Think about a movement in modern popular music whose influence and overall cultural relevance was so big you'd think it was bigger than it actually was. Tropicália is that sort of movement.

Despite having lasted little over two years (roughly from '67 to '69) and the musicians involved not being that numerous either -- at least those where the style was felt the most, like Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, Tom Zé, and Gilberto Gil --Tropicália was both a catalyst and a result of those formative countercultural years in Brazil, when everything was new, exciting, exotic, and combative, and the smell of revolution triggered each and every creative venture like heat season in cats.

Mixing revolutionary militancy with a new approach to art in general -- check out Glauber Rocha's work for influences on film, for example -- Tropicália emerged as a brand new take on the ever-growing gap between the major forces operating in Brazilian music at the time, and which were mainly constituted by Bossa Nova, MPB, and the newcomers Jovem Guarda.

Tropicália, being rather adverse to any sort of hermeticism that might derive from stylistic barriers, added a sense of protest and humour to popular music at the same time it recovered tribal and indigenous sounds that came both from Native South American cultures like Tupi's or Guarani's and the country's own post-slavery black culture, linking them with external influences like rock'n'roll and the emerging psychedelia. It's this intrinsic omnivorous quality of the movement -- which inherently results in a democratisation of the sound -- that ultimately contributed to the richness of its legacy, felt in the likes of post-Tropicalist Raul Seixas or neo-Tropicália bands such as Boogarins.

The end of Tropicália, which came around the end of the decade, was brought about essentially by two factors: the first, and most obvious one, was the need for reinvention that the musicians who were at its genesis, creatively prolific, different, and restless as they were, ultimately had; the other was the tightening of the dictatorial repression in Brazil, which resulted in most of the members either fleeing the country or getting arrested: an episode that is said to have symbolically ended Tropicália took place at a show Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil played together in 1969, and during which a flag by visual artist Hélio Oititica saying "Seja Marginal, Seja Herói" -- "be an outsider, be a hero" was hanged, an act immediately perceived as subversive by the military who immediately arrested Caetano and Gil, eventually freeing them in exile.

Besides the essential 1968 collaborative album Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis, which remains the definitive musical totem of this short-lived movement, there are a couple of tracks you should dive into as an introduction to this fascinating sub-genre of Brazilian music from the '60s. We've gathered them in an essential playlist for you; não tem de quê*.


Caetano Veloso - 'Tropicália'
Gilberto Gil & Torquato Neto - 'Geléia Geral'
Os Mutantes - 'Panis et Circenses'
Tom Zé - 'São São Paulo (Meu Amor)'
Gal Costa - 'Divino Maravilhoso'
Nara Leão - 'Mamãe Coragem'
Caetano Veloso - 'Soy Loco Por Ti America'
Os Mutantes - 'A Minha Menina'
Gilberto Gil - 'Domingo No Parque'
Gal Costa - 'Baby'
Caetano Veloso - 'Alegria, Alegria'

*you're welcome