Infectious like a pandemic, music follows the path of least resistance, oblivious to national or natural borders: tds bem Global = all too Global. dadá Joãozinho’s debut solo album careens across musical universes like a psychedelic fever-dream in 13 distinct, yet porous movements shoplifting from dub reggae, hip hop, punk, and samba, while inventing a few future styles in the process.
João Rocha moved from Niterói (the city across the bay from Rio de Janeiro) to São Paulo in 2020 with his bandmates from ROSABEGE, the artistic collective he formed with a few hometown friends in 2017. With promotion plans paralyzed by the pandemic, he looked inward, retreating into his alter ego dadá Joãzinho, the “dadá” an homage to a special creature and “zinho” meaning “little.” This provocative persona allowed Rocha to “be open to possibilities, other ways of singing, other sources of courage.”
Moving to the biggest city in South America at the age of 23 during a phase of intense isolation and toxic politics, dadá lost interest in the beautiful and naive Zona Sul (Rio’s southern neighborhood’s famous for inventing the bossa nova) influences channeled by his earlier group ROSABEGE. His new music “needed to feel more intense,” in contrast to the lighter sounds from previous releases. The “Brazilian Utopia” of seventies Música Popular Brasileira “didn’t make sense anymore.” This project needed to reflect the darkness. Bad Brains and Bob Marley at Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio kinda dark, Gilberto Gil and Jards Macalé exiled in rainy London during Brazil’s oppressive military dictatorship dark.
Resisting the darkness, dadá yearned to feel alive, for music that stimulated his body to “move differently.” Playing nearly all the instruments: electric and acoustic guitar, organ, electronic production, drum programming and “other things,” tds bem Global is definitely a solo album, but he made it inspired by and in collaboration with countless musical friends. “I wanted to get people together around the music.”
Unfolding like a genre-agnostic mixtape, the album is front-loaded with irresistible and effortless rhythms, funky, off-kilter and jagged like “Ô Lulu” which rides a dubby acoustic groove peppered by organ stabs, hand drums and glancing guitar ballistics, like if Arthur Russell and Lee Perry co-owned a recording studio.
“Cuidado! (feat. Alceu, Bebé)” introduces dadá’s hip hop chops as the analog synth and drum machine track weaves like a commuter in São Paulo during rush hour - catching every green light, sidestepping sidewalk potholes with a glide in their stride. Hip hop, latin and baile funk flavors jockey like illegal drag racers across the city streets.
Layered with stacked vocals, imposing horn stabs, organic and inorganic beats “VEJA (feat. JOCA)” would be heartbreaking if it weren’t so powerful, like Milton Nascimento in the zone. Dadá chases the darkness into the psychedelic dungeon of “Minha Droga,” a synopated mantra that disintegrates as it unspools.
Spent from the emotionally exhausting four-song sprint that starts the album, “Outro Momento,” is a reverb-laden reprieve from the rhythm nation, sounding like a lost Money Mark bossa nova ditty. “Pai e Mae” is the most obviously Brazilian song on the album, a sweet experimental samba worthy of Tom Zé.
“Desire for freedom was the north star of this record,” dadá insists. He explains that he needed to “feel free about artistic decisions - that I didn’t have to play the instruments in a certain way to sound good, I didn’t have to sing in a certain way to sound good, and I didn’t have to write in a certain way to make sense and reach people’s feelings.”
Birthed amidst a vibrant artistic community fragmented and dislocated through the pandemic, tds bem Global is a message in the bottle blasting from a street-party sub-woofer encouraging others to make their art. “This is just for inspiration as I hear my friends are inspired by it, inspired to take their own paths and take risks on their music or art. This is what I wanted.”