From Baile Funk to Kuduro, Nídia Collides a Universe of Afro-Diasporic Sounds on Her Debut Album

Lead Photo: Photo by Marta Pina. Courtesy of Filho Unico
Photo by Marta Pina. Courtesy of Filho Unico
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Portuguese producer Nídia isn’t the girl who moved from Lisbon to Bordeaux when she was only 14 years old. She isn’t even the same teenager who shook our brains and bodies with her breakthrough 2015 EP on Príncipe Discos, Danger. The producer, who previously went by the name Nídia Minaj, uses the opening track of her debut album Nídia é Má, Nídia é Fudida to stomp hard and claim her place on the international electronic music scene as a “Mulher Profissional.” On 11 tracks – 14, if you score the CD version – the Portuguese artist displays her dexterity for crafting off-kilter bops.

Rhythm is the force that’s going to draw you into Nídia’s orbit. The project is deeply rooted in contemporary African genres that have found their way to Portugal – especially kuduro. There’s no use in fighting the dance urges you’ll get from the syncopated percussion found on tracks like “Brinquedo” and “Biotheke,” for instance. The same can be said of Afro-house number “House Musik Dedo,” the slow grind of tarraxinha jam “Puro Tarraxo,” and the aforementioned “Mulher Profissional,” which is a straight-up funk carioca track that even samples MC Nandinho’s eponymous hit, all of which add to Nídia’s diversity in taste and approach.

But what sets Nídia apart and links her to her labelmates at Príncipe is her use of dissonance. Some of these tracks may test you; “Arme” is a neurotic assault of high-pitched synth brass and clashing vocal samples that stutter frantically as they drill heads. On extended listens, the phased-out quality of the galloping beat of “Toma” may cause fatigue, and the intrusion of an off-key siren synth on “Brinquedo” might test your patience. That’s why, in a rather smart move, these songs last an average of 2:30 minutes. The effect of these challenging elements is one of urgency, producing a euphoric state when paired with the rest of the album’s buoyant rhythms.

Two dance-oriented tracks represent a break from the album’s more challenging moments. On “I Miss My Ghetto” and “Underground,” Nídia uses samples of acoustic instruments as central harmonic elements, and they color the sound in an almost forlorn fashion. “I Miss My Ghetto” evokes this mood even conceptually, since it’s an ode to Vale de Amoreir, the bairro she grew up in. Similarly, “Underground” samples guitar plucks rhythmically, which will no doubt have you weeping at the club.

Nídia é Má, Nídia é Fudida is a bold debut album for Nídia. On it, she tears textbook notions of electronic music to shreds, and decides to write her own, where chapter one is “I can make any idea work.”