Album Review: Ziminino – Ziminino [INTL BLK; March 2019]

Bahia, in northern Brazil, is known as being one of the largest hubs for Afro-Americans since the days of slavery. On Ziminino’s self-titled album (newly released on the INTL BLK label), black influences are to be heard in abundance.

With the Bolsanaro regime cutting the ground from many Brazilians, Ziminino show their support for the oppressed through a selection – not only rooted in Brazilian culture, but also for those who feel increasingly marginalised throughout the world.

Moreover, a feeling, a spirit of solidarity runs through these grooves – ‘When The Buildings Fall’ is particularly poignant, with stinging lyrics towards the end of the track, “…I’m the only one in this planet…”, demonstrating the isolation many are feeling with the way the world is going.

‘I’m Cool With That’ similarly reinforces this emotion, and you get the impression that many of the youths, both in Latin America and further afield, have something to look up to in Ziminino – which is far more than can be said for our leaders right now!

This body of work is mainly hip hop in style, but on other tracks – ‘Espaço Tempo’, for example – Candomblé can be heard, reminding us of the Latin roots present on this fine LP. Remembering their African heritage is a fundamental principle of the Ziminino project, but a vision of the future is also to be found among the group’s ideology. Today, one doesn’t have to be black – or from Africa – to feel the suffering of ordinary people.

An understanding of black cultures and empowerment helps to frame and strengthen this solidarity, which is vital for our development as humans. Ziminino are central to this ideology, and on this album, they carry a beacon – akin to an Olympic torch runner, if you will – on behalf of the downtrodden across the globe.

Despite enjoying this thoroughly, I feel that perhaps Ziminino could have been more adventurous and gone for a more dub-orientated sound, incorporating elements of reggae, which seemed to be absent here. That said, I found this to be a hugely refreshing listening experience – a world away from the all too common, narrowminded, stereotypical styles of hip hop being propagated by many other artists of urban music today. With racist leaders barking invective, intent on tearing down bark ‘n’ trees – hastening the destruction of our planet – the music of Ziminino needs to be heard. NOW!