Words by Rafael Lubner
Nídia (f.k.a. Nidia Minaj) occupies a position of liminality on her new album, Nídia é Má, Nídia é Fudida. She is everywhere and nowhere, an animating presence and a ghostly remnant. She conjures tracks from the ether, works them into off-kilter shapes, and rests them obliquely against the kuduro continuum, where they can fizz and pound of their own accord. On this, her first full-length for Príncipe, Nídia positions herself as a sonic bricoleur, soldering her tracks together from the discarded parts of other genres, textures, and rhythms. It’s a beguiling construction, a mapping of a sonic constellation in real-time: upbeat house keys running alongside modular synth figures and trance stabs, moments of quiet reflection twinned with giddy percussion; all churned together to form a playful, gritty funk.
The album begins in heraldic mode, with the baile funk flex of “Mulher Profissional.” Plosive chats, deep bass, and chopped brass swim together spaciously, smoothly twisting the listener into the album’s grooves. A minimalist approach to composition predominates, as a select few elements are arranged and rearranged in complex patterns, equally strange and intuitive. These tracks share an immanent sonic absence, a calm center around which Nídia’s ghostly fingers move. This movement can be wispy and placid, as on “Underground,” which stutters with the urgency of a grime edit, or, as on “Puro Tarraxo,” it can slur and sway, using queasy, discontinuous elements — buoyant textures, odd MIDI trumpets, ricocheting voices — to construct a music that splits the difference between Foodman’s off-piste footwork and DJ Nigga Fox’s seasick jams.
There’s a tumbling, fractal fluidity to Nídia é Má, Nídia é Fudida, a sense that we’re witnessing a deconstruction of the album’s sonic materials. It’s the sonic equivalent of that scene in The Lego Movie where they build and rebuild their vehicle as they’re driving it. Consequently, these tracks move at speed, rarely outstaying their welcome. Like DJ Nervoso’s tracks, they burst into being with a flourish, animated by a manic energy, grabbing the listener’s attention, before powering down in anticipation of the next volley of sound. “É da Banda” is a case in point, a riotous procession of stop-start percussion that gathers momentum and force with the addition of rolling toms, disembodied laughs (not quite human and not quite animal), and a dull, whipping sound that shoots through the track. There’s a real finesse to the way Nídia balances the pummeling impact of her drums with the subtlety of her textural and generic work. Her music is never overpowering, even at its most calorific. Rather, it steers the listener along, gently irradiating them with its steely grin, glinting eye, and nomadic footwork. These are tracks founded on a sense of jollity, a gradual unfolding of sound and rhythm, on a microphysics of movement, of small, repeated gestures, held close to the body, given out with thought and care.
“I Miss My Ghetto” might be the album’s paradigmatic track. Taking the remnants of a piano house track and splaying the keys melancholically over skittering found-sound percussion, it juxtaposes absence and presence, momentum and stasis. The track speaks to Nídia’s dislocation from the Lisbon where she grew up, and is happy to dwell in this homesickness, in its liminal position — neither in nor out. It refuses concretization for the play of disconnection, drifting along, carrying its feelings on its back, a perfect concoction of happysadness. This is generous music, tactile and febrile. It carries its creator’s traces — her joys, her sorrows, the sounds that make her dance — and happily gives them over to the listener, so that they may create their own mesh of associations, find their own moments of uplift and stillness within its dislocations. A viral transfer of bricolage; music for swaying bodies and grinning faces.