Jef Delgado


baco exu do blues: bling meets politics

November 26, 2019
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On November 20th, Baco Exu do Blues performed at Audio in Sao Paulo, at the “Black To The Future” party that celebrated AFROPUNK’s partnership with the Brazilian festival of Black entrepreneurs, Feira Preta. November 20th is an important date in Brazil: It is the “Dia da Consciência Negra,” Black Awareness Day, the primary national celebration of Blackness in the country, and marks the anniversary of the death of Zumbi, a Black revolutionary leader who resisted his Portuguese enslavers and led a quilombo (a free Black community) for over 30 years in the 17th century. Hence, as it should be, the “Black To The Future” night was a party with the air of protest.

Baco arrived accompanied by artists from his 999 label, and the night featured performances by those artists: Celo Dut, DKVPZ, Virus and Young Piva. The powerful verses of Baco’s hit album, Bluesman, were sung by an audience eager to see a singer who makes real films from his music video clips. In fact, the short film for “Bluesman” earned Baco the Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions festival, one of the most important in the field of advertising. It was the latest in the string of awards received by the album and the film, generating over 20 million YouTube views and a 495% increase in the artist’s monthly Spotify listenership. The film has also sparked an important new debate on institutionalized racism and has inspired a national movement whereby people are identifying themselves as “Bluesman” in support of Baco Exu do Blues’ message.

Where his 2017 album debut Esú established Baco as one of Brazil’s great young rap artists who was important to the national conversation around Blackness, Bluesman has proved more impactful, going even further. It is more feeling than description. Bluesman is Africa, it’s New Orleans, it’s Caribbean and Bahia. It is anger and love, it is pain, depression and a lot of self-esteem. It’s weight, it’s a strength. It’s also kind of horny. It’s Baco Exu do Blues remembering that the Black people are fucking great. In his performances, the singer brings a touch of hip-hop bling, and mixes it with the protest. There is a sophistication in his sound that confirms his thesis: everything is blues.

Recently, Baco Exu Do Blues has begun to introduce new artists to the audience through 999 Records. Celo Dut, Virus and Young Piva are from Salvador, Bahia, they are the guys on the single, “Antes eu corria atrás.” DKVPZ is the production duo responsible for many of the beats on Bluesman, and they arrive firmly with, “Nega rara”, the next track set to be made available through 999.