Words by Duncan Harrison
To accompany the release of this landmark 23-track compilation, Príncipe shared an excerpt from a 1973 interview with Cape Verdean political thinker and activist Amílcar Cabral. “As to strategy,” said the anti-colonial radical just months before his assassination, “we learned in the struggle; some people think that we adopted a foreign method, or something like this. But we bettered our struggle in the culture of our people… supported by our people which is the first and main condition: the support of the people.”
Cabral’s ideals of interdependent support and ground-up social change help to illustrate the Príncipe picture. For this, their debut compilation, founders of the scene like Marfox and Nervoso present work alongside newer figures like Safari and Dadifox. The tightly locked grooves, clipped Afrobeat syncopations and raw cut-and-paste sampling are all emblematic of “the Príncipe sound”, but the stylistic range on display here paints a more rounded picture – an ensemble cast of outsiders no longer defined by hallmark idiosyn- crasies, growing into their own ever-evolving method and dismantling influences to form a culture which is theirs.
Take the minimal stutterings of K30’s Hora do FL, the heavy tarraxinha shuffle of Babaz Fox and DJ Bebedera’s collaboration, the typically euphoric clomp of Marfox’s Swaramgami – there is a diversity on show which represents an evolution in the ethos and a broadening of the Príncipe palette. It’s calmer at times, and the sequencing plays out in a way which makes the upper limits of the sound far less jarring than it can sometimes be. Essentially though, the widening of the sound’s radius with such a continually high quality is a reflection of their main condition – the support and representation of the people.