Monday, February 23, 2009

Skillz To Take Brazil: Short and Sweet, Fatigued and Drenched

Short and Sweet, Fatigued and Drenched

This will be a short and sweet entry, as we are finally taking our leave of soggy Porto Alegre. It has been raining on and off for 3 days, but fortunately it was sizzling hot and crystal clear yesterday for the “Hip Hop Compromissa Festival” in the Alvarado Favella, just outside of Passo Fundo.


Once again, I find words unsuitable to capture the positive energy and community spirit that surrounded us. This was an all-day, all-elements festival held in an outdoor amphitheater. There 30+ groups/artists that performed, along with a mass of breakdancers, graf writers, beatboxers and MCs. Nego Prego brought us along to rock a short set and enjoy the vibe. The whole day flowed like one long cypher; at every circle, the local cats were anxious to jump off a freestyle session with the “New York rappers.” Always ones to oblige, we spent a great part of the day under the sun coming off the top. I got some great video and great pics, and we met some really passionate, skilled artists.

At its late afternoon peak, there were probably around 1,000 people in attendance. Nego´s crew invited HG and I onto the stage to freestyle, which was dope. We did encounter another ramshackle sound system… Check out the pics to see the tangle of speaker wires, taped-up mics, stacked amps and homemade woofer casings. Seriously, they may have been diverting the power for this stage from a city lamppost, Boogie Down Beat Street style. Another inspiring cyclone of energy and a serious study in multi-elementalism: the b-boys were beatboxing and rhyming (sometimes simultaneously!), the graf artists were DJing, the MCs were breaking… Full circle.

We finally got to rock late in the evening, debuting “Little City” with Nego Prego, and then sending the stage into a freestyle frenzy. Selling CDs is particularly difficult in the heart of the favella, where asking 5R$ (the equivalent of about $2.50) is still asking a lot. We gave out boatloads of stickers and ended up giving out a lot of albums as well. We had to basically be shuttled into the car to leave, caught up signing copies of our CDs and trading email info with the latehangers. It was so worth it to hang around an extra two days to see the local Hip Hop community pull together and rock the roof of this outdoor stage. All love, much improvising and lots of diversity. Pretty much the story of this tour so far.

Tonight we´re hopping a midnight bus and heading to the coastal island of Florinapolis, an 8 hour trip away. We´ll arrive tomorrow morning, just in time for the last day of Carnaval, which is celebrated large in Floripa. We really need a couple of days of natural beauty, ocean air and steady sun. After that, it´s up to Sao Paolo wrap this trip up and lay down some more tracks for the album. 6 more days to flex the Skillz in Brazil…

On the road again,


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