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Cidade Verde Sounds
‘CVS’ takes On the Drug War in Brazil with a Mic!
Written By: Clarissa Krieck
Cidade Verde Sounds (CVS) was formed in 2008 by Adonai (vocals) and Dub Mastor (DJ/beatmaker), blending reggae, electronic, and hip-hop beats with transformative lyrics and a true Irie spirit. The duo is about to release a fourth record this year and is wrapping up their tour for iconic record ‘O Jogo’ (The Game), released in 2015.
It’s no secret that Reggae music speaks from the heart: specifically of the struggles of the underserved, the politically oppressed, and the socially disfranchised. But there are those rare times in history when reggae music can be a tool for real political change – just like Bob Marley envisioned.
Cidade Verde Sounds’ ‘O Jogo’ is not a new album (2015) but one that propelled the band to new heights. It set the tone for the legitimate cannabis liberation movement Brazil experiences today. For Latin America, it is not just the ideal of freeing cannabis per se, but ridding the streets of the organized crime, violence, and corruption at the highest levels of government that has corroded the hearts and minds of people for decades. Have you watched ‘Narco’? That’s the complexity and convoluted nature of Brazil’s movement.
The whole album is a call to action to end prohibition. But it does not sound pretentious, incisive, or hopeless. To the contrary: It calls on core Rasta values like one love, a deep trust in Jah, and the pursuit of social justice. ‘Da Minha Vida’ has an upbeat melody and lyrics that speak of self-empowerment amidst widespread corruption. “My self-esteem keeps on growing. My dreadlocks keep on growing. (…) Corruption at the Capitol keeps on growing. But your truth depends only on you”. This sends a strong message that reggae can empower people to seek real political change; and that a microphone can be the weapon of choice.
The self-titled first track is a mellow tune with inspirational lyrics like “The game is my mission, reggae music gave me the confidence”. With a mic and a vision in hand, CVS built a counter-culture while putting out a message of strength and light where injustice runs rampant. “Rebelde na Esquina” speaks of a rebel youth sitting at a corner contemplating life: “But the Game is not an easy one to win”, say the lyrics. Living Irie in a corrupt system is indeed like playing a game of chess with crooked rules.
“Dancehall Style” resets the more serious vibes and turns them into an anthem of happiness that will make one dance no matter what the mood is! “If you are a snitch, and like to gossip, go ahead and call 911 to tell on me.” It’s still a defiant message that touches the heart of every grower who lives in paranoia and fear to go to jail for cultivating even just one plant.
‘É Proibido’ (Forbidden), a cover song for an anti-prohibition anthem by Raul Seixas from the 70s, is a soft-
spoken melody that screams activism: “Smoking is forbidden, it’s what the sign reads. Legalize now, it’s time to re-evaluate!” The voices of this new generation of youth is loud and clear: it is time for law reform!
Adoni and Dubmaster have roots in the city, in the concrete jungle. Coincidence or not, their hometown is nicknamed “Cidade Verde”, or Green City. And millions of Brazilian youth in the urban centers are keen to the green revolution at play domestically, and abroad. “Real Ragga Muffin” has clear hip-hop and electronic undertones. “A conscious revolution, my music is like poison to the system.” It’s like the reggae Gods shared with the band prophetic words of a movement that was yet to bloom at that time.
“Red Eyes” is a beautiful acoustic ballad that fills the heart with hope and ease. “My eyes get red, red, red, my eyes get red like fire. My eyes are heavy, but I am always alert. (…) I talk to God, I look toward Zion, I focus on the Good, so that Evil won’t prevail, I feel the love in my heart, the force that brings me all my inspiration, I ask for peace and protection, (…) to rid myself of all my ambition, to guide me in all directions.”
Growing cannabis in Brasil is still a very serious crime that leads to incarceration, but mostly (66%) for people of color. Importation of medicine was approved, but is only viable and accessible to the wealthy. As big marijuana moves quickly to engulf markets and sell synthetics and plant-based medicine, Brazilians can look thru the lenses of this album today to ensure that citizens have the right to grow at home moving forward. But first they need to win the game against the Gods of Narco.
Clarissa Krieck is a cannabis cancer patient, activist and industry professional. She lives in Denver, Colorado and travels often to her homeland Brazil to support the local movement.