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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America


By Ranjit Arapurakal
Published September 13, 2005

World Music Network

With the release of The Rough Guide To Brazilian Hip Hop, the U.K. compilers offer up a sampling of the scene? Js heaviest hitters. Standouts include 509-E, a rap duo whose name derives from their prison cell number, serving up a romantic love letter with a sexy West Coast groove in "Saudades Mil." Elza Soares' husky voice reflects the hardship of many Brazilians, as she presents a neck-breaking cover of "Haiti," written by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil back in the Tropicalia days. Chico Science and BiD's previously unreleased groove track "Roda Rodete Rodiano" serves as a reminder that in Brazil, there really are no genres. What's most refreshing about this compilation is the apparent absence of the bling-bling culture that has hijacked popular American hip-hop. These artists are raw and socially conscious, and as the informative liner notes tell, many are actually engaged in projects in their communities. With Brazil's many cultures and races, and her stark economic disparities, it looks like the "Hip-Hop generation" will have their hands full for decades to come.