Whereas "Brazilian Beats" is a historical document, pulling together the best of Brazil's recent musical past, Afro Reggae are a current act and "Favela Uprising" is their latest album, featuring guest spots from UK rappers Ty and Est'Elle. In fact, Afro Reggae run deeper than music… as the press release states:
"AfroReggae is the band from Rio De Janeiro that is part of the cultural organisation of the same name working for social change within the favela communities. The organisation has achieved phenomenal success in the last 13 years, using music and cultural programmes to change the lives of thousands of people in the areas hardest hit by drug trafficking, violence and poverty".
The band, then, come up direct from the favelas (slums) of Brazil and have an essential focus on the experiences and struggles of those stuck at the bottom of the heap. To an English-speaking audience, the clearest articulation of this comes from Ty's verse on the opening track "Nenhum Motivo Explica A Guerra", where he and Est'Elle tear it up nicely over a fast-paced, live-sounding Hip-Hop fusion track.
The rest of the album is as open as "Brazilian Beats" when it comes to genre. At times the tendency is towards tight, upbeat alternative rock, for example on "Mais Uma Chance", "Benedito" and "Coisa De Negao". "Quero So Voce" and "Haiti" meanwhile are loose skanking reggae (with dub echoes thundering on the latter) and "Partida" leans into acoustic balladry. Funk, Soul and Latin elements are never really absent, which is undoubtedly a Good Thing.
Obviously I was always likely to be into the more Hip-Hoppy tracks on here such as double-speed soul-rap "A Aquarela Dela" and the aforementioned "Nenhum…". I can't deny though that I enjoyed every track on here, with the possible exception of "Partida", which was a little too Coldplay for my liking. The vocals are always passionate and well-constructed enough to make me wish for a better grasp of the Portugese language.
Until I can afford a holiday over there, then, I've got all the South-American sunshine I could want right here. Check 'em out if you get a chance…