One of the best-known (and most accessible) Brazilian hip-hop artists, Gabriel O Pensador employs creative, melodic mixes with clever, playful lyrics. Here's a quick look at his work.
Gabriel O Pensador "Gabriel O Pensador" (Sony-Chaos, 1993)
(Produced by Fabio Fonseca)
Innovative, easily accessible hip-hop/samba-funk, with an oddball, neo-tropicalist twist. The album opens on a thunderous note, with "Abalando," a super-funky dancefloor bootyshaker that samples a classic Chico Buarque song... From there things go sorta sideways, with a few too many "kooky," spaced-out, digressive songs, including "To Feliz (Matei O Presidente)," a song that got the album banned back in '93 because of its political content... Gabriel briefly gets back on track with the slinky Superfly soul groove of "Lavagem Cerebral," and the forro-tinged "...E Voce" is also interesting, although mostly in an academic way. A lot of this album struck me as too static or self-indulgent, though... It's certainly worth checking out, and folks who are more into hip-hop and lyrical wordplay (as opposed to compositional strength) might find this pretty frickin' cool... Creative, but not necessarily captivating.
Gabriel O Pensador "Quebra-Cabeca" (Mercury, 1997)
Poppy hip-hop from "Gabriel the Philosopher," one of the more popular mainstream rappers in Brazil these days. Mostly pretty silly, but pleasant. Gabriel ain't got the flow of a Wu-Tang Clanner -- but then again, is that so bad? The campy highlight is his "Rapper's Delight" sample, on "Cachimbo de Paz" ("Peace Pipe"), which is also probably the best track on here.
Gabriel O Pensador "Seja Voce Mesmo..." (Mercury, 2002)
(Produced by Liminha, Chico Neves & Itaal Shur)
Fast paced and glossily produced (by Liminha and Chico Neves), this album is at once less subtle and more accomplished than his earlier work. The rapping is more forceful, but also less identifiably hop-hoppish, and the predominance of jagged funk-rock guitar riffs make this very much a Brazilian stab at a Red Hot Chili Peppers/Rage Against The Machine-style album. Highlights include the slightly psychedelicized, electronica-tinged "Ah!" and the funky, dancey "Masturbacao Mental." On the whole, this is a bit too aggro for my tastes -- I don't listen to this kind of music in English, either -- but as a modern BRock album, it's pretty darn good. Worth checking out.
Gabriel O Pensador "Ainda E So O Comeco" (Sony-Columbia, 2002)
(Produced by Fabio Fonseca)
Another creative, multi-layered hip-hop album, with clever samples and a sense of playfulness that comes through loud and clear. I'm all not that into hip-hop anymore, but this is more accessible and more interesting than a lot of stuff from the last decade or two. At least he's not all deathly serious about everything.
Gabriel O Pensador "Nadegas A Declarar" (Sony-Columbia, 2002)
Gabriel O Pensador "MTV Ao Vivo" (2003)
Gabriel O Pensador "Cavaleiro Andante" (Sony/BMG-Epic, 2005)
Gabriel O Pensador "As Melhores" (Sony, 1999)
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