Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Skillz to Take Brazil: Strength in Numbers

Strength in Numbers

(Note: I had to slightly change my blog address to For some reason, rabbiontheroad.blogspot was showing us a Bible study group. Ironic much?)

We are quarantined in a tiny internet booth, sweating it out in the scorching heat of Porto Alegre. Yesterday we drove with Alessio and DJ Dossantos from Passo Fundo to Alegre, 5 of us crammed into a tiny ride. I had my Dj bag on my lap for the whole 4 hour ride, which was basically like having a 12 year old kid sitting there the whole time. Tingling legs, to say the least. We’re here in Porto Alegre to rock the underound Hip Hop show tonight with the End of the Weak Brazil affiliates. We’re bringing the raw BK style to the set tonight, and our very excited to get in front of a crowd of heads.

I’ve been collecting a serious amount of photos from the Passo Fundo show at Giba’s house and the last two days in town. Check out the lot of them on my myspace photo álbum @ You can access them even if you’re not logged into myspace (respect to you facebookers:))
Skillz to Take Brazil Photo Album

The remainder of our time in Passo Fundo was magical. We got in very deep with the UR$ Fundão crew, from the backyard barbeque to the studio to their family homes. Overwhelming hospitality and amazing comradery. On Sunday night, they prepared a giant churracsurria at Giba’s house, where we cyphered and sang the night away. Monday, we holed up in the UR$ Fundao crew studio, which they built up over the last 2 years. The studio is a humbling handcrafted lab, plywood wall, a mic booth, empty eggcrates on the walls and a computer. The studio is in the house of Paulhino aka E.T., the crew baby. He is 16 years old, and already a monster on the boards. We spent 8 hours there and recorded 2 songs: “Não Tem Preço Não” (roughly translated to “priceless moments”) and “Somos Assim” (“I am like...”). The first is a straight boom-bap banger, the second is a melodic narrative of everyone’s answer to the question: why are you an MC? The “Skillz to Take Brazil EP” is shaping up lovely:)

It is so reassuring and inspiring to see the cycle of Hip Hop creation replicated around the world. Through what other means could two MCs from New York and a French DJ end up in small town Brazil and instantly connect? It is truly remarkable and warms my heart. Not to mention, it’s the most fun I can imagine. Their families opened up their homes, put food in our bellies and laid down beds for us to sleep. These cats are so gracious and so dope. The mutual thrill is unbelievable. Fortunately, we captured that spirit with music on tape and photos galore.

There is such a rich rural culture in Rio Grande du Sol, the land of the gaúchos, the Brazilian cowboys. From the churrascurria to the chimarro drink to the football passions (Internacional and Grêmio are the regional clubs), we have been immersed in it, along with the nuevo Hip Hop legacy that UR$ crew is establishing. I think the best way to sum it up is to lift some musings from my journal.

Paz y Amor from Porto Alegre!

Strength in Numbers

As HG said, “In a town of 200,000 with violence issues, rampant poverty and a crack epidemic, it’s no wonder these dudes have a crew of 20 heads.”
We have seen this massive Passo Fundo Hip Hop platoon pull together to pull off a barn burning house party, handle the promotion, the sound, the security, the drinks and the booking. They put it together, built it up, broke it down and cleaned it up.
I have seen them in a living room with a birimbau sing traditional songs and play capoeira.
I have sat with them in a cypher accompanied by two guitars and the same birimbau, sing covers of Raciones MCs like they were traditional Brazilian anthems.
They have been jumped by the cops together for wearing baggy pants and Hip Hop gear.
They have lost dear friends to crack.
They have collectively invested in building a studio, from the plywood to the PC to the egg cartons lining the wall, glued and stapled.
They are always welcome in the studio, housed in a room in their youngest member’s family home. He is 16.
The love the underground and the classics.
Their mothers all feel like den queens, and we were fed by three of them.
Giba’s dog Pachine catches grief from everybody.
I have heard their voices meld as one in my ears and on car stereos.
I have seen them in my living room in Brooklyn.
I have stayed with them in Strasbourg, France.
I have lived among them as a brother in Prague.
They have proven and re-affirmed the theorum that is founded on the transformative power of Hip Hop.
I Passo Fundo, they are known as UR$ Fundão: Unionado de Respecta y Sabadoria.
The Union of Respect and Knowledge.
And they mean every word of it.

1 comment:

Clare said...

I adore this last picture. Lovely.