Brazil meets South London, UK drill meets the world – Blanco’s music is about synthesis, bringing together different sounds to create something staggeringly new. His project ‘City Of God’ sits somewhere between Rio and Kennington, and its fusion of baile rhythms, UK flows, and a dense production patchwork has resulted in one of the year’s most unique rap projects.
Growing up, his Dad always spoke Portuguese in the house, meaning that he heard Brazilian music on the stereo throughout his childhood, and caught Brazilian films on the family TV. “It came natural to me,” he asserts. “The tempos work well together, so it’s a natural fit.”
Punchy and independent, ‘City Of God’ came into being through extensive studio sessions, with Blanco shutting between London and his producer’s base in Manchester. Guests such as Central Cee and NSG dropped by, and – gradually – he was able to bring his passions into focus, letting his inspirations run wild on tape. “I love movies, I love TV shows, I love anime,” he says. “It all comes out in my music. It’s hard to explain how it happens sometimes, it’s just the way my brain works!”
Typically for a project rooted in Brazilian culture, ‘City Of God’ is littered with football references. Blanco reminisces about watching the iconic 1998 Nike ad – featuring the Brazilian world cup squad playing football in an airport – before Clash notes that there’s a long association between music and sport. “Footballers love music too!” he states. “It all goes hand in hand. They need their form of escape, as well.”
A member of seminal South London drill crew Harlem Spartans, Blanco’s solo output is gaining velocity. ‘City Of God’ sent heads spinning, but he’s been stockpiling material for some time. “I just have to keep working,” he says. “I can’t force it. People showing interest is good, but it doesn’t define me. I just need to keep building.”
With his ambitions soaring, Blanco wants to take ‘City Of God’ right back to the source, unleashing it on South American crowds. “I’d love to play a show in Brazil,” says the rapper. “I think they’d understand the project. But the way the world is right now, I’ve got to be patient!”
Calm and assured, Blanco’s focussed creativity is finally gaining the hype it deserves. Packed with flair and a deeply felt sense of individuality, his art is carving out its own unique lane.
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Words: Robin Murray
Photography: Joel Smedley
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