Some may say that Sergio Mendes, back with his second round of Brazilian classics brought into the 21st century with hip-hop rhythms, is simply cashing in. But not with music this good. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Brasil ’66, Brasil ’77, Brasil ’88 or Brasil ’08. The many forms of musica Brasiliera simply haven’t lost their popularity over the course of 50 years. Today you can see that with new Brazilian-retro-rhythm group Bossacucanova or in the popularity of remixed bossa lounge compilations. Mendes sold more than 200,000 copies with his first mash-up of bossa-hip-hop with producer Will.i.am, Timeless, in 2006. So he’s back with the Black Eyed Peas maestro on the second round of classics and originals. Will.i.am has even brought bandmate Fergie with him, and she gets the lead track with “The Look of Love,” a shuffling sing-song version of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David classic (that Mendes took all the way to No. 4 on the pop charts in 1967) with Will.i.am joining her on a rap chorus.
Who wouldn’t want to work with Mendes? There’s the cool, check-this-out factor: Italian singer-rapper Jovanotti on “Lugar Comum,” with its mix of Italian and Portuguese lyrics; Columbian rocker Juanes slowing it down for “Y Vamos Ya”; and new R&B chanteuse Ledisi on “Waters of March.” The lounge factor for older folks: Natalie Cole on “Somewhere in the Hills”; Mendes’ wife Gracinha Leporace on “Catavento”; the legendary husband-and-wife team of Herb Alpert and Lani Hall—she an original member of Brasil ’66—on “Dreamer.” And the welcome factor of well-known, established Brazilian singers: vocalists Carlinhos Brown with “Oda-Ya” and Vanessa da Mata with “Acode.”