- Príncipe are a Lisbon-based collective who specialize in a bizarre brand of kuduro peddled by the likes of DJ Marfox and DJ Nigga Fox. If you're unfamiliar, kuduro is a wiry and restless Angolan music that shares a syncopated strut with UK funky, but it's ultimately much twitchier. After a string of releases from the scene's biggest names, the label drops a sizeable EP showing off talent from the Lisbon's North and South sides. The former, known as Blacksea Não Mayo, live in a run-down part of the city and share an African heritage, while the latter—Piquenos DJs Do Guetto—are inspired by the first wave of DJs from last decade, namely Marfox and co.
These two crews use familiar sounds, sure, but they put them together in uncommon and often surprising ways. Their tracks have curiously spacious atmospherics—despite the crowded structures. DJ Kolt's "Afrooloove" feels huge and roomy, with plenty of hand percussion lolling around behind the track's gentle skip-and-strum. It's built with wacky synth sounds, rowdy vocals and unsteady rhythms, and often feels like some tribal ritual from a lost culture. The drums on DJ Noronha's tunes sound as if they were played live on drum machine pads, especially the feverish "Africa Congo," which is banged out with a hard-to-pin-down swing that that gives them an off-time quality.
Comparisons have been made between the music's fiercely local nature and that of grime, and there are some similarities. DJ Perigoso's tracks have a certain snap that we often associate with the resurgent UK genre, while DJ Maboku's "Instrumental P" has grime-style sounds—MIDI strings and flutes—cast in a tropical new light. But you won't get much further with comparisons here. Try to find something else that sounds like DJ Firmeza's "Dedicado Projecto Príncipe," with its fathoms-deep bassline and delirious vocal gasps. Even more impressive is how he follows it with a track that's all prettied-up with chimes, an elegiac counterpart to its wild predecessor.
The heart of Príncipe is its tight, sometimes confusing fusion of disparate styles, which is made literal when these crews come together to play the label's club night in downtown Lisbon. This EP proves that even if they come from different parts of the city, the Lisbon scene's adventurous and restless energy spreads out in all directions.
A1 DJ Kolt – Afrooloove
A2 DJ Perigoso - Decaléé
A3 DJ Perigoso – Dia Da Moka
A4 DJ Noronha – África Congo
B1 DJ Firmeza – Dedicado Ao Projecto Príncipe
B2 DJ Firmeza – Remeche As Coisas
B3 DJ Maboku – Instrumental Pe
B4 DJ Maboku, DJ Lilocox, DJ Firmeza – O Vento De Uma Verdadeira Amizade