Kuduro started by being solely a localized phenomenon in the poor neighbourhoods – the musseques – of Luanda and in the outskirts of the Angolan capital. Its pioneers were Sebem, Tony Amado, and eventually Dog Murras. They had immediate followers like DJ Kito da Machina, Pai Diesel, Zoca Zoca, Pinta Tirrú, Puto Português, Gata Agressiva, DJ Znobia, Nacobeta, Come Todas, and Bobani King… And some say that – just like the huge Bonga, the deep expert in the more ancient genres of Angolan music – kuduro is not more than an accelerated, modern, electronic, synthetized version of styles such as rebita, kazukuta, or kabetula. And it is not difficult – in spite of the different roots that lend an obvious local flavour to each of the genres we are about to mention – to understand that it has ties with South-African kwaito, the Carioca funk ball, the reggaeton that can be found all over the Spanish speaking Latin America, the Antillean zouk (brother of the kizomba, via zouk love, its slower version… kizomba, which in turn finds kuduro in the more sensual sub-genres of tarrachinha and quadradinha, electronic like kuduro but warmer like kizomba), the grime of the emigrant underworld of London, or the Jamaican dancehall.
But kuduro has increasingly jumped into the world both by the hands of producers and DJs that ‘have found’ it like Frédéric Galliano – who released the compilation ‘Frédéric Galliano Presents Kuduro Sound System’ in 2006 through his label Frikyiwa – and via other famous names of the international dance scene like M.I.A. or Diplo, or even through excellent documentaries like ‘Mãe Ju’ by Kiluanje Liberdade and Inês Gonçalves, ‘Kuduro – Fogo no Musseque’ by Jorge António, or event ‘É Dreda Ser Angolano’ by Pedro Coquenão (now better known as Batida), who in spite of focusing more on the Angolan hip-hop scene also accounted for the phenomenon and showed another of its major names: the band Os Turbantes; somehow differently, also by the action of the Franco-Cape-Verdean hip-hop band that has an enormous success in France La MC Malcriado, and particularly by the hands of one of its members that started to mix it with funaná, thus creating ‘kunaná’.
Here in Portugal, kuduro was first seen as a fleeting phenomenon and even a laughing stock: in the long list of freaks invited for his TV show –Vítor Peter, Pomba Gira, Natália de Andrade, Professor Alexandrino... – Herman José included in the beginning of the century the kuduro duo Salsicha & Vaca Louca, ridiculed for their ‘wild rhythms’ and their ‘opulent swinging’. But the revenge would follow suit. When Buraka Som Sistema released their first EP, which was homonymous and that in spite of being an EP and not an album had eight songs, we could instantly see that kuduro – covered in a more elegant sound and a more progressive patina in their work – was to be taken seriously. And people started to see the original Angolan kuduro with different eyes, reassessing it. And the rest of the history is well-known: records that were increasingly more praised and the overall recognition that transformed Buraka Som Sistema – a mixture of Portuguese, Angolan, and Indo-Mozambican and the perfect mirror of the melting pot in which Lisbon has been transformed in the past few decades) and Mariza (a fado singer who was born in Mozambique) into the major ambassadors of the Portuguese music.
As is well known, many other bands influenced by kuduro appeared in Portugal – namely Batida, Octa Push, and Throes + The Shine, who are also present in the Loulé Med festival. But heading them – also because they initiated it here but not only because of that – are the Buraka Som Sistema, who have since decided to go on an extended vacation period and had in Branko one of their leaders (next to Riot, Conductor, Kalaf, and Blaya). Buraka Som Sistema – let us not forget that – had an overwhelming success all over the world with some of their more emblematic songs (‘Sound of Kuduro’, ‘Kalemba (Wegue Wegue)’, or ‘Hangover (BaBaBa)’, and participated in several of the most prestigious festivals of world music, hip-hop and electronic music, earning several respected awards and collaborating with some of the greatest names of the new global electronic music, such as M.I.A., Diplo, DJ Znobia, and Deize Tigrona.
Branko was always the most active explorer of other sounds, both integrated in the Buraka, but also on his solo career. Called João Barbosa, Branko also acts as a DJ and producer under the pseudonyms Lil’ John and J-Wow. And his love for kuduro joins his research and admiration – that he uses in his solo work both live and on record as can be seen in his already historical EP ‘Going in Hard’ (2012), or the mini-album ‘Drums Slums Hums’ (2013), or the adventurous album ‘Atlas’ (2015) – and via other genres such as Miami Bass, Carioca dance, Afro-house, rap, drum’n’bass, and kwaito from South Africa (and of their current derivatives). In ‘Atlas’, an album that was recorded in five different towns all over the world and that Branko is showing at Loulé Med he offers parallel paths to those of his former band (BSS), but also several adventurous deviations. And with him in this adventure were Mayra Andrade (who is going to sing on the same day that he is performing at Loulé Med), MC Bin Laden, Skip & Die, Cachupa Psicadélica (also present in this edition of our festival), and Alex Rita.