Camargo “Moral Tem Hora” from S/T (CBS) 1980
18. Junior Mendes “Copacabana Sadia” from Copacabana Sadia (RCA) 1982
19. Marcos Valle “Bicicleta” (Som Livre) 1984
20. Sandra Sá “Se Grile Não” (excerpt) from Olhos Coloridos (RGE) 1982
21. Claudia Telles “Conselhos” from S/T (CBS) 1978
22. Viva Voz “Fugitivos De Azul” (Som Livre) 1984
23. Jon Lucien “Come With Me to Rio” (Som Livre) 1983
24. Emilio Santiago “Velhas Içadas” (exceprt) from Ensaios De Amor (Polygram) 1982