By Nathan M. Walters, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Maga Bo’s new album, Quilombo do Futuro, was released last week to much well deserved international praise. Bo, with the help of top-notch collaborators, manages to cover the vast territory of the Afro-Brazilian musical landscape, coupling multiple genres of African-inspired rhythms with infectious vocals.
The result is a bold statement on the direction of world music and forthright challenge to the power structures that continue to oppress; a significant step towards the realization of the sound and ideas of the transnational bass movement.
Twelve tracks take the listener on a journey through the history of African music, traversing the spectrum of Afro-Brazilian rhythms (coco, maculelê, samba, jongo, baile funk and capoeira), but also flirting with Jamaican dancehall, ragga, hip-hop and dub-step.
The remix album (Quilombo do Futuro Remixed) was released on May 29th, and builds on the solid base of the original, pushing the futuristic element of the album to the next level.
Originally from one of the most important musical cities in the U.S., Seattle, Bo has put down roots in Rio, where he has lived for the past thirteen years. The artist has also traveled around the globe collecting ideas, setting up artistic residencies in Morocco, India, Ethiopia, Senegal, Zanzibar, South Africa.
In many ways Quilombo do Futuro is a history lesson as much as it is an album of great music. The title refers to the autonomous, fugitive settlement founded by ex-slaves and others in colonial Brazil.
“The quilombos are often thought of as being communities composed only of ex-slaves. In most cases this was true, but a few quilombos were pluralistic democracies, welcoming a broad range of people into the community. I wanted to capture this idea with the album, a collection of different influences all working together.”
One message of the album, communicated through the visual aspects of the album cover and accompanying video, foresee a futuristic community where music is controlled by a police state. “Capoeira was a response to a ban on physical training, samba was banned in the past, and baile funk is currently being banned” mentions Bo.
“Music as tool for cultural resistance is engrained in Brazilian culture, Quilombo do Futuro continues this tradition. The idea of quilombos in the future promotes dialogue about how we eliminate corporate dominance to create a sustainable existence.”
Maga Bo has performed in over forty countries and will be supporting Quilombo do Futuro in upcoming tours through Europe and North America. Those in Rio will get a chance to catch Bo live this Saturday (June 2nd) at Arcos do Teles, where he, along with Digital-dubs Sound System and others, will be performing at the open air PARALELEPIPEDO. Bo explains; “This type of event is great for Rio, introduces more people to the interplay between different genres.”
The changes now happening in Rio (the influx of foreigners and tourists, world-wide attention) combined with a long tradition of cultural cannibalism (anthropophagy) suggests the pluralistic vision foreseen by Maga Bo may not be that far off in Rio.