Photo by Emmanuel BernanrdDaúde
Neguinha Te Amo

Daúde tames all the rhythms of Brazil into a coherent album on Neguinha te Amo (Black Girl, I Love You), and still injects radical politics not seen in Brazilian pop music since the zenith of tropicália in the late '60s. The singer's third album sambas sensuously on the fine line between racial pride and overt prejudice with songs Beat-like in their abstract celebration of the Afro-Brazilian female. Such a focus might not seem particularly breathtaking in this Andre 3000 country, but to laud black beauty is verboten in Brazil, a nation that pretends race is irrelevant while conveniently overlooking its dark-hued citizens languishing in the favelas. So while lyrics such as “White boy, if you knew the true value of what it is to be black/You'd bathe in tar to become black as well” (on “Ilê Ayê”) sound like a Nation of Islam sermon scored to infectious xylophones, Daúde means it in the most empowering, non-racist of ways—besides, the way she wistfully coos the phrase in her melodious Brazilian Portuguese makes it as powerful a declaration of love as you'll hear. More important, though, the racial politics of Neguinha te Amo is rhetorical dressing for the actual music, an ever-jiggling euphony of Brazilian instruments of every hoot and echo romping around electric organs, guitars and an icy-cool drum machine scaffold. Daúde also borrows wonderfully from African-American neo-soul, especially on the dreamy, sexy “Sans Dire Adieu.” Neguinha te Amo is black power at its most grooving.

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