As the lead single to São Paulo-based artist dadá Joãozinho’s debut album, tds bem Global, “Cuidado!” leans toward his ability to narrow the gap between music in the US and music in Brazil. Conceptualized to be João Rocha’s solo project after three years of contributing to his band ROSABEGE, dadá Joãozinho felt that his new material “needed to feel more intense” when he moved to São Paulo with the rest of his band in 2020.
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Off one track alone, no one in the States or anywhere else sounds quite like Rocha, who, with the help of fellow Brazilian artists Alceu and Bebé, make a name for themselves as though their lives depended on it.
Switching gears as if in the middle of a hot pursuit, the offbeat beat almost seems tailor-made for all three, where odd percussion sounds keep twisting and screwing like cogs in a convoluted machine. It eventually bubbles up when the mic goes to Aleu, who matches Rocha’s leisurely rapping on a brief but lasting feature. Around the two-minute mark, a momentary pause gives the spotlight to the production and allows Bebé to slow things down, who harmonizes perfectly alongside the assembly of drums.
For a solo artist, the music video does an impressive job of embodying the frantic energy brought upon when simply listening to the song. Throughout the runtime, the visuals cut between Rocha driving the three around in the day and at night, never stopping for a breather. At one point, the trio are pursued by the police and pressed to speed up, supposedly ending with them being all run over before cutting back to the day as if nothing had happened.
Both the single and the video illustrate what moving to São Paulo was like for Rocha. When speaking about his experience, he said, “I was dealing with too much moving around, always on transit, and this instability had profound effects on how I was dealing with affection. I realized I needed to be more careful with my people.”
The same can be said with his music, having played nearly every instrument on the album. On “Cuidado!” alone, he contributed to songwriting, vocals, synths, and production. When someone is that dedicated to making their material as singular as possible, the results are refreshingly unique and unlike anyone else here or there.
Words: David Sosa