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No Na Orelha


Criolo's Nó Na Orelha (trans. "Knot in the Ear") is one of the most lauded Brazilian albums in years. The Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone named it "Album of the Year" and chose the track "Não Existe o Amor em SP" (trans. "Love Doesn't Exist in São Paulo") as "Song of the Year." This year Criolo won MTV Brasil's award for "Best Album," "Best Song" and "Best New Artist." At the televised award ceremony the great Caetano Veloso, declared Criolo "possibly the most important figure on the Brazilian pop scene," and joined the younger man for a heartfelt duet. The "Best New Artist" recognition was a bit late in coming. Criolo was 36 when he received it, and he'd been performing in the favelas and inner city of São Paulo for over 20 years. He'd been writing rhymes and songs for even longer. Having grown up in a mud-floored shack on the rough outskirts of this ultramodern megacity of 11 million inhabitants, Criolo (whose given name is Kieber Gomes) had found in music -- especially hip-hop -- the means both to express his rage at the poverty and crime around him and to rise from his disadvantaged origins. He became a leader of São Paulo's hip-hop underground and co-founder of a cultural center that drew DJs, MCs and fans from all over the city to its weekly freestyle rap throw-downs. In 2006, he released his debut album, but Nó Na Orelha is definitely his breakthrough achievement, thrusting him, seemingly overnight, from the underground to national stardom and now international attention. He's come a long way from his musical base, too. The styles displayed on Nó Na Orelha range from hip-hop to samba, Tropicalia, reggae, Afrobeat and electronic dance music, and Criolo proves himself to be an affecting singer as well as a skilled rapper. His subjects are also varied, and his poetic take on them reveal an incisive intelligence.