Album Review: Marcelo D2 & SambaDrive – Living Room Live Vol.1

Thank God for Brazil, that land, full of artists who believe in there being splendour in their differences, producing music that is the stuff of mythology. First came samba, then samba grew into bossa nova, samba cancao, tropicalia, samba torta, add a hip-hop flavour, and we start to get an idea of Marcelo D2 and Samba Drive’s spirit.

Marcelo D2 is the MC, and Samba Drive the baixo, bateria, and piano. It makes for an elegant and raw affair thanks to the timbre of Marcelo D2’s raps over the classicism of Samba Drive’s instrumentals.

Beware: these 6 songs are very impressive, in a way that demands you visit Brazil, “A Maldicao de Samba” goes beyond the level of contemporary Americanhip-hopp, which is an astounding achievement. It seduces with the blend of textures narrated by Marcelo D2’s rapping.

“Desabafo” is lush, entrancing jazz playing. Samba Drive does a good job in playing to the contemporary condition, or at least my contemporary condition: one found living an infatuation with both the present and the past. Sultry music, “Samba de Primeira” is the most captivating of the 6 songs and wonderfully experienced as creative musicianship, making a memorable track.

This is contemporary Brazil, and it’s good. The other day, I met a young Brazilian critic Gabi at an exhibit on the art and culture of Afro-Brazilians at the Fowler Museum in LA. We spoke a bit about the street culture of Salvador de Bahia, which has produced a crop of musicians such as Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, and more recently Baiana System. There was something about the way that she let herself be carried by her tales of home that made me think of my own life and want to add a bit of hers to my own: the idealist politics, history, and finally the root of both her kinetic personality and of Brazil’s music. When I think of how to listen to this album, I think of her and Brazil, as well as the signs of life that have given such a wide-eyed smile.