Hear Nigga Fox's Mind-Bending Mix of Kuduro, Batida, and Afro-House

Angolan producer whips up 33 minutes of delirium-inducing drum programming for Lisbon's Principe label

Flyer for Noite Principe at Lisbon's Musicbox
Flyer for Noite Principe at Lisbon's Musicbox
Philip Sherburne WRITTEN BY
Philip Sherburne

Are you sitting down? You'd better be when you listen to "Meu Estilo," a 33-minute DJ mix from the Angolan-born, Lisbon-based musician Nigga Fox, because its bewildering, polyrhythmic twists and turns are enough to sweep the rug right out from under your feet. "Meu Estilo" is Portuguese for "My Style," which is fitting, because Fox is definitely doing his own thing. The first nine tracks in the mix, a promo for his appearance at Príncipe Discos' monthly showcase at Lisbon's Musicbox club next week, are all Fox's own, and they suggest an unusually focused musical vision.

Sampled hand percussion and drum machines provide the rippling rhythmic base, with shuffling triplets set against a lanky 4/4 pulse; scraps of accordion, synth, and voice are daubed on like wet streaks of paint. Instead of melodic hooks, Fox goes for hiccupping, hypnotically repeated phrases that lodge, squirming, deep under the skin. And forget conventional tuning: Most of his riffage slides blissfully between the notes, offering a wry rejoinder to conventional Western intonation. That goes equally for his drums, whose seesawing pitch suggests woozy swells on the high seas. Fox's mastery of timbre brings to mind Shackleton and Ricardo Villalobos, which presents an interesting twist in the usual narrative: Where they look to Africa for inspiration, Fox warps far-out European club music to Angolan specifications.

Príncipe's André Ferreira offered a little context for the mix, after SPIN emailed to ask what was making our limbs feel so rubbery all of a sudden. "I'd say the main or dominant genre you can sense is so-called 'Afro-house,' which is quite big in South Africa (where it originated) and Angola (where Nigga Fox, real name Rogério, was born, and where Afro-house is becoming hegemonic now that the kuduro wave has passed). But he also incorporates the percussive elements he loves from batida (the name given to kuduro without vocals). The first nine tracks are of his own pen — he calls his production unit 'Lx Monkeys Beatz,' even though it's only him — and you can taste his approach to Afro-house, effortlessly weird and such a beautiful narrative across the whole flux."

Príncipe, which has previously released the kuduro/batida artist DJ Marfox as well as grinding, left-field techno from Photonz, is planning an EP release from Fox in the coming months. In the meantime, discover his fascinatingly warped take on Afro-house with the mix below.

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