In recent years, a palpable exchange between Brazilian and Portuguese club music has unfolded, one where afro-diasporic rhythms have initiated a transatlantic musical dialogue. It goes without saying that this exchange is largely a product of the colonial history of these two countries. But in this ever-evolving era of globalization, where immigration and digital culture have changed the way we consume music, electronic producers and artists from both places have continued to find inspiration in these styles. Their irresistible, syncopated rhythms have proven to be infallible throughout history, despite a bitter legacy of colonization.
With the spectacular rise of baile funk from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the international mainstream, and the explosion of genres like kuduro, kizomba, and tarraxinha in Portugal, thanks to a thriving Angolan immigrant and refugee population, the sounds of the Lusophone African diaspora have been influential and ubiquitous in recent years. Even Marc Anthony, Will Smith, and Bad Bunny got the funk carioca fever. And who could forget when Don Omar completely misinterpreted kuduro on his best-known song?
Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Portuguese producers are using these sounds to stay in touch with their roots and their realities, while others from different backgrounds just identify with the power of this music and see its potential to ignite dance floors. Along the way, some of them have found common ground between their music and their peers’ work on the other side of the pond. A cross-pollination has started taking place, sprouting new mutations of rhythmic wonder.
We compiled a list of eight producers from Brazil and Portugal who are commanding dance floors by experimenting with these sounds. Check them out below and sound off in the comments with anyone we may have missed.
NÍDIA (formerly Nídia Minaj) is the only woman signed to Príncipe Discos, and also its breakout star. The daughter of a Bissau-Guinean mother and a Cape Verdean father, Nídia Borges creates music directly connected to club genres from Lusophone countries. On her debut album Nídia É Má, Nídia É Fudida, she dives right into funk carioca on her first track “Mulher Profissional,” then effortlessly jumps from tarraxinha to kizomba to funaná. Plus, you can bet there are kuduro beats for days. Her style is celebratory and disjointed, with dizzying synths and re-contextualized samples that make for a puzzling but high-octane dance session.
Marginal Men (Brazil)
Gustavo Elsas and Pedro Fontes have been creating funk carioca banger after funk carioca banger since they formed Marginal Men in 2011, and it doesn’t seem like they’re stopping anytime soon. The Rio de Janeiro duo, who are currently based in São Paulo, produce music that collides baile funk with sounds from other global dance genres. Peep their collaboration with DJ Japah and MC Brinquedo, which features an Afro-house-like beat and Afro-Brazilian percussion. They extrapolate this vision in their celebrated DJ sets, a truly respectful and forward-thinking celebration of the favela sound.
Born in the Lisbon suburb of Damaia, electronic music producer PEDRO has gone from bedroom producer to dance floor assassin in just a few years. The Enchufada signee is a self-described child of Buraka Som Sistema, someone who has inherited the same passion for kuduro and other African and afro-diasporic sounds, like kizomba and tarraxo. His music also builds a bridge between Portugal and Brazil, as he often dabbles with baile funk and collaborates with Brazilian artists, like he did with Paulista MC Rincon Sapiência on “Na Quebrada.” The Branko protégé, who used to perform as KKing Kong, is reportedly preparing for a big release later this year, previewed by the Buraka-sampling track “Rapazes.”
Iasmin Turbininha (Brazil)
Iasmin Turbininha champions one of funk carioca’s latest mutations: 150 BPM, a term that alludes to the speed that beats are played. Her dizzying mix of raunchy vocals, minimalist beats, and blazing tamborzinho is a fresh take on the genre, and it has earned her thousands of followers in real life and on her noted YouTube channel, the main outlet she uses to release her music. Turbininha is a trailblazer in the baile funk scene, as she became one of the first women to DJ bailes in the favelas. As an openly queer artist, she has also continued to open the doors of bailes to LGBTQ audiences.
DJ Lycox (Portugal)
Formerly a member of the Tia Maria Produções crew, Paris-based Portuguese producer DJ Lycox debuted as a member of Príncipe Discos in 2018 with his first full-length Sonhos & Pesadelos, a title that does a good job framing his musical aesthetics. What sets him apart from his peers is his use of melody and harmony, and his ability to conjure all kinds of emotion. He can make a complex kuduro beat sound romantic, an Afro-house track sound menacing, tarraxo sound epic, and funk carioca sound nostalgic. DJ Lycox gives us the physicality of Afro-diasporic rhythms, but also puts us in our feelings.
As Ubunto, Salvador, Bahia DJ and producer João Gabriel Pereira crafts dance tracks connected to African and Afro-Brazilian music with a global bass approach. In part, his relationship with these sounds come from his religion, candomblé, so he references them with care and respect. Genres such as funk carioca, carimbó, kuduro, and Afro-house are usually found in his productions, as well as local styles like pagodão and other local traditional rhythms. Beyond music, Afro-Brazilian culture also informs his work; folkloric traditions like Zambiapunga influenced his latest project, Careta EP.
Dotorado Pro (Portugal)
When he was just 16 years old, Dotorado Pro shook up the Portuguese electronic underground with his dance anthem “African Scream,” even breaking into the Iberian country’s sales charts. Originally from Angola, Valdano Silva arrived to Setúbal, near Lisboa, at a very young age, after his parents fled the Angolan Civil War, but he stays in touch with his roots through music. He’s been producing thumping kuduro, kizomba, and tarraxo since he was 11; his signature mix of melodies played on synthesized African instruments like kalimba and marimba (he’s the self-proclaimed “king of marimbas,” as his own EP title shows), vocal snippets, and carefully-built beats are instantly recognizable.
Waving the flag of funk paulista, Viní experiments with unconventional ways of conveying the groove and passion that baile funk is all about. His latest EP, 2018’s MEGATRON, finds him riffing on a theme, playing with sounds and space in a way that makes us imagine an alien tamborzão broadcasted from the future back to us. On his recent collaboration with fellow São Paulo producer MAFFALDA, he breaks out of his form and introduces traditional batucada percussion to his music, creating striking results.