In 2019, two of Portugal’s most important rappers came together to create Classe Crua - Sam The Kid and Beware Jack. For them, hip-hop is an unbasterdised thing. It’s pure expression, not a gimmick. Through this duet, of which has seen two albums released already, we can understand the world and history of Portugal’s hip-hop and rap scene.
Lisbon has many hotspots for hip-hop and the two most prominent are represented here. There’s Sam The Kid from Chelas - an iconic neighbourhood that featured in Zona J, a Portuguese City of God, and there’s Beware Jack representing Odivelas.
At the core of hip-hop is the truth and the core of the truth comes from words. It is, after all, how each generation understands those before themselves and lays the blueprint for what is still to come. This concept of the word, as both bandage and bazooka, drew the two artists together - one famed for the old-school, one the enfant terrible of Portugal’s new school.
Their work together represents birth and rebirth. With their debut release in 2019, it was building on the previous year when Sam The Kid dropped his first solo track in a decade - ‘Sendo Assim’. What represented a phoenix rising from the ashes, a new drive within the iconic producer has carried into this project, where the two are paying homage to their roots and their art, whilst challenging each other to make something fresh - breaking from their usual modus operandi.
Two flows coming together can go one of two ways. It’s rarely something average. The distinct voices of two prominent rappers either emboldens the other, or quietens both. In their self-titled debut, they hark back to a sound more familiar with dates ending in 90 or 00. On production duties, Sam The Kid makes buttery smooth, yet equally raw rhythms for Beware Jack’s bars.
As you’d expect from figures revered for their perfectionism and attention to detail, the eponymous record is perfectly curated, to be experienced in the order of its release. With this in mind, Classe Crua have also chosen to play the record in full, in that order, when performing live. At Festival Iminente in 2019, the pair treated fans to a live version of the record in its entirety.
There’s something definitive about the album and the group’s outlook. It’s grown up. Music made by men who have families, yet wish to remain with one foot in the past they reminisce of so fondly. It’s a feeling as much as a particular beat or lyric, a feeling that, for many who have listened, they’ll never forget.
Listen to more of them here on Spotify.
Video by @expandingroots.
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