Sergio Mendes is one of the biggest names of Brazilian music — huge back in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, with hits like “Mas Que Nada.” Legends like him never entirely fade from the musical scene, as they are admired and emulated by those who come in following generations. One of Sergio’s admirers is will.i.am, of the Black Eyed Peas, who is quickly becoming a legend in his own right. Now, these two mutual admirers are coming together in Timeless.
It’s an eclectic mix of sounds and collaborators — including Erykah Badu, Justin Timberlake, Q-Tip, Stevie Wonder, and of course, the Black Eyed Peas.
Brazilian samba and North American hip-hop seem meant for each other. It’s not a new combination, since there has been so much recent success for Latin influenced hip-hop groups in the states. They share qualities of rhythm, a dance-ability and a sense of purpose and drive that make them blend better than music from four decades apart might.
“Let Me” captures the easy groove of bossa nova, and the light jazzy swing of both the melody and lyrics have a feel of relaxation about them; combined with the voice of Jill Scott, the warmth spreads further. At the other end of the spectrum, “Fo’-Hop” is much more intensely rhythmic, both in the beats and in the vocals by Guinga and Marcelo D2.
“Mas Que Nada” is by far my favorite — probably because the source material is so immediately recognizable and dear. This release marks the 40th anniversary of Sergio’s initial release, which was the first Latin-crossover hit. The new hip-hop elements just bring it to a new generation, but make the chorus no less catchy. For fans of Sergio’s, this album will be a reinvention of some of their favorites, and for those unfamiliar, just a well produced Latin hip-hop album — enjoyable either way.
Timeless is a big thing to reach for — music with no boundaries on popularity. No music is actually without time — each generation has had music that suits it, that was popular then. But as long as it keeps coming back, keeps being updated for a new time and place, continues to be reinvented by talented artists of new generations, it will be forever with us. It will become truly Timeless.
Read more about this CD, others, and my musical musings at “I Dig Music…”