Weekly Mezcolanza: The Ambassador

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A mixtape can be many things, but one thing is for sure, a mixtape is more than just random songs put in a particular order. It’s about recontextualizing sounds, giving them a new meaning (sometimes very different from the original) by setting them side by side, or juxtapozed in ingenious ways with others. Best thing about mixtapes, most of them are FREE (!), and they’re a great way to discover new music. In this new column, Juan Data gives you a worthy one every week.

MIXTAPE: Alma Doce
DJ: The Ambassador

We haven’t paid enough attention to Brazilian music on the Mezcolanza column and that’s a failure I’m set out to fix. Usually we, Spanish-speaking Latinos, make the common mistake of disregarding Brazilian music as part of Latin music just because it’s sung in a slightly different language. But Brazilians are Latinos también and they just happen to have one of the richest music cultures in the continent.

So in my search for a Brazilian music mix, I ran into the beautiful Alma Doce by San Francisco’s DJ and international soul connoisseur Allen Thayer, also known as The Ambassador. Besides DJing at the finest Brazilian music parties in town, Allen hosts the Soul Spectrum blog and contributes his knowledge to Wax Poetics and Fader, so you can guess that he’s no freshman in these matters.

Alma Doce is an hour-plus long DJ set of gorgeous old school, chilled Brazilian soul. None of the usual batucada madness and baile funk booty bangers that you get from most Brazilian music DJs and no pop crossover clichés either. In other words, if you were expecting yet another remix of Sergio Mendes’ “Magalenha,” you won’t find it anywhere near here.

We’re still very far away from summer in the northern hemisphere, but it’s summer’s peak right now in Brazil and if you can’t afford a plane ticket, this is kinda like the next best thing. Just close your eyes and sip on a caipirinha while listening to The Ambassador’s mix on your headphones and you’ll be instantly transported to a pool-side lounge at a fancy hotel in Copacabana. If you’re lucky you might even get to see some trimmed brown bodies in almost inexistent swims suits. Try it, you’ll see what I’m talking about.