Brazilian rapper Marcello Silva decided recently to leave Rio de Janeiro to spend a few months in New York City. The idea was to seek new insights, references and ideas for his music, born and developed inside Rio’s hip hop/funk culture. This special time in the Big Apple resulted in a new artistic name -- Dughettu -- and a new album, BPM021, recorded at Red Bull Studio in Los Angeles last October.
"The album title is a reference, and a reverence, to Rio de Janeiro, my hometown,” Dughettu says. “The number 21 is also my birthday, the phone code of Rio de Janeiro... It is a lucky number for me."
The album credits names such as Jordan Battiste, who produced the album with Brazilian producer John MacDowell; Lance Drummonds, a rising name in New York’s R&B scene; French singer Adeline Michele, one of the newest talented soul singers with a beautiful voice; the Brazilian sound engineer Rafael Tudescos; as well as rapper Ernest Exclusive from Brooklyn, who Dughettu met for the first time backstage at a Mos Def show. In addition to names that reflect the vibrancy of New York’s music scene, the album also includes DJ Nino from Rio de Janeiro, Dughettu's longtime friend and professional partner.
The artist's next steps will comprise the launch agenda of BPM021, fully activating the connection between Brazil and the United States. In early November, three songs from the new album will be released online, along with a “making of” video. Then -- always on the 21st of the month -- a new song will be released for the following four months. Read on as Dughettu explains his New York experience and the processes behind the new album.
"Hip-hop goes beyond music. It is impossible to think about culture today without hip-hop as one of its main protagonists."
Red Bull: Talk about your decision to leave Rio and immerse yourself in New York City. Did you find what you were looking for?
Dughettu: I wanted to move forward, go to the source, think about new ways to do things and, especially, to grow and develop myself as an artist. New York is the birthplace of the hip-hop scene and there is no other place in the world where I could see how to transform that culture in the lifestyle that most influences young people on the planet.
Hip-hop goes beyond music. You see its presence in many areas -- economically, politically and socially. Companies, stamps, clothing, communication agencies, film, music, theater, TV, sports -- whatever. It is impossible to think about culture today without hip-hop as one of its main protagonists.
I found more than I could imagine! I got there with the first master in hand, hoping to remix that material and with three or four more tracks written. After the whole process, here I am with a new album, 12 unreleased tracks, a documentary, a video clip, an experience inside Red Bull Studio in Los Angeles and with a network that is much more than I ever hoped for.
Red Bull: How did you combine Rio de Janeiro and New York influences for your new album?
Dughettu: The first step was to invite my “brother,” DJ Nino from Rio de Janeiro, to produce as much as possible during my time in New York. He already had in mind some hip-hop and funk beats that I had been looking for. Then, the Mos Def show in Brooklyn put me in contact with rapper Ernest Exclusive. We had a chat where I spoke about my project and showed him some links to introduce him to my work and funk artists, including the concept of the Red Bull funk project. [Ed. Note: Started in 2009 as a celebration concert for the 40 years of Rio de Janeiro funk, Red Bull Funk-se became a national tour in 2010 and is in its second season this year, traveling through different cities of Brazil with DJ Sany Pitbull as curator.]
Further, Ernest played me his beats and I got surprised that even without him knowing anything about Rio de Janeiro, the tracks had much influence from Miami bass and funk. So, we partnered on some tracks for the new album, as he wanted to "poison" the tracks with elements of percussion and dub step. Exclusive was also the one who introduced me to Jordan and suggested him to produce my album. Jordan is a great musician/singer and brought a melodic taste to the project.
But, at that time, we still needed a Brazilian signature on the album. When Brazilian singer and composer Marcelo D2 played in Central Park, I met John MacDowell. On the first track, “Revolution,” I used some lines from Juh de Paula, a young poet from Brazil, the voice of Michele Adeline from France, arrangements from Jordan from New Jersey, and choruses from Lance Drummonds from New York, so the track has a very multicultural vibe, and it became the principle guide for the whole album. Then came “Taca Fogo,” which reinforces the fusion of hip-hop and funk and it predicts the strength of this sound connection.
Red Bull: What will be the first single to promote your new album and why did you choose it?
Dughettu: It will be “Taco Fogo,” because I want to set fire! Fire is an essential element for us; it is the beginning of everything. Everything happens from the discovery of fire, and I wanted to use this analogy with a positive meaning, revealing vibrancy and enthusiasm. Also “Taca Fogo” is an expression I always use to start anything, so I use this Brazilian slang to start my new project.
Red Bull: Tell us more about your schedule in the coming months, both in the U.S. and Brazil.
Dughettu: My plan is to release “Taca Fogo” on November 21st with the related video clip, in addition to the album available for purchase on iTunes. We are also creating a series of shows with two blocks of 21 minutes in total. Today, shows must be short and striking, especially for new artists.
From December 2011 to March 2012 we will have a new song and video clip released always on the 21st of each month. In April 2012 I will perform shows in New York and Los Angeles. On May 21, 2012, I will officially release the album in Brazil and do a special tour which will include my hometown, Rio de Janeiro, for sure.
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