A few years ago at a music conference in Morocco someone played me a documentary they had made during a trip to Angola. The film was full of wild fractured beats, of full on booty dancing that was one part Capoeira martial art moves and one part F.U.C.K.
Fuck to a wild electronic music called Kuduro. A music that was like an Angolan ragga but with tribal beats and a techno edge and put together on battered PC’s dredged out of rubbish skips in African back streets.

It was instantly captivating. And further proof that the focal points of music were fracturing faster and faster with micro scenes of new rhythms and ideas ready to connect with the rest of the world.

The music has continued to devlop since then. Getting faster and freakier with even more mental dance moves that defy and kind of natural movement. The music has spread across the world c/o the old Portegeuse empire – of which Angola was one part of.

In Lisbon Buraka Som Sistema had already been listening and created a western take on the music that was already hip in their hometown – Kuduro arriving there five years ago c/o the fact that Angola was once a Portuguese colony. Their 2006 MTV hit. ”ËœYeh’ brought them and by extension the genre some attention and Buraka’s current ”ËœBlack Diamond’ album is a perfect synthesis of European urban dance and the Angolan Kuduro.

The sound of the Angolan street, Kudoro’s fractured dance beats and ragga-esque rapping are a distinctive African take on the modern beat. Mashed together on borrowed computers and part of the soundtrack of modern Angola Kuduro is just one of many jiggy dance beats from round the world like Brazilian Baille Funk that are the sound of the teaming cities creating their own soundtrack swagger a million miles away from the cuddly idea of ”Ëœworld music’.

Kuduro is further proof that the real cutting edge music is worldwide: its on the streets of Angola or in the Brazilian favellas – its everywhere from Africa to France.

Kuduro’s distinctive fractured beats and almost robotic toasting gives the music a distinctive flavour and has put Angola on the musical map.

Kuduro found its way back to Lisbon and was picked up by young ears in the city namely Conductor who went on to put Baraka Som Sistema together with the fantastically named DJ Riot.

”ËœI grew up with Hip hop and lots of dance music but I was always searching for less obvious music. In Portugal Kuduro has been around for a while, If you knew where to look. It was something that you grew up with, a bit like growing up in London with reggae. My neighbour was Angolan and was doing those beats already. I remember Kuduro blew up really big from 1996 for six months and was a fashion in Portugal before going back underground.’

Buraka had been working on music already with his musical partner the fantastically named DJ Riot.
”ËœWe all went to the same school and instead of having Slash as my class mate I had DJ Riot so we grew up and put Buraka together.’

They took the more underground Kuduro they had heard and translated it with a European ear.
Their 1996 MTV hit, ”ËœYeh’, was the perfect synthesis of Europe and Angola. It resulted in a trip to Africa to film a documentary for the track, which they recorded with MIA on vocals.

Buraka Som Sistema have even managed to get MIA to do a vocal on one track. Her voice fits perfectly in the fusion between the Lisbon Euro sensibilities and the Angolan beats and vocals creating a perfect piece of 21st century electronic power- check out the mini doc they filmed in Angola for the track on youtube and feel the power of this unique fusion”¦

Then just look up all the other kuduro clips for an adventure into the modern urban. Groups of youth dancing around Kuduro beats coming out of mobile phones and mini mp3 players – one clip well worth checking out for the sensual bootylicious dancing and an incredible selection of dance steps from crippled youth with missing limbs from the recent Angolan civil war (which only officially ended in 2002).

can be found on MIA gives Buraka a further twist and was a cool idea.
”ËœMIA called our office in Lisbon wanted to know more about whole thing. We were going to do some album tracks with her but the chorus was so strong and what we wanted to use it as an introduction to our music as well mix with Angolan MCs and make something special from it.’
The trip to Angola was a reaffirmation of the power of music and the connections that can be made by beats.

”ËœI just brought my laptop to Angola to make it simple as possible. Most of these guys making the music were 40 minutes away from downtown and you have to go their bedrooms and stuff to make the music.’

And its that home made DIY quality that really shines through. Here you have a music untainted by the corporate world, a powerful music made by the people themselves to dance the blues away. Its bang up to date beats and construction on battered technologies is further proof of the fracturing of music. The fact that the best electronic beat driven dance music this year comes from Angola is wildly exciting and even if it took a couple of cool mixers from Lisbon to make it mainstream in Europe it still carries on under its own trajectory and that’s got to be celebrated.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Yaaaaaay – Kuduro!!! Thanks John for posting.

    HUNDREDS of Kuduro clips here…

    Here’s a mix from one of our African dance parties in Amsterdam a couple of years back…

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