Kuduro (or kuduru) is a type of music and dance originally developed in Angola in the 1980s. It is characterized as uptempo, energetic, and danceable. Kuduro began in Luanda, Angola in the late 1980s. Initially, producers sampled traditional carnival music like soca and zouk from the Caribbean, and also semba from Angola and laid this around a fast 4/4 beat.
The kuduro is a typical music style that emerges on the outskirts of a large city and is rejected by elites. It became the most popular music style from the mid-2000s in Angola. Since then, many artist from the periphery of Luanda have become very popular, such as kuduro's queen Titica, a transgender singer, Própria Lixa, Noite e Dia, Puto Português, Tuga Agressiva, Big Nelo and others.
The lyrics are usually in Portuguese, but it's very commom that the lyrics of the song also present words of native languages.
The roots of kuduro can be traced to the late 1980s when producers in Luanda, Angola started mixing African percussion samples with zouk and soca to create a style of music then known as Batida ("Beat"). European and American electronic music had begun appearing in the market, which attracted Angolan musicians and inspired them to incorporate their own musical styles. Young producers began adding heavy African percussion to both European and American beats. In Europe, western house and techno producers mixed it with house and techno.
The history of kuduro has come about in a time of Angolan civil unrest, and provided a means of coping with hardship and positivity for the younger generation. With the strong immigration to Portugal of Angolan citizens kuduro spread and evolved further in the neighborhoods of Lisbon, with the inclusion of additional musical elements from genres of Western European electronic music, giving origin to the progressive kuduro.
According to Tony Amado, self-proclaimed creator of Kuduro, he got the idea for the dance, after seeing Jean-Claude Van Damme in the 1989 film Kickboxer, in which he appears in a bar drunk, and dances in a hard and unusual style. As Vivian Host points out in her article, despite the common assumption that "world music" from non-Western countries holds no commonalities with Western modern music, Angolan kuduro does contain "elements in common with punk, deep tribal house, and even Daft Punk." And although Angolan kuduro reflects an understanding and an interpretation of Western musical forms, the world music category that it fits under, tends to reject the idea of Western musical imperialism. DJ Riot of Sistema said, "Kuduro was never world music… It wasn’t born on congas and bongos, as some traditional folk-music. It was kids making straight-up dance-music from, like, ’96. Playing this new music, this new African music, that feels straight-up political in itself."
Kuduristas use body movements that often emanate movement/stillness, incoordination, falling, pop & lock, and breakdancing. This style of dance seems to “break down” body parts into isolations and staccato movements, serving as a reflection of debility and the mixture of abled/disabled bodies in performance. Popular Angolan dancer Costuleta, whose leg has been amputated, is known for his captivating performances displaying dexterity and sexuality. The incorporation of debility complicates normative notions of “abled-ness” while recalling motifs of black survival throughout the diaspora, specifically in relation to the land mines planted by the Portuguese army that has left many Angolans amputated.
The name of the dance refers to a peculiar movement in which the dancers seem to have hard buttocks ("Cu Duro" in Angolan Portuguese), simulating an aggressive and agitated dance style.
Kuduro is very popular across former Portuguese overseas countries in Africa, as well as in the suburbs of Lisbon, Portugal (namely Amadora and Queluz), due to the large number of Angolan immigrants.
In the Lisbon variety (or progressive kuduro), which mixes kuduro with house and techno music, Buraka Som Sistema a Portuguese/Angolan electronic dance music project based in Portugal, was responsible for the internationalisation of kuduro, presenting the genre across Europe. It featured in several international music magazines, after their appearance with their hit "Yah!" ("Yeah!"). Buraka Som Sistema takes its name from Buraca, a Lisbon suburb in the municipality of Amadora. Since the explosion of the Buraka Som Sistema, kuduro dance performance videos find an increasing audience on internet video platforms like YouTube. The videos range in quality from MTV standard to barely recognizable mobile-phone footage.
I Love Kuduro (festival)
A travelling festival that has become known as one of the largest gatherings dedicated to the Kuduro genre and lifestyle. It was created by Angolan artist Coréon Dú in 2011 with premiere events in the Showcase Club in Paris followed Arena Club in Berlin under the name Kuduro Sessions.
It included Angolan legends such as Noite e Dia, Nacobeta, Bruno M, DJ Znobia, Big Nelo, the then up and coming transgender singer Titica, Francis Boy Os Namayer, DJ Djeff & DJ Sylivi, as well as with a slew of international guests / Kuduro supporters such as Louie Vega & Anané Vega, Ousunlade, Daniel Haaksman, John Digweed, Hernan Cattaneo, Trentemoller, Tiefshwarz, Diego Miranda, and Wretch 32, among others.
The first event of Love Kuduro in Luanda was two day festival that received over 14,000 Kuduro fans in January 2012 at the Luanda International Fair grounds. The even has happened annually in Luanda, with various events happening around the world in cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Rio de Janeiro, New York and Washington DC . Recent including a recent event at the 2014 TechnoParade in Paris, as the Os Kuduristas tour (a follow up to the Kuduro Sessions theme tour) which focused mainly on bringing the broader Luanda urban culture to Kuduro lovers around the world, with an emphasis on dance.
The most recent event was an I Love Kuduro pop up float at the 2014 TechnoParade in Paris.
I Love Kuduro (film)
The film "I Love Kuduro" directed by brothers Mário and Pedro Patrocínio premiered with great success at the International Film Festival of Rio de Janeiro, the largest film festival in Latin America, and at Portugal, in DocLisboa.
"I Love Kuduro" was shot in Angola and presents the origin of the kuduro phenomenon. The superstar of kuduro, Titica, is one the idols portrayed in this film.
Artists and famous titles
M.I.A. has supported kuduro music, working on the song "Sound of Kuduro" with Buraka Som Sistema in Angola. "It initially came from kids not having anything to make music on other than cellphones, using samples they'd get from their PCs and mobiles' sound buttons," M.I.A. said of kuduro. "It's a rave-y, beat oriented sound. Now that it's growing, they've got proper PCs to make music on."
- Titica Kuduro Dance Queen
- Point G
- Os Lambas: Comboio
- Costuleta - kuduro: xiriri, acuxar: tchiriri
- Puto Prata e Bruno M: Cara Podre
- Puto Português e Nacobeta: Baba Baba
- Buraka Som Sistema: Kalemba (Wegue Wegue) (feat. Pongolove)
- Buraka Som Sistema: (New Africa Remix) (feat. Zakee Kuduro)
- King Kuduro: Il faut danser, Le son qu'il te faut
- Papa London: Danza Kuduro
- Lucenzo feat. Big Ali: Vem Dançar Kuduro
- Luky Gomes: Twiasee, We Gonna Have it, Jenjena
- Sissi K ( Logobi GT ): Spoiling the Koin
- Antonio carglouche feat R'nestinho: C it KSE good
- Elizio: Sabi di mas
- G-nose and Nelinho feat Papi Sanchez: Pop Pop Kuduro
- Don Omar feat Lucenzo: Danza Kuduro
- William Epps: Kuduro
- Fofando & Saborosa
- Zakee Kuduro
- Os NAMAYER
- Coréon Dú: Kuduro Luvin
There’s sensual dancing, and then there’s kizomba. This Angolan dance form is mesmerizing to watch, and its unavoidable sensuality is helping it spread across the world.
Kizomba is both a dance and a style of music, which developed in Angola in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The dance derives strongly from zouk, which is a Caribbean Carnivalesque quick rhythm originating in the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, and which calls to mind reggaeton and Brazilian funk. Zouk drifted to Angola, where it mixed with traditional Angolan music and semba, the Angolan origin of Brazilian samba, resulting in kizomba. The word zouk means party or festival; if zouk is the party, kizomba is what’s going on in the back bedroom among the muffled beats of the party raging up front.
In fact, Jorge Elizondo, one of the first instructors to bring kizomba to these shores, told OZY: “It’s not meant to be performed. It’s not about tricks or turns. It’s about the one-to-one connection with your dance partner.”
As in so many sensually driven dances, the man’s leg spends much of the dance firmly lodged between the woman’s thighs; it’s the iconic move of kizomba. But don’t get it wrong: Kizomba is not a frantic, throw-me-around-the-dance-floor surge. Quite the opposite. Its sensuality resides in its steady simmer, never boiling over.
The dance is nearly exhausting to watch in its intensity: The woman leans into the man, resting all of her balance in his grip; he pulls her strongly, suddenly slowing as they near. Couples dancing kizomba look something like mating insects, tightly gripping each other, in a private world.
This can be problematic for newbies, and perhaps that’s why it hit first in Europe, where it’s been a craze among dancers for the past five years. Christian Gutierrez, owner of the Latin Dance Factory in Houston, where he teaches kizomba, has seen this firsthand. “Kizomba is a very close dance; there are no gaps between you and your partner. So not everyone likes it right away, because the culture here in the U.S. is different. Many people don’t want to get that close to someone you don’t know, so my challenge as an instructor is to help people feel comfortable enough to just give kizomba a try.”
Miami Beach hosted a kizomba festival this past summer; in March, San Francisco will host its own.
He says that sometimes it can be a challenge. “In the U.S., dancing that close with someone means you’ve got the green light. So, yeah, I’ve had to call out guys on taking it too far.”
Even just as a spectator of kizomba, you can understand the temptation. It is impossible to not find your eyes drawn to the woman, who dances in heels or on tiptoes for the duration of the dance (talk about a calf workout!). In particular, the eyes are drawn to her rear, which twitches with the staccato beats of the music, the only indicator of the quicker zouk rhythm of the music, and a stark contrast to the otherwise steady, slow embrace.
These days, the popularity of the dance is growing fast as it draws in outsiders with its sensuality paired with the catchiness of the music. In Lusophone countries in particular (kizomba music is usually sung in Portuguese), the dance has already firmly taken root. It’s now one of the featured dances on Portugal’s edition of Dancing With the Stars, and, along with kuduro, it has essentially taken the sexy dance baton from the lambada in Brazil. But language can’t confine this dance. Kizomba festivals cropped up this summer all over Europe, and it’s finally headed west. Miami Beach hosted a kizomba festival this past summer; in March, San Francisco will host its own.
Want to get ready for the kizomba wave to hit the U.S.? Sign up for dance lessons at your local Latin dance center or African cultural center, and get some pointers online. To help you keep current with the music, here’s the hot kizomba song that kept folks swaying this summer in Luanda and won this year’s Angolan Music Award for best kizomba.
This OZY encore was originally published Sept. 22, 2014.