February 2009

A Filial - $1,99
Verge Records (no catalog number)
Format: CD
Released: 2008

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ***
Recording Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ***

A Filial blends hefty Brazilian beats with old-school-inspired hip-hop for a modern, slick mix that is bound to perk some ears. The group's first US release, $1,99, is balanced and genuinely musical, featuring horn arrangements, seven-string-guitar leads and a deep, rowdy bass line laying the ground for bilingual rapping about globally significant issues like poverty and world hunger. This is authentic hip-hop minus the over-reliance on samples and superficial homage to material bling.

The five-piece group established a camaraderie in their days of Rio de Janeiro youth as mutual skateboard-loving, hip-hop-lauding disciples. The name A Filial aptly translates as "the offspring," with the music being a hybrid of North and South American musical and cultural styles, birthed in both English and Portuguese. Tribal beats clang out a highly danceable jungle rhythm on the track "Brown Sueter." "Calma Pedro" is lyrically reminiscent of both Roots Manuva and Charlie 2na, but it sounds fresh and distinctly Brazilian paired over a maracatu rhythm. A samba song, "Maluisa," softens the edge, along with tropicallia and bossa nova samples peppered throughout the disc.

Fans of hip-hop's early days will likely appreciate A Filial's sound: one that is at once old and new. familiar and foreign, respecting the past while carving out the future.