22 March 2006

Social Change Thru Global Hip-Hop

Last weekend, dj earball had occasion to attend the CD release party for the new album by Olympia-based Afro-Cuban ensemble Obrador. Well, we think of them as Afro-Cuban because of their longstanding relationship with both Afro-Cuban rhythms and the Guillermo Tomas School in Guanabacoa, Cuba. The school has been the recipient of many donated musical instruments brought by Obrador.

The new album, Para Los Ninos, shows this well-established group in collaboration with a different style of music: Brazilian rap. Ota, Killer, Grilo, and Berruga are the members of Fato Criminal, a group from the Guainazes neighborhood of Sao Paulo, where they have been working to promote social change through hip-hop. Fato Criminal came to the US in 2004, and this album is a live recording of their concert with Obrador at the Capitol Theater in Olympia, WA (with added backup vocals by Dennis Hastings and LaVon Hardison).

Four of the eight songs on Para Los Ninos include rapping by Fato Criminal set to Obrador's polyrhythms and punctuated by their horn section. Lyrics span four languages (Portuguese, Spanish, French Creole and English) and styles range from Cuban to hip-hop to jazz to funk. This song (from the band's website) appears on the new album, but this mp3 is a version recorded live in Havana.

[mp3] Obrador: "Nasty Figures (Live in Havana)"

Check out www.obrador.org for more information on the band (which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year!), including audio and video samples and information on the nonprofits they support. You can buy the album directly from the band, and proceeds from album sales benefit the Guanabacoa Project and the Hip Hop Youth Center in Sao Paulo.

For more on Fato Criminal, check out this podcast of People's Tribune Radio, an episode entitled "Change Society Thru Hip-Hop I."

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