A Filial


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There's nothing especially new about the idea of blending American hip-hop and Brazilian pop music, but somehow the Rio skate crew known as A Filial makes the idea sound utterly new and exciting. Maybe it's the softer edges of the bohemian circle from which this group emerged (as distinct from the harder São Paulo hip-hop scene), and maybe it's just the fact that its members are able to release some of their youthful energy through shredding, but A Filial's take on Brazilian hip-hop is simultaneously joyful, rhythmically complex, startlingly resourceful (good luck identifying more than 60-percent of the group's sound sources) and slyly humorous (notice how "Brown Sueter" flips the script of hip-hop's bling-bling traditions). And they do it in both Portuguese and English, mixing and matching ghetto beats with lilting samba rhythms, turntablist flourishes with local percussion instruments, and choral calls and responses. This wonderful album has hardly a weak track -- though the singing isn't always as compelling as the rapping and the beatcraft -- but note in particular the swaggering beat and the alternating languages on "Baiao One Two," the gorgeous and tantalizingly brief "Tanta Coisa," and the firmly rocking "Vira Lata." Brilliant.

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