Published Apr 08, 2014As a genre driven at the best of times by deft spoken wordplay, foreign-language hip hop hasn't found the same ease in penetrating North American territory as other more instrumental or singer-driven international styles. But that's a challenge Brazilian rapper Karol Conka — a breakout success in her home country whose debut album, Batuk Freak, first reached a global audience via the latest iteration of EA Sports' expertly curated FIFA video game soundtrack — faces head on with the uncaged rhythms her album's title suggests.
Karol's enviously malleable vocals skip, stomp and sing in equal measure through a dizzying synthesized soundscape shot through with American Trap and traditional homegrown rhythmic influences that inform each of star producer Nave's adventurous compositions. Between the borrowed drums of Lil Wayne's "A Milli" on "Boa Noite" and the dancehall flavour that closes the record, Batuk Freak winds its way through easygoing Saturday night jams, dissected repente chatting, and self-assured grind anthems like "Olhe-se" and "Voce Não Vai" with an unrelenting percussive prowess.
All is compelling fodder for Karol's stylish and unfaltering flow, as the record's electro-tinged sounds reveal a progressive new approach in a Brazilian landscape traditionally more musically in tune with rap's sonic past. (Mr. Bongo)