The fusion of rock, soul and pop with regional and samba rhythms marked the emergence of MPB (Música Popular Brasileira/Brazilian Popular Music) in 1966, shedding light on artists such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé and Chico Buarque. The tastes and artistic expressions of Brazilian society have changed considerably since the 1960s, but the principle of having a versatile style of music, characterised by bridges between genres and the constant quest for new sounds, continues to inspire new generations everywhere.
Today MPB’s hybridisation has embraced every musical trend you can think of. In Rio, groups like Abayomy and Seletores de Frequência draw their influences from funk, jazz and Afrobeats. From Salvador, BaianaSystem explore what Paul Gilroy called the Black Atlantic (translator’s note - academic term in English sounds better with clarification), as well as Afrolatino sounds, mixing alternative rock, reggae and electro. Coming from Brasilia’s scene, the musicians in Scalene play stoner rock infused with indie folk. As a worthy successor to Marcelo D2, Criolo, and Emicida, Bahian rapper Baco Exu Do Blues dresses up his flows with drums and Afro percussion. And much like Pernambucano pianist Zé Manoel’s jazzy melodies, the sophisticated arrangements of the Carioca Ana Frango Elétrico gives pop songs a new dimension.
References to samba and bossa nova are still the best ways to sound ‘Brazilian’. With a touch of electro, the smooth songs of Carioca Rubel modernise the style that João Gilberto established. As symbols of the extraordinary richness of Brazilian music, the traditional rhythms of the North and Nordeste have become a definitive part of the new generation’s repertoire. In Bahia artists such as Luedji Luna and Bruno Capinan have been inspired by the Afro rhythms of Candomblé to create new sounds, and the Martins from Pernambucano use swaying carimbó to enrich their creations.
For anyone venturing fearlessly into this new musical territory, there is no limit to the variety of artists whom you’ll encounter. This is one of the fundamental elements of Brazilian music in the 21st century and it’s the same for every generation. While singer Ava Rocha records with the experimental jazz group Los Toscos from Bogota, the trash metal rock scene of Recife – in the persons of Lenine and Alexandre Guarnizé – comes to lend a hand to the ten musicians of the Foli Griô Orchestra.
The new wave of MPB has also inherited the power of protest from its illustrious predecessors. In Bolsonaro’s Brazil there are many causes to defend and many artists like Lineker, Jaloo, and Johnny Hooker are involved in fighting for LGBTQ (translator’s note - we tend to add the Q in English) rights and fighting to support minorities and preserve freedom.