Music

Jackson Conti: Sujinho

Madlib loves Brazilian music. Will you love his renditions as much as he does?


Jackson Conti

Sujinho

Label: Mochilla
US Release Date: 2007-06-19
UK Release Date: 2007-05-26
Amazon
iTunes

The liner notes to Jackson Conti's Sujinho introduce the album with a simple but intriguing declarative: "Madlib loves Brasilian music."

First things first. The "Jackson" in "Jackson Conti" is Otis Jackson, Jr., known in music circles as Madlib. Yep, the same "Madlib" who, according to the liner notes, loves Brasilian music. The same Madlib who is quite possibly one of, if not the, hardest working hip-hop artists today. Even if you don't know his name, chances are good you've been exposed to Madlib's skills on the production tip. Madlib has been the man behind the boards for artists such as Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Ghostface Killah, De La Soul, Percee P., and Mos Def.

His own discography rolls deep, spanning an array of genres, themes, and altar egos. Madlib cranks out music at an obsessive pace, causing some to wonder if he needs his considerable passion and inspiration tempered by healthy doses of editing. His projects include, but are not limited to: The Unseen and The Further Adventures of Lord Quas, under his helium-voiced Quasimoto alias; Madvillainy, a collaboration with MF Doom; Liberation, a collaboration with Talib Kweli; Jaylib, with the late great J. Dilla; albums by Yesterday's New Quintet, Madlib's jazz ensemble; and his "beat tapes" from his Beat Konducta series.

In particular, The Beat Konducta, Volumes 3-4: In India contained action-packed Bollywood-themed nuggets of crate digging goodness. I probably liked this installment of The Beat Konducta series more than most, but the overall point remains unchallenged -- the point being that, yeah, Madlib "loves Brasilian music" but the man has a passion for music of all sorts. To borrow from the liner notes again, Madlib "is an artist who gives one new ears every couple of years if you choose to pay close enough attention." His is a journey through the dimensions of sound, and his passion for the journey helps to explain why many of his compositions seem to have little regard for silence. Madlib's work is often busy, intricate, and multi-layered.

Did someone say "multi-layered" and "Brasilian music"? Well, that's where the "Conti" in "Jackson Conti" enters the picture. Ivan "Mamao" Conti, the drummer for the influential Brazilian band Azymuth, lends his rhythmic chops to the "Jackson Conti" project. His off-center rhythms are distinctive to the Azymuth sound, which might be described as an easy listening, spastic samba. Keep in mind, however, that "easy listening" isn't meant to have the negative connotations here that it has in some circles. Say "easy listening" to some people and the assumption is that you're talking about music made to cure insomnia. Azymuth's samba doido, or "crazy samba", is nothing of the sort. Relaxing? Sure it is, but it's far from boring.

Transferring that sound to Sujinho's mixture of covers and original compositions doesn't create some earth-shattering cocktail of hip-hop, Brazilian music, and smooth jazz. It might be nice if it did -- groundbreaking even -- but it doesn't. Actually, I don't get the feeling "Jackson Conti" was concocted for that task. Don't go into this listening experience expecting to find a simple attempt to meld hip-hop and jazz. Instead, expect to hear two men setting out to prove not only that Madlib "loves Brasilian music" but also that, by the end of Sujinho's 73 minutes, you'll love it too.

What's not to love? Part of the joy of Sujinho is its smart sequencing, opening with 32 seconds of Mamao's percussive discourse in "Mamaoism". Akin to the introductory skit of a hip-hop release, "Mamaoism" sets forth a musical philosophy, calibrating the listener's ears to Ivan Conti's cadence. Later in the album, "Tijuca Man", a Conti composition, reinforces the importance of rhythm as the collection's musical heartbeat. Since the Mamaoist rhythm acts as the album's core, the sequencing provides a variety of tempo changes, some welcome, and others quite jarring. One composition, "Papaia" threatens to weigh the project down with its bulky 10 minutes of music, but a tempo and instrumental change around the six-minute-and-30-second mark helps to keep things fresh.

After the opening, the journey moves forward, through quick studies like the stutter-stepping "Barumba" and its near-atonal piano, and then careening through festive numbers such as the horn-infused George Duke piece "Brasilian Sugar", Moreira's "Xibaba", and Dom Um Romao's "Waiting on the Corner". Each piece conjures a distinct mood, as in the mysterious snake charming vibe of "Praca da Republica". Likewise, "Sao Paula Nights" offers an undulating soundscape that sounds a lot like a carefully composed background of cicadas. In "Sao Paula Nights", there is a sense that nighttime reveals the tranquility that resides beneath our daily hustle and bustle. The journey ends with the energetically paced "Segura esta Onda", a Jackson Conti original described in the album notes as a tribute to Azymuth. That track gets really funky and spaced-out around the four-minute-and-35-second mark before merging back into its relaxed groove a little after the fifth minute. It's a short stretch but it's a trip nonetheless.

The biggest nitpick with Sujinho? Well, some songs, through their repetition and consistency, make the album sound like a collection of background music rather than fully realized works. Some tracks, like the aforementioned "Barumba", are simply too good to be so easily cast aside. There are also, among other touches, flourishes of horns, delightful patches of xylophone, and surprising bits of accordion, all of which help to move the music to the foreground. Maybe some of the cowbell could have been avoided, but that's a minor league complaint.

No, the problem is that there are too many stretches that allow the listener's mind to wander and drift away from the main event. Not that there's anything wrong with "background music". In fact, I defeated many a pixilated videogame foe with Sujinho playing behind me. It's like I can't be stopped with "Berimbau", "Casa Forte", and "Amazon Stroll" as my themes. But Sujinho isn't the type of album that dominates the mood. Once you've heard it, it's an album you'll reach for to satisfy a craving for its particular sound.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.