As I nurse a McDonald’s milkshake at JFK airport and think back over my last week in Brazil, I find it difficult to properly put into words what Rio de Janeiro meant for me. Sure, I can list the places I went, the food I ate, the things I saw. But a destination cannot be reduced to a few bullet points. And if there is any city that defies formal recording more than usual, it’s Rio. The city feels more alive than almost anywhere I’ve ever been. Bustling Asian metropolises and the masses crawling through the subway system beyond this airport have nothing on Rio; it is positivity humming with life in a vital, and alternatively vibrant and aggressive way. It might be the daily doses of acai berries speaking or the Ipanema sun stroke or the endorphin comedown after almost missing my flight in two hours of traffic, but I feel that there is something immutably explosive about Rio. And 24-year-old Lucas Lucco, from a few hours inland of Rio, gives that quality awesome expression on ‘Tranquilo e Favoravel’.
The first thing you notice about ‘Tranquilo’ is the same first thing you notice about Rio – contrast. The city is pockmarked by juxtaposition and the difference that underscores it – sometimes devastating, sometimes amazing – makes Rio a constantly intriguing place to be. Slums (or favelas) hug neighborhoods with Porsches and Mercedes in driveways. The people on the streets are some of the nicest I’ve come across while the country is in the grips of one of the biggest corruption scandals in political history. Even the March weather, the subject of a bossa nova song itself, is notoriously schizoid – hot and sunny at one moment and thundering and torrential the next. Marked by a fascination with living disparities, the city heaves with music but none is more telling of these rich contrasts than Lucco’s Carnaval hit.
Produced by a guy with dyed blonde hair, dashed eyebrows and working under the stage name MC Bin Laden, ‘Tranquilo’ was never going to be a normal song. What we get, though, is probably one of the more Frankensteinian efforts to breach the zeitgeist in any market. Flipping at first jarringly, eventually somehow fittingly, between real European-style folk sounds (guitars, accordions, familiar chords) and distinctly trap sounds recreated vocally by a droning Lucco, it shouldn’t work but does. The glue that keeps it all together is Lucco who oozes attitude (notwithstanding that I can’t make out what he is saying: from preliminary research he seems to be preoccupied with posturing and talking about cars) and maintains his cool even as Bin Laden brings ringtones and Major Lazer-esque dancehall to the beat. The result is one of the strangest and most fun songs I’ve heard in some time – so Rio.
Lucas Lucco – Tranquilo e Favoravel Ft. MC Bin Laden [Video for full effect]