On November 18th 2022, Nagrelha one of Angola’s biggest Kuduro artists passed away. His death lead to an outpouring of tributes and a nation in grief.
For many of us new to Kuduro, the impact of his death and the importance he played in Kuduro culture became immediately visible. Many of the artists (dancers, musicians, djs etc) we follow began posting about his death. Expressing their sadness and sharing tributes and memories of Nagrelha. We saw tributes and memories shared from across the spectrum of Angolan urban music.
So who is Nagrelha and why is he an important figure in Kuduro culture ?
Nagrelha was part of the group Os Lambas who came to fame in the late 90s and early 2000s. He grew up in Sambizanga, Luanda, one of the largest ghettos of Luanda. His life in Sambizanga shaped his reality, and influenced his music. It was his transition from the street life of Sambizanga into a recording artist that captured the attention of the public and contributed to his rapid rise to fame. These types of life transitions were not common at the time and it inspired a whole new generation of artists and young people to believe that anything was possible. He became a reference point for success for many who believed success was never in their cards.
Nagrelha introduced a more aggressive style of Kuduro, that changed Kuduro from the electronic club music sound that dominated Kuduro in the late 80s and early 90s. His sound transformed Kuduro to a more urban sound. He can be credited for making Kuduro Underground the most popular form of Kuduro. Changing the trajectory of Kuduro, and making it a music for the marginalized communities of Luanda.
He was original in his approach to Kuduro music; introducing a new flow and way of singing Kuduro. He was known for his distinct voice, and beat instrumentals. His voice inspired many Kuduro artists who copied his tone. He was also very skilled at live stage performances which sometimes caused controversy for what he said or how he instructed his legions of fans to behave. His stage performances were always marked by his unique opening for his songs, and how he engaged the audience to participate and sing along. His videos and music captured and showed his reality and made him even more popular with the general population.
Nagrelha was also famous for his very public beefs with other artists. He was not shy to flex his command of Kuduro, and challenging other artists’ skills and creativity in the style. These public beefs kept him always in conversation among the people.
As a group, Os Lambas released several CDs over the years and as a solo artist Nagrelha released one album. His most popular songs in the Os Lambas group are: Comboio, O 4, Rebenta, Mama Di, and Provo E Gosto. As a solo artists his most popular songs are: Toque do Naná, Wamona ft Puto Prata and Dizumba.
Dance was always captured in Nagrelha’s videos. Kuduro underground and Kuduro Classico are the two styles most prominent in his videos. His beat instrumentals inspired people to dance, and he worked with many dancers. While during the Tony Amado and Sebem era Kuduro Underground was danced, it was Negrelha who captured Underground culture in its most raw state in the communities and in the streets, unfiltered. It was Nagrelha’s beats that also inspired and contributed to the evolution of Kuduro dance. During this time Kuduro underground dance rose rapidly, as did Kuduro Classico. The Underground dancers Turma do Aprumo, Puto Ngongo, Puto Fobado, and Bole Mama were official Nagrelha dancers, always bringing the energy of Underground dance to Nagrelha’s live performances. And as Kuduro music and dance became inseparable, he continued collaborating with other dancers such as Os Moikanos, Oceano, Sem Caminha, Leandro Rapidez and many others.
Do you have a memory of Nagrelha and how his music and style influenced you ? Please share in the comments
Some of Negrelha’s hit:
Provo E Gosto
Toque Do Nana