Brasilintime: culture and syncretism

Hip hop syncretism — the aggressive combinations of sounds and players from many cultures.  Here visible in the nice B+ film — Brasilintime w/ a cadre of great drummers and DJs.   It includes:

–> One of the best examples of cultures appropriating culture ad infinitum when Jay Rocc cuts up “Apache.”

–> The Brazilian parallel with “Comanche!”

–> Not enough Nelson Triunfo.

–> Babu’s scratch session which seems the most inspired and flexible — connected to the music.

–> Paul Humphrey and Ivan “Mamao” Conti seem to jam exceptionally well together.

–> The inspired chaos of the polyrhythms made when six drummers get down and DJs cut on top of each other is a little much at times.  Maybe my ears aren’t big enough . . .

–> The graphics seem excessive in the first half.

–> Hip Hop’s version of the colonial lens includes shopping for rare records in the field.  American learning is commensurate with getting a bargain or getting something that other people can’t as easily get.  In this case we get Paul Humphrey, Derf Reklaw and James Gadson shopping for out-of-the-ordinary percussion instruments and Cut Chemist, Egon, Madlib, Jay Rocc, and Babu shopping for records.

In some ways we can call this syncretism — where distinct cultures inform each other – exchanging language, food and music.  The nod to difference that comes when the American DJs and drummers acknowledge they don’t know something about Brazilian music is matched by the assumption that they can buy and lift chunks of that music for western audiences.

I don’t have any problem with people traveling to other nations — there is something funky about this particular narrative — hunting for nuggets of music seems so crass at points.  Like Egon getting the group price for all the records the crew was buying.

I dislike it when the specifics of the culture blend into the background and I like the moments of the film where the details pop out.  The interviews with Brazilian drummers make this film (despite my linguistic inabilities to get chunks).  I’ll probably mark some cue points in the video and chop it up — take the parts that I like and leave the rest on the digital scrap heap.

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Filed under colonialism, cultural appropriation, funk & soul, hip hop, music

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