Racionais MC's

Nada Como Um Dia Apos O Outro Dia

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Lionized by some, demonized by others, Racionais MC's', a four-man crew representing the slums on the outskirts of São Paulo, pioneered hardcore hip-hop in Brazil, with their grimy production sound and intricate narrative structures that portray the harsh realities of the country's marginalized urban communities. Four years in the making, the group's fifth studio effort (a double-LP, divided into two sections -- "Chora Agora," literally "Cry Now," and "Ri Depois," or "Laugh Later" -- clocks in at over 110 minutes) takes listeners on a journey through the world of a favela-dweller, rife with hardship, tragedy, jealousy, betrayal, police brutality, and the seemingly banal everyday choices that can lead to death or survival. The imagery and the messages remain the same as ever -- the illusions of materialism, the lure of crime, the role of the police, and the ease with which the middle class views the impoverished as less than human -- and they are well-developed as the group doesn't hesitate to stretch first-person vignettes as long as seven and eight minutes. Sure, this kind of subject matter (enhanced by the record's murkily minimalist production) can weigh on the listener, but Mano Brown and company manage to throw in at least a few club-friendly, more danceable tracks like the '70s funk-driven "Vivão e Vivendo" and the old-school throwback "1 Por Amor 2 por Dinheiro" which sees the crew adopting a pass-the-mike rhyme style, doing their best Treacherous Three shtick. Stylistically, a few influences from up north are evident. While DJ KL Jay clearly favors the darker instincts of West Coast G-Funk (à la MC Eiht and Above the Law) with a few MPB touches (album-closer "Da Ponte Pra Cá" features a sample from Cassiano's "Onda"), and there's a lot of 2Pac behind Ice Blue and Edy Rock's impassioned deliveries, the overall political urgency which characterizes Racionais MC's' inevitably draws comparisons to Dead prez and their forefathers Public Enemy. As far as unflinching, reality-based hip-hop goes, it doesn't get much more compelling than Nada Como um Dia Após o Outro Dia. Once again, Racionais MC's stand as a strong counterpoint to the vast majority of MPB artists known mostly for their laid-back grooves and infectious, feel-good choruses.

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