Os Kuduristas: Hip as Nationalist Project

Let’s say you’re the son of a very wealthy political leader, from a country that was fighting a long war for independence in the 1970s (remember, that war that’s been reduced to a subplot in a video game). Your father just offered to bail out its former colonial power. It might not have been a great policy move, given domestic demands for infrastructure and social services. But it’s a grand “fuck you” way to say “our economy is booming and you don’t own it anymore.” How do you carry that torch?

Zedu dos Santos (the Angolan president’s son and namesake) got into a music scene with international booty shaking appeal. Last week Os Kuduristas kicked off their first US tour in a packed South Williamsburg bar.

If you missed the pre-tour publicity (they’ve also been hitting Europe), here’s the promo video again:

Back to Williamsburg. The bar was their soapbox for big dance moves and big hair. They had the bartender nervously shoving glass candleholders out of the way when Fogo de Deus climbed up on the bar to do somersaults. Her eyes bulged when he launched into a straight-legged body drop and landed on his side with a straight face. They were very good.

Signs of a big budget doing something strange to a dance style started in the musseques and shantytowns of Luanda. But the Kuduristas make no apologizes for their hyper-production. Theirs is an honest effort to package a fun and edgy dance born in Angola as a national product.

Apparently they hired the New York marketing groups Cunning Communications Inc. and Thought Bubble Concepts to do the promotion.

They might also have been responsible for the night’s t-shirt and hat distribution.

But I have to admit; I was a little distracted by the crew (promo team?) they had posted at the door, there seemed to be a lot of women dancing along in matching team jackets.

They greeted New York in Portuguese, saying, “this is Angolan Kuduro, coming to you straight from Angola.” (To which one confused fan cheered: “fuck yeah ethnic music!”) Loud music, aggressive rhythm. Tons of fun.

Their nationalist commitments are played up better on their website.

* In the next instalment Boima Tucker, who DJ’d at the event, gives his take on Os Kuduristas.


6 thoughts on “Os Kuduristas: Hip as Nationalist Project

  1. I saw them Sunday at a dance party in a venerable Greenwich Village restaurant packed with some of the best House dancers in NYC, which is to say, on the planet. Hip, electric, wired in, globalized, grooved and glam. All th.at stuff. Didn’t know about the presidential connection but they were definitely financed. I’m the proud owner of a free cap and CD myself. Like Megan Eardley says they are gloriously overproduced and amazing fucking dancers and they had that crowd of equally talented and highly competitive dancers hopping. Huge fun. They did an anti-military riff. Having traveled through Angola on a solidarity trip in 1984 I scarcely imagined that even the children of the decayed MPLA elite were so hardwired in to the global youth culture.

  2. I’m a bit stunned at the lack of critical analysis of the politics of the appropriation and international performance of kuduro by the very same people who have brought (and profited from) more than three decades of sorrow, tears, and blood in Angola. Are we so excited by how “hip, electric, wired in, globalized, grooved, and glam” they are that we’ve abandoned all of our critical faculties? Does the violence, the terror, and the disappearances, well, disappear in the face of well-produced and marketed music and dance?

  3. It was an accurate description of the scene not an endorsement jk. They were all those things and they fit right in with their peers and the Brazilian dancer that came on before them. Os Kuduristas was not what i think of when i think of the MPLA. The anti-military routine they performed only reinforced my impression they came out of the musseques That they are the children (or grandchildren I suppose) of dos Santos et al certainly changes the context.

  4. Greetings maybe everyone here should investigate the real origins of Kuduro as opposed to the Westernized (mis) interpretation. The founders of Kuduro : DJ Bruno de Castro, Tony Amado, Sebem and its bigger early promoters were from a middle class background , not from the what you presume a musseque to be. Kuduro started in downtown Luanda by middle class / wealthier kids who were able to travel abroad and had the means to get the technology to produce it. It then spread all over Luanda , then Angola and Angolan diaspora. Think I’m making this up check with the historians. And researchers . Think the Angolan ones are not credible , no problem check what western ones such as Stefanie Alish and Marissa Moorman , you can also look up the findings of the International Kuduro Conference . Context is everything , if you want to comment on another culture , actually find out more than what your clique tells/shows you. That’s what independent thought is about

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