Such is the passion and intensity of Diogo Moncorvo’s latest release, Bluesman, that it merited more than a music video.
The rapper from the Brazilian state of Bahia, better known by his nickname Baco Exu do Blues, has said he wanted to “make a blues record, only without singing the blues”. In a similar way, AKQA São Paulo has made a video to accompany his new album which bares little resemblance to a traditional music promo.
A seven-minute film made in collaboration with the Coala Festival, one of Brazil’s biggest independent music festivals, it is a profoundly sensuous experience. Young actor Kelson Succi stars as a man running through the streets of São Paulo without explanation. He makes his way through an occasionally surreal landscape which appears to combine both real life and imagination.
Soundtracked by three songs from Baco’s new album — Preto e Prata (Black and Silver), Queima Minha Pele (Burning My Skin) and the title track Bluesman — the film embraces universal themes such as growing up and growing old, faith, family and friendship.
It challenges viewers’ preconceived notions about what they are watching, with a series of striking tableaux and an underlying tension that permeates the entire film. But the overriding emotions that emerge from this extraordinary work are ones of fulfilment and deep joy, a breathtaking celebration and a paean to both individuality and togetherness.
Baco has said his music is for “anyone who has ever felt oppressed, subjugated or devalued and does not want to be in that place”. This is echoed by the cover of the Bluesman album, which features a symbol of resistance, a photo of a prisoner wielding a guitar.
AKQA executive creative director Diego Machado said: “Influential artists use their creativity to echo the reality of what’s going on in the world to oppose bigotry, injustice and inequality. Baco Exu do Blues’s aspiration is to use his platform to challenge preconceptions and become a positive, inspirational force in society through his craft.”
AKQA has previously collaborated with artists on both a local and global scale to create work that transcends entertainment, absorbing influences, melding cultures and forging connections with creative worlds. With Usher, AKQA created a video using facial recognition technology for Chains, his anthem for the victims of oppression.
AKQA’s involvement in the Bluesman project included the video, which was directed by Douglas Bernardt of Stink Films, cover art and launch event. The music was written and performed by Baco Exu do Blues.