Wednesday, 9 December 2015
Killer Opening Songs: "Convoque seu Buda" by Criolo
For more than three decades rap has been mainly known as an Anglophone, US-born, African-American-driven musical phenomenon. At the beginning, lyrics focused more on social and political issues. However, with the passing of time and with the wealth-accumulating habits of certain rap artists, the genre has lost its initial bite somewhat.
Not everywhere, mind you. There still exist places around the world where rap is being used as a weapon of war to address important issues. Killer Opening Songs is proud to introduce an artist who has done precisely this since his scene-stealing debut album No Na Orelha in 2011.
Criolo is a slum-raised Brazilian singer (and singer is the key word here as he not only raps but also has the pipes to deliver some of the most beguiling and beautiful melodies ever. For evidence of this, please, listen to the third track on No Na Orelha, Não Existe Amor em SP). It is to his second album, Convoque seu Buda, that K.O.S. is turning its attention tonight, especially its Killer Opener, the title track. The song builds on the same elements that made its predecessor, No Na Orelha, Rolling Stone magazine’s Best Album of the year almost half a decade ago. There’s the hard-hitting commentary on the economic, social and political situation of Brazil, especially in the build-up to the Olympic Games next year. All this is mixed with catchy, foot-tapping beats and delivered with panache and maturity.
Whilst rap is Criolo’s main means of expression, the album Convoque seu Buda (literally, Invoke your Buddha) is testament to other styles this son of São Paulo has adopted. There is reggae, Afrobeat and samba throughout the record. Killer Opening Songs even detected the influence of Tropicália, the 60s and 70s musical movement that sought to blend different styles such as rock and funk with more traditional Brazilian rhythms. As mentioned before, Criolo is not just an outstanding rapper but also an excellent singer songwriter as demonstrated in the fourth track, Casa de Papelão, a haunting song whose harsh subject matter, homelessness, contrasts beautifully against its sophisticated arrangements. It also has one of the better bass hooks Killer Opening Songs has heard in a long time.
It is again the K.O.S. that is the leading character in this album. Convoque seu Buda, both title track and album show that rap has not died a slow death; killed by corporate appropriation and greed. No, rap has found a new lease of life, but now it is singing in Portuguese… and Spanish.
Next Post: “Saturday Evenings: Stay In, Sit Up and Switch On”, to be published on Saturday 12th December (GMT)