Africa’s contribution to Brazilian culture is well documented. It gave the country samba, capoeira, the berimbau, as well as some of its cuisine. The state of Bahia in particular, owes much to its connection to Ghana and Togo specifically. What isn’t always as well known to people outside of Brazil are the lengths darker skinned people have had to go to for equality. While they have enriched the culture unfathomably, they themselves have been seen as an underclass, cut off economically and socially by racism. Sound familiar? And while the PT government closed this gap during the country’s most prosperous times, the corruption surrounding the party has led, sadly, to the far-right ugliness of current president Jair Bolsonaro.
So Ziminino can be seen as a statement of black global solidarity and Afro-Futurism as a reaction to creeping fascism. Rio-dwelling producers Rico Santana, Rafa Dias, and Boima Tucker, connected in one of the cities many hillside favelas over Atlanta Trap, Chicago footwork, and UK Grime, all sub-genres that rely on attention to radical edits, aggressive repetition, and a certain faithfulness to region. Yet, Dias, Tucker, and Santana also recognized a desire to celebrate African contributions to the world of music, and this record is the result. Deftly skipping between French, English, and Portuguese, all languages of colonizers, they’ve insisted that listeners see Africa as a place of continuing connection to the West, as the constant invention of musical micro-genres keeps showing. Ziminino, then, shows an allegiance to no particular genre, blending 808s with Candomble or samba samples.
Vocals soar on “Intermitencia,” for example, but behind them, a car window-destroying bass throbs a la DC’s Shy Glizzy. “I’m Cool Like That” is almost reggae, as it uses a clipped guitar figure for its base, but it also winks at trap and dances over pagoda as well. Track after track shows what good synthesists these three producers are; there’s a reason why Dias’ Carnival song of 2018 blew up online. What they’ve created here is genre-less and as such, it spells autonomy for Afro-Brazilians without the need for lyrics that are overtly political. INTL BLK’s flagship release oozes musical celebration in a time of deep political divisions worldwide. - Bruce Miller