Hot Docs Review: I Love Kuduro
Music has a funny way of transcending cultural boundaries. Walk into any club and you will find bodies of all shapes, from various backgrounds, joyously dancing to the same infectious beat. It is this type of universal love for the power of music that is at the heart of Mário Patrocinio’s I Love Kuduro.
Patrocinio’s film focuses on the international rise of the Kuduro (which means ‘hard ass’) cultural movement. Spawned in the 1990s, out of the rave culture in downtown Luanda, Kuduro music is truly a melting pot of sounds. Taking traditional Angolan rhythms and mixing it with House and techno beats, just to name a few, Kuduro’s hyper party sound has help to put Angola on the map musically. As is the case with Hip Hop, Kuduro culture is more than just about the music. It is a culture that has also expanded to include dancing and fashion as well.
A source of inspiration and positivity for a generation of African youth, Kuduro has grown thanks in part to the numerous individuals who have helped the Kuduro movement flourish. I Love Kuduro touches on both the founders and “godfathers” of the sound, like Bruno de Castro, Sebém and Tony Amado, and current stars in the industry. Artists like Nagrelha who aim to produce “happy” music that uplifts and takes people’s minds off of Angola’s Civil War past. “Our families, our grandparents have suffered enough” he states when asked why he does not mention war in his songs.
Mobbed on the streets as local children chant his name, Nagrelha ascent feel more authentic than sensationalized version of the “rise from the ghetto” fame that is often found in Hip Hop culture. The same can be said for the way Kuduro culture approaches making music. The artists own “if I thought of it, then it must is going to be good” mentality couple with the cultures anything goes creativity makes I Love Kuduro a treat to watch. Nobody embraces this philosophy more energetically than the hysterical animal loving duo of Prince Black Gold and President Gasoline. Television show hosts and musicians, they provide the film with some of its most entertaining moments. Whether using a revving motorcycle as musical inspiration or breaking out into impromptu dances sessions with kids on the street, the pair perfectly capture the crazy energy of Kuduro.
As infectious as the personalities, the film it is overstuffed with talent. Bursting at the seams with artists, dancers and fashion designers, I Love Kuduro has an embarrassing wealth of riches. So it is a little surprising that Patrocinio did not select three or four individuals to shape his narrative around. By dividing up the time equally amongst the numerous artists, Partroncinio gives the audience a nice sample of the buffet, but never lets us truly savor any one dish.
This is most evident in the moment when the artists open up about their past hardships and future aspirations. Francis Boy takes an introspective look at his fear of death by comparing it to being a sketch that is erased. Titica, a transvestite who is easily the most fascinating character of the bunch, briefly touches on the struggle of growing up gay in Angola. Though these instances provide a glimpse into the human side behind the “performer”, they are few and far between.
Fortunately, there are more than enough lively personalities to overshadow I Love Kuduro’s shortcomings in the depth department. Like a lengthy mixtape, Patrocinio’s film provides a decent introduction to the various sounds and sights within Kuduro culture. Regardless of your personal music taste, I Love Kuduro is a film that will have you grooving in your seats.
Friday, May 2, 2:00 PM, Scotiabank Theatre