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Rio #1: Samba at the Dawn of Modern Brazil

In part one of our Hip Deep Brazil series, we travel back in time to Rio de Janeiro in the early 20th century to explore the birth of Brazil’s most iconic sound: samba. Beginning with the arrival of poornordestinos in the city after the end of slavery in 1888, we follow the exploits of the early sambistas as they forged the genre that would come to represent the nation. Brazilian scholar Carlos Sandroni shows us how Afro-Brazilian religious music and popular styles likemodinha transformed into the syncopated samba beat. Then, media scholar Bryan McCann guides us through the glamor and political intrigue of 1930s Rio as samba explodes as the popular music of choice throughout the country. We speak with samba greats from the old guard to the young bloods, including Dona Yvone Lara, Heitorzinho dos Prazeres, Paulão 7-Cordas and Luciana Rabelo. In closing, we find out how samba, an ambitious radio station and a populist dictatorship worked together to shape Brazilians’ ideas about race, society and the Brazilian nation itself. (Produced by Marlon Bishop).

Rio #2: Samba Strikes Back!

Part two of our Hip Deep series on the music of Rio de Janeiro picks up the samba story where we left off in the 1960s, tracing the rhythm as it transforms and reappears throughout the many popular music forms that developed in Rio in the later 20th century. Scholar Frederick Moehn, author of a book about samba and pop music titled Contemporary Carioca, shows us how samba’s shadow reappears in the youth music of MPB stars Pedro Luis and Marcos Suzano, and how a samba revival led by young artists in the Lapa neighborhood revitalizes Rio’s urban core. Arriving in the 21st century, we see how samba’s footprint continues to reverberate in Rio today, in the form of the electronic tamborizão rhythm behind funk carioca tracks , and in the beats of Brazilian hip-hop pioneer Marcelo D2. (Produced by Marlon Bishop).

The Tropical Soul of Jorge Ben Jor

Jorge Ben Jor first began to experiment with fusions of samba, bossa nova, rhythm ‘n’ blues and soul in the early 1960s. Together with Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, he participated in the watershed cultural movement, Tropicália, in the late 1960s. In the 1970s, he further explored Afro-Brazilian history and culture in a series of popular albums that have since become key points of reference for a contemporary neo-soul movement. Jorge Ben Jor continues to be an active presence in Brazilian popular music. He grants us a rare interview to tell his story. The program is produced by Sean Barlow and co-produced with Christopher Dunn, author of Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture  (University of North Carolina Press, 2001) as part of Afropop Worldwide’s Hip Deep series.

Luis Gonzaga — The King of Baião

Sweet accordion riffs, the steady twang of the triangle, and the off-beat pounding of the zabumba drum make forro a favorite for all Brazilians. The infectious tunes and syncopated beats have been described as “a mixture of ska with polka in overdrive.” This edition of Afropop Worldwide’s Hip Deep will profile forro creator Luiz Gonzaga–from the wanderlust that led him from his rural birthplace in northeastern Brazil to a pumping career in the capital, Rio de Janeiro, in the 1940s. Conversations with Brazilian artists, recorded on location in the forro capital of Recife, following in Gonzaga’s footsteps. Co-produced by Megwen Loveless.

The Mighty Amazon

The Amazon River basin has long been a mystery to Brazil. Located far from the centers of business and power in the nation’s southeast, the jungle provinces of the Brazilian north have long been ignored by the nation at large. But recently, Brazilians have discovered that the cities and waterways of the Amazon are home to some of the nation’s hottest music. In this Hip Deep episode—a musical history of Pará state, where Afro-Caribbean influences have created a unique local flavor that connects the dots between Brazilian music and the rest of Latin America, we check out the guitar heroes of old-school Amazonian dance bands, investigate the origins of the early ’90s lambada dance craze, and explore the bubblegum bass culture of tecno brega. Featured interviews with singer Gaby Amarantos, lambada revivalist Felipe Cordeiro and ethnomusicologist Darien Lamen, among others. (Produced by Marlon Bishop).