Emicida ‘About Kids, Hips, Nightmares and Homework’ LP/CD/DIG (Sterns) 3/5

emicidaBrazilian rap music does not have an internationally renowned reputation, but Emicida is a man on a mission to promote a more socially conscious form of the genre.Certainly, the lyrics themselves, handily translated in the inner sleeves into English, are interesting and shed useful light on various issues in Brazil, and the combination of acoustic instrumentation with voicing is not without its merit.
Part of the problem for a non-rap specialist is that the voice needs to be either out of the ordinary, or else rhythmically challenging for a sustained listen to be in order for the average music listener. In the case of Emicida, the voice is somewhat unremarkable other than when he reverts to singing and that leaves the listener feeling less than satisfied overall. One bright spot is the guest appearance of veteran MPB singer Caetano Veloso who forms an interesting duo with the leader on the slow-paced rap of ‘Baiana’. The 1970s style synth intro and minor chord fender accompaniment from Xusa Levy works a treat and one wishes this collaboration could have been extended to several tracks and would have enhanced the musical experience considerably. Punchy beats predominate on the piano-led, ‘Mae’ (Mother) where Emicida sings in the chorus. If Emicida has enjoyed commercial success in his native Brazil, then the Gilberto Gil sounding instrumentation of the opening number, ‘Mufeté’ might explain in part why this is the case and the infectious samba/pop song, in addition, features some lovely melodic vocal harmonies that would not sound out-of-place on a Marisa Monte album. The cod-reggae of ‘Passarinhos’ (Birds) with beats is something of a disappointment and that opinion could be extended to the project as a whole, worthy though the intent surely is.

Tim Stenhouse