Bringing Brazil’s Northeastern culture to the world

Common figurines sold at craft stands around Brazil.

I’ve never been to the Northeast of Brazil, but I have paid R$5 to walk through the doors of the Feria Nordestina in Rio de Janeiro’s North Zone. Doing so, one clearly realizes they’ve entered a new world. It is a world that in the United States or Europe would represent an ethnic immigrant neighborhood, a place with all the trappings of a distant home, foreign to the place a certain group of people have chosen to congregate, in search of a better future. The food, the knick-knacks, the clothes, and above all, the music all instantly transport one to somewhere else. Perhaps a familiar unfamiliarity for both tourists and for second-generation Southeastern Brazilians whose parents want to give them a taste of their roots!

This is the place where you can get access to musica nordestina, without fail, any time of the year in the Southern metropole thatis Rio de Janeiro. There are hundreds of music venues, from the two big stages on either side of the fair grounds, to the impromptu freestyle sessions of repente in the center, to the reggae sound system of Maranhão roots that wouldn’t be out of place in Kingston, Jamaica — save for that the language they call for wheel ups in is Portuguese.

And this is all immediately what I think of when I listen to Kafundo Vol. 3: Electronic Roots from Northeastern Brazil. Rio de Janeiro with its samba, bossa nova, and funk sounds, exported to the world have claimed a Monopoly on Brazilian national identity for too long. And it is the young globally plugged in and hip electronic music producers that may be the ones to develop a take on Northeastern rhythms that might just supplant a conservative Rio de Janeiro cultural scene.

Coco, forro, brega, carimbó are the names of the Brazil do futuro, even if most Brazilians are yet to catch on to this reality. Kafundó records’ intention to focus on Northern and North-Eastern Brazil, a region with a large Afro-descendant, indigenous, and mestizo population, and a music scene that is heavily influenced by Caribbean sounds, will only speed this process along, as they expose these exciting new/old sounds coming from Brazil’s too long underrepresented cultural North.

Kafundó Records Vol. 3 is out this week at all your favorite digital stores.

Further Reading