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Angola & Brazil, Semba & Samba, A Musical Twinship

Angola and Brazil in focus for the morning hours of Sound Travels. Honestly, I wasn't even thinking about the irony of their connection when I was thinking about what to play for you all; I simply wanted to play some vintage Marcos Valle samba and later zeroed in on a semba song from Angolan Carlos Lamartine, not even thinking about the curious connections Angola and Brazil have as well as the one that semba and samba have.

Configure this, both Angola and Brazil share a Portuguese connection as Portugal was colonist and conqueror of each country respectively. The Africans they enslaved came from possessions in Africa, Angola particularly. And despite a lack of connection, each country simultaneously experienced the birth of their principal, respective national musics. Even as Angolan descendants were imparting European forms like tango, polka and choro (a Brazilian jazz) with African rhythms, catalyzing the sound and giving birth to samba.

Carlos Lamartine "Ó Dipanda Wondo Tula Kiá" Historias do Casa Velha

In the 1960s and 1970s, Carlos Lamartine was one of the leading voices in the struggle against the Portuguese, and this collection highlights the difficulties and victories of the liberation movements he was a part of. 

Lamartine plays semba, a typically Angolan genre rooted in traditional carnival rhythms, such as kilapanga, rebita, kazukuta and kabetula. In semba, much of the rhythm is not carried by drums, but instead by guitars, allowing the music to develop more complex chords, some of them borrowed from the Portuguese's rich melodic heritage. 

Marcos Valle "Mentira" Previsão do Tempo

Previsao Do Tempo was made in the early 1970s, when Brazil was under military rule and government censors were always on the lookout. Valle's lyrics are underrrated, subtle criticisms of the regime in Brazil. Valle wrapped his coded political commentary in seductive music that echoed The Beatles and Stevie Wonder.

But his percussive vocal style feels very modern, just like Frank Ocean and Drake kinda have that raper-meets-soul-singer sound. It'd probably sound right in a mix with Jose James, Robert Glasper or even Alt-J. 

In the early 20th century, as samba was being born in Bahia and Rio in Brazil, Angolans in Angola were also revolutionizing their sound in a similar way, albeit under different circumstances. The European influences were also there albeit in less concentrated form. The radical shift was not only the European sound, but the instruments they brought with them. Though the semba sound that was born of this collaboration, and it's a similar situation as Brazil, it all happened independent of each other. 

To me, it's as if they were twins separated at birth, too similar to deny their fraternity. Both styles functioned as an outlet for their collective political frustrations; protest music wrapped in seductive poetry. 

Production Manager | Radio Milwaukee