O Rappa

One could say that Jamaican singer Papa Winnie had a serendipitous hand in the creation of O Rappa, the Rio de Janeiro-based reggae/funk-rock band that performs this weekend in Pompano Beach. In 1993, Winnie arrived in Brazil for an extended tour with no backing musicians. A pickup band was quickly assembled by bassist Nelson Meirelles, and after Winnie's tour was over, Meirelles, drummer Marcelo Yuka, keyboardist Marcelo Lobato, and guitarist Alexandre Menezes realized that there was enough chemistry among them to start an original band. When vocalist Marcelo Falcão answered an ad in the newspaper and came onboard, O Rappa (pronounced O Hoppa) was born. Like many Brazilian bands that embraced American sounds in the mid-'90s, O Rappa incorporates native sounds into its sonic blend of rock, soul, hip-hop, and reggae, ultimately emerging with something unique. The lyrics show social concern about what goes on in the suburbs of Rio and around the country without being crass or vulgar. It has not been an easy ride for the group. In 2001, tragedy struck — Yuka, one of O Rappa's major lyricists, was shot during a robbery and paralyzed below the waist. But the group has soldiered on without Yuka and garnered large acclaim both in Brazil and in the United States. It's playing only two U.S. shows for this tour, so if you wind up at this gig, consider yourself lucky.

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Ernest Barteldes