RealWorld 2003
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For something hip, fresh and different from Brazil, turn to Daúde's fourth album and debut on RealWorld. It follows up 1999's Simbora of dance remixes from her two prior albums with a production by Britain's Will Mowat who's well- respected for his work with Soul II Soul. Neguinha te amo turns in a cosmopolitan 'clubby' Pop-Roots disc with fetching grooves, bubbling loops and Daúde's vocals that borrow from Jazz scatting, doowop, soul and funk as well as samba and Afro-Brazilian styles and, in their edgy swaggering energy, recall those of Parisian expatriate Angélique Kidjo from Benin.

Rather than abandon her African roots of Salvador/Bahia -- and her parallel childhood exposure to her mother's favorites like Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Maria Bethania and Chico Buarque -- while escaping into the kind of Brazilian-flavored HipHop and Techno we find on the 6degrees label, Daúde has taken these contemporary influences and brought them back to Rio. The title here is a Português term of endearment for a little black girl, neguinha, hence "Little Black Girl, I love You". It's both a statement of self-affirmation (Daúde is a black woman) and an homage to the mix of races represented in Brazil.

Her self-titled 1995 debut won a Brazilian Grammy for best new artist and is remembered as one of the first to fuse MPB

-- popular Brazilian music -- with electronic elements. For Neguinha Te Amo, her push/pull reliance on Will Mowat for broader appeal outside Brazil was fully intentional. As Daúde explains, she wanted to "go beyond the established cliches, beyond the tropical stereotype". This mission statement caused Mowat's clever deconstruction of certain familiar tunes like "Ile Aye" and "Canto de Ossanha" to turn them upside down and thus give them a keen urban makeover, at times even adopting the French language.

For those tired of predictable musical caricatures on Brazil; for those samba'd out to the hilt and ready for something cooler and groovier - Daúde's latest might just be the antidote to tip the scales back. It presents a new look while the lyrics -- lovingly translated to English in the liner notes -- speak candidly and with humor about romantic, social and class issues:

"A street-wise carioca who, in typical malandro style, lusts after his cousin's wife Dora but attempts to deny it, twisting and turning facts on their head... wearing his crooked heart on his sleeve, he complains that he's suffering, but it's for something he shouldn't be having in the first place!"

Having studied literature endows Daúde with finely-honed intellectual instincts to compliment her musical vision with literary ambitions. Consider these lines in closing:

"I'm going to tell you a love story that could be yours, could be ours... one day a neguinha passed this way. She flirted with me a bit and said she liked my shyness. This left me a bit at a loss, but she said that it was natural, that these things happen all the time. I, who haven't even had a little relationship, confessed to feeling rather embarrassed and said to her: "But I don't like that terrible hair of yours". To which she replied: "You'll need to go a bit deeper than that if you want to get to know me."

More recently, the same neguinha came by again, only this time it was my turn to flirt, and I told her I liked her frizzy messy hair. She answered: "I don't buy that! Passion doesn't happen just because you like someone's hair. You need to really be interested in that person - so drop your prejudice!"

Good advice all around - about that, digging deeper and listening to Neguinha in the first place...