A New Film About Capoeira Takes Us From Brazil To The Bronx

Kamal Robinson’s new movie is a bumpy but satisfying capoeira-filled cross-country adventure. Watch it online.

The poster for Kamal Robinson's FiGHT DANCE SiNG 2: Capoeira Across the Country
Baltimore-born filmmaker Kamal Robinson’s new movie is a bumpy but satisfying capoeira-filled cross-country adventure.

Originally released in 2012, FiGHT DANCE SiNG: a Capoeirista's story, follows New Yorker and capoeirista Junie Lachman as he struggles to overcome obstacles ranging from an unforeseen house guest to street violence. This month, Robinson is back with a sequel for the film.

Utilizing a “lost footage” filmmaking style, FiGHT DANCE SiNG 2: Capoeira Across the Country chronicles the story of Junie as he takes a road trip back to his home, the Bronx, from Los Angeles where he’s been living for the past three years, stopping to get some capoeira on along the way. Junie makes the journey using only google maps and his video camera. The film’s naturalistic style, acting, and documentary-like format is refreshing.

Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that is part dance and music, part acrobatics and part effective fighting style is heavily featured throughout the film. Created by West African slaves brought to Brazil, capoeira’s swift, complex, and powerful movements were aimed at being able to take on armed adversaries - the Portuguese capitães-do-mato, a mounted and heavily armed colonial police tasked with re-capturing runaway slaves. Capoeira became essential in their fight for freedom.

The beautiful martial art that is capoeira has since made its way the world over. Make sure to peep parts one and two of Robinson’s Fight Dance Sing films below.

The poster for Kamal Robinson's FiGHT DANCE SiNG: a Capoeirista's story

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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