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Bands We Like: The Mutant Kuduro Of Portugal’s Buraka Som Sistema

Bands We Like: The Mutant Kuduro Of Portugal’s Buraka Som Sistema

By Beverly Bryan
January 11, 2011

Buraka Som Sistema is a Portugal-based group of DJs, producers and emcees who take the bass-heavy Angolan dance style kuduro as the inspiration for their own addicting ghettotech hybrid.

Lil’ John (João Barbosa) AKA J-Wow, DJ Riot (Rui Pité), Angolan producer Conductor (Andro Carvalho), and MC Kalaf (Kalaf Angelo) adapt the brain-battering rhythms from the streets of the Angolan capital of Luanda for a western club using advanced production methods. Though they are seen by many as the standard bearers for kuduro, it’s really just a starting place for the group. They pull hip hop, dubstep, baile funk — anything with bass — into their sound.

Still, the Angolan influence has made the crew into reluctant ambassadors for kuduro. Today they are the name most commonly associated with the South West African street music, but a few short years ago they were just young fans of the sound who started a DJ night in a tiny, dirty Lisbon club where they played their own edits of Angolan kuduro tracks. The night, named Buraka Som Sistema, generated such a fervent response that a live stage show complete with emcees and dancers quickly grew out of it.

In 2006 they released the EP From Buraka to the World. In 2008 they released their furious debut full-length Black Diamond, causing a sensation. A big part of the stir was the weapons-grade album single “Sound of Kuduro” featuring DJ Znobia and M.I.A. — that, and the completely insane video for it filmed in Luanda. It was a hell of a calling card. Black Diamond also features young Angolan emcees Pongolove and Bruno M. and Deize Tigrona representing baile funk. As J-Wow put it in an interview, “It’s an album about the world without United States at its center.”

Buraka Som Sistema continues to move forward (and across the globe) pursuing intriguing collaborations, propelled by their own booming speakers. Lately, we’re all wound up over a Twitter post about them working with The Very Best.

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

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