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buraka som sistema
buraka som sistema interview
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Kuduro: the sound of Angolan dancefloors.

Every country has its street sounds. And in Angola, it’s DIY techno made by ghetto kids who’ve been listening to too much Benny Benassi on MTV. Over the last five years kuduro (it means “hard ass”) has spread through the capital Luanda and out to migrant Angolan communities in Portugal. Right now, kuduro is a huge force in Portuguese pop music – and its leading proponents are the super-tough Buraka Som Sistema.

“We’re pretty big now,” says 28-year-old DJ Riot, real name Rui Pité. “It’s funny: we tried to make hardcore dancefloor tunes, and then there’s ten-year-olds and grannies dancing to us at festivals.” The trio – Pité plus Joao Barbosa (aka Lil’John), and Andro Carvalho (aka Conductor) – met in the Lisbon suburb of Amadora and named themselves after a local reggae outfit who’d mistranslated the term soundsystem (it should be “sistema do son”, not “son sistema”) and the nearby Buraka area. Recently signed to Modular Records, BSS are the missing link between baile funk, breakbeat and Baltimore strip-club ghetto-tech, and they give more weight to the idea that music’s epicentre has shifted away from London and New York.

“People are looking to find something new,” says one-time drum’n’bass producer Pité. “There’s great music coming from Saigon. Most of our influences are from England – as far as dance music goes, I’m as British as you – but there are kids in Brighton now who are listening to kuduro and baile and dubstep and that’s going to throw up some interesting music. It’s going to be good for the world.”

Planet Earth will also be grateful for Yah!, Buraka Som Sistema’s adrenalised single that recalls Sheffield bleep denizens LFO filtered through a booty machine. “It’s just about dancing,” says Pité. “It’s about the MC and his skills to make someone go random.” Their live show, hitting the UK this summer, includes DJs, drummers, percussionists, three MCs and dancers. It is, says Pité, “a pretty energetic carnival.” Meanwhile, kuduro continues to evolve. “There’s been a lyrical revolution. In Africa, there’s gangsta kuduro, religious kuduro and hardcore, triple-X stuff. Right now, it’s big.”

Emma Warren 21 June 07
Buraka Som Sistema – Yah, out now on Modular.
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