Nostalgia, or the Value of the Show

The Brazilian rap group Racionais MCs has a new album out, Cores e Valores. Their teaser single to the album is called 'Quanto Vale o Show?''. Simultaneously translating as 'how much does the show cost?' and 'how much it is worth?', the album inadvertently answers those questions for itself. The answer: not much. 

Racionais is the Brazilian equivalent of Public Enemy, an iconic early rap group that first voiced the lives and concerns of young black Brazilians. Their long, poetic songs detailed life in the poor outskirts of Sao Paulo, telling wistful tales about police brutality and incarceration. For many paulistas, Racionias is the sound of their childhoods. 

Public Enemy both is and isn't a sufficient analogy - although Racionais are a group, their dominance of the scene is more Biggie and Tupac. In the 90's, they were Brazilian rap, and their gangster beats laid that basis for a national sound.

Racionais' new album tries to do what no other iconic rap group has done: resurrect 25 years later, and give new music to their fans. In the U.S., I suppose that hasn't happened in large part because it can't: Biggie and Tupac are dead. But even then, Public Enemy, N.W.A., Cypress Hill, and other folks have either given music a rest or have evolved into other things. 

Rap and hip hop have grown out to beautiful new places. While everyone in the States - particularly in LA and New York - are obsessed with 90's rap, new stuff that actually sounds old gets...old. Racionais' picked up the mic for the first time since the 90's without changing much of anything, sounding musically ossified. Nostalgia in and of itself isn't a sufficient reason to  make new music. Quanto vale esse show? Muito pouco. (Very little.)