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The Rio Olympics gets underway, so time to get up to speed on as much Brazilian culture as we can. This playlist of some of Brazil’s finest samba, bossa nova, Tropicália, and disco cuts is guaranteed to get your hips gyrating.
Stan Getz – ‘Saudade Vem Correndo’ (1963)
Hailing from Philadelphia, saxophonist Stan Getz played a pivotal in the spread of bossa nova worldwide. On “Saudade Vem Correndo”, Getz teams up with Brazilian composer Luiz Bonfá on guitar and Brazilian vocalist Maria Toledo.
Fun Fact: If the song sounds slightly familiar, it’s probably because it inspired The Pharcyde’s classic track “Runnin’.”
Jorge Ben Jor – ‘Take It Easy My Brother Charles’ (1969)
You can’t talk about Brazilian music without mentioning Jorge Ben. Fusing samba, funk, rock, and bossa nova throughout his music, Jorge Ben’s success emerged with the rise of the Tropicália movement in the late ’60s. “Take It Easy My Brother Charles” comes off his self-titled album and will make you wish you had taken those dance classes back in college.
Os Brazões – ‘Carolina Carol Bela’ (1969)
You can’t talk about Brazilian music without mentioning Jorge Ben twice. However, this time the cover comes from the obscure psych rock band Os Brazões.
Jorge Ben Jor – ‘Obá, la vem ela’ (1970)
You can’t talk about Brazilian music without…oh, nevermind.
Evinha – Esperar Prá Ver (1971)
Evinha’s career began in 1958 when she formed the Trio Esperança with her siblings Mário Correia José Maria and Regina Correia José Maria. A decade later, she separated from the group (she rejoined in the ’90s) in order to pursue her solo career, pushing out classic tracks like the one below.
Fun Fact: The original on wax costs just short of $600.
Osmar Milito E Quarteto Forma – ‘América Latina’ (1972)
This is the ultimate anthem dedicated to the elegance and beauty of Latin women. Madvillain, MF Doom and Madlib’s collaborative project flipped the track on “Raid” from their Madvillainy album.
Trio Mocotó – ‘Swinga Samambay’ (1973)
Trio Mocotó served as the backing band for Jorge Ben, appearing on the albums Força Bruta, Negro É Lindo, and Tábua de Esmeralda. However, on their own, they were extremely influential in forming samba rock, and “Swinga Samambay” proves it to be true.
Originais Do Samba – ‘Falador Passa Mal’ (1973)
A collective formed in Rio de Janeiro in 1960 by percussionists of the samba schools, Belgium-based DJ and producer Lefto recently featured this track and its many crazy whistles during his Boiler Room set in Brussels.
Trio Ternura – ‘A Gira’ (1973)
“A Gira” was actually copied and translated by Brazilian vocalist Astrud Gilberto for her famous song “Black Magic.”
João Donato – ‘Amazonas’ (1973)
Fun Fact: Long story short, British DJ and avid record collector Gilles Peterson traded his Mitsuoka for electronica artist Floating Points’s 7-inch copy of this record. That’s right, a car for a record.
Tim Maia – ‘O Caminho Do Bem’ (1975)
Tim Maia was a crazy, crazy man. A video titled The Existential Adventures of Tim Maia best explains it: “His story is one of humorous excess in every way imaginable and has something for all the family: drugs, women, money, guns and even a UFO cult thrown in. He lived the dream, always with a smile on his face.”
Emilio Santiago – ‘Bananeira’ (1975)
It’s hard to be as smooth as Emilio Santiago when discussing plantain.
Clara Nunes – ‘Canto Das Três Raças’ (1976)
Clara Nunes, aka “Queen of Samba”, is considered to be one the greatest musicians of her generation. She was the first female vocalist in Brazil to sell over 100,000 copies of her records.
Fun Fact: When Portugal shocked France to win the Euro 2016 soccer championships in July, DJs were spinning this tune in the streets to troll.
Georgette – ‘Kiriê’ (1976)
“Kiriê” is a percussion-heavy samba track espoused by the legendary Gilles Peterson. Do you need more?
Caetano Veloso – ‘Olha O Menino’ (1977)
Another pioneer of the Tropicália movement, Caetano Veloso — composer, singer, guitarist, writer, and political activist — was actually arrested and eventually exiled in 1969 by their country’s military dictatorship.
Fun Fact: Hip hop drummer and producer Karriem Riggins flipped it and called it “Summer Madness” for a good reason.
Cassiano – ‘Onda’ (1977)
Genival Cassiano Santos has long been friends with Tim Maia, referring to themselves as “stoned musicians”, so you know he has gotten into some mischief throughout his career. “Onda” was recently sampled by hip hop artists NxWorries, Knxwledge and Anderson.Paak’s collaborative effort, on the track “Link Up.”
Rabo De Saia – ‘Ripa Na Xulipa’ (1979)
Brazilian disco at its finest.
Joyce – ‘Aldeia De Ogum’ (1980)
Joyce Silveira Moreno is one of the most famous names in Brazilian music, and her track “Aldeia De Ogum” became an anthem during London’s acid jazz era.
Marcos Valle – ‘Estrelar’ (1983)
This music video is a pure 80’s gold.
Seu Jorge – ‘Mina Do Condomínio’ (2007)
If you’ve ever seen the hit 2002 film City of God, you might recognize Seu Jorge as Knockout Ted. For three years, beginning at the age of 19, Seu Jorge was homeless. However, his impeccable musical talent earned him a reputation in Rio’s favelas and is now considered a renewer of Brazilian pop samba.
Bonde do Rolê – ‘Solta o Frango’ (2007)
Bonde do Rolê is a funk carioca-influenced electropop group from Curitiba, Brazil, made up of MCs Pedro D’Eyrot, Laura Taylor, and DJ/MC Rodrigo Gorky. Producer Diplo discovered the group on MySpace, signing them to his Mad Decent label, and they have been popping out tunes that close the gap between “dancing and dry humping,”as Pitchfork so astutely observed, ever since.
Swindle – ‘Connecta’ (2016)
Producer Swindle might be from the UK, but on his upcoming project, which is being released in three parts, he recorded the Connecta EP in Brazil. The Latin American influence is quite clear in the title track.