Hip as Nationalist Project

Kuduru as an effort by politically connected Angolan elites to to package a fun and edgy dance born in Angola as soft power.

Let’s say you’re the son of a very wealthy president of a country that was fighting a long war for independence in the 1970s (remember, that war that’s been reduced to a subplot in a video game). Your father’s government just offered to bail out its former colonial power. It might not have been a great policy move, given domestic demands for infrastructure and social services. But it’s a grand “fuck you” way to say “our economy is booming and you don’t own it anymore.” How do you carry that torch?

Zedu dos Santos (the Angolan president’s son and namesake) got into a music scene with international booty shaking appeal. Last week Os Kuduristas kicked off their first US tour in a packed South Williamsburg bar.

The bar was their soapbox for big dance moves and big hair. They had the bartender nervously shoving glass candleholders out of the way when Fogo de Deus climbed up on the bar to do somersaults. Her eyes bulged when he launched into a straight-legged body drop and landed on his side with a straight face. They were very good.

Signs of a big budget doing something strange to a dance style started in the musseques or shantytowns of Luanda. But the Kuduristas make no apologizes for their hyper-production. Theirs is an honest effort to package a fun and edgy dance born in Angola as a national product.

Apparently they hired the New York marketing groups Cunning Communications Inc. and Thought Bubble Concepts to do the promotion.

They might also have been responsible for the night’s t-shirt and hat distribution.

But I have to admit; I was a little distracted by the crew (promo team?) they had posted at the door where a lot of women were dancing along in matching team jackets.

They greeted New York in Portuguese, saying, “this is Angolan Kuduro, coming to you straight from Angola.” (To which one confused fan cheered: “fuck yeah ethnic music!”) Loud music, aggressive rhythm. Tons of fun.

Their nationalist commitments are played better on their website.

Further Reading

An unfinished project

Christian theology was appropriated to play an integral role in the justifying apartheid’s racist ideology. Black theologians resisted through a theology of the oppressed.