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Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal | MAJOR

Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal | MAJOR
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Even though Lisbon-based Cacique ’97 describes itself as an “afrobeat” collective, here the term is somewhat limiting and fails to convey the group’s ability to blend a variety of influences. To be sure, afrobeat remains the driving and unifying force throughout their album, but Brazilian and Portuguese touches allow for a more international flavor, expanding the core afrobeat sound but also highlighting the African (and sometimes afrobeat) influence already present in these other cultures. An album like Jorge Ben’s África Brasil is not ordinarily classified as afrobeat, yet some of Cacique ’97’s tracks (“Eu Quero Todo,” “Jorge De Capadócia”) would hardly sound out of place in that context. Other songs nod towards hip-hop and dub, further opening one’s mind to the global potential of afrobeat, simultaneously suggesting multiple facets of African music’s history while hinting at possible futures. Afrobeat seems to be more popular than ever, yet it is not always the case that artists are able to successfully internalize and personalize it to the extent of Cacique ’97.

Even so, one of the more memorable tracks is a relatively straightforward history lesson and statement of purpose regarding afrobeat. Rhythmically propulsive and atmospheric, “Come from Nigeria” sells the genre on the basis of feeling and movement well before the lyrics verbalize its ability to resonate with all African-derived music everywhere. The remainder of the album feels like an exploration of this idea, and so the track is also something of a centerpiece. It is worth noting that the artist most commonly associated with afrobeat, Fela Kuti, is often thought of as having a certain rough quality to his sound, a rawness that contributes to its intensity. Cacique ’97 are not lacking in intensity, but they can sound a bit more polished and slick, to the point that the dance potential of a song like “Come from Nigeria” is as up front as its political, historical, and social relevancy.

Other tracks of note include “Dragão,” maybe the coolest Bruce Lee tribute since Underground Resistance: “…we’re paying tribute to the only one that can kick your ass with style, and you will love it.” Closer “Kodé” is relaxed and meditative but still subtly funky, incorporating kalimba and Iberian guitar (or a guitar-like instrument) with the ever-present horns and a melancholic vocal. There are dimensions present one would not normally associate with afrobeat, which is also what makes the album interesting as a whole.

Justin Deremo - Okayplayer by Justin Deremo

The Portuguese band Cacique '97 is further proof that the Nigerian jazz-funk style known as afrobeat has become a truly international phenomenon. A big horn section over a driving bassline and multi-layered vocals means Cacique '97 can hold their own among the best Afrobeat bands anywhere in the world. Besides, doesn't everything sound more laid-back in Portuguese? - Casual Listening by Jeff Pinzino

I still have one of those proper stereos in my house here in the States...still haven't made the transition into one of those slick Bose iPod players. As I write this my living room is invaded with the sumptuous, real, earthy sound of quality afrobeat, the type of afrobeat that reverberates within your soul. Except that this afrobeat isn't sung in English like the afrobeats of the Kuti clan or Tony Allen; this afrobeat is Lusophone.

Cacique '97 is a band by the same people who brought you the hypnotic dubs and reggae ambiance of Dub Inna Week. Forever pushing the boundaries of Lusophone music, this time they decided to record the first Portuguese afrobeat album. The result are the tunes you hear below, the unique mixture of Portuguese with Yoruba music, jazz, funk, and highlife that Fela Kuti immortalized and christened as afrobeat. These afrobeats feature the vocals of Milton Gulli, Ikonoklasta, Bob da Rage Sense and others; Eu Quero Tudo, my favorite tune on the album, should serve as your introduction into Cacique. It's followed by Sr. Diplomata, which features Portuguese and Portuguese Creole and the likes of Ikonoklasta, Bob da Rage Sense, Sagaz and Sir Scratch. It's a jam featuring artists from Angola, Portugal, Mozambique and Cape Verde sung in hip-hop style on top of a beat created by a Nigerian...the world is truly flat. Your afrobeat experience ends with the laid back, chilled out vibe of 13, one of the album's standout tracks. - Caipirinha Lounge

The Iberian Peninsula has long been an area of shifting, merging culture, in large part because of its position as a gateway to Africa and the Ottoman world. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the latest Afrobeat troupe to emerge comes from Lisbon, and also incorporates musical elements of former Portuguese colony Brazil. Their name comes from a term meaning "chief" in indigenous Brazilian tribes plus the "'97" as a commemoration of the year Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti died.

The energy and arrangements of their self-titled album would make Fela proud, though as a non-Portuguese speaker unaided by any song notes or lyrics, I have no idea if they're singing about social injustice or just a desire to visit the mall. Okay, their press info indicates the former, mentioning their "activist approach and promotion of social awareness" and a couple of the songs include English lyrics, but still, would it have killed them to include some track notes? That quibble aside, this is some of the freshest Afrobeat I've heard in some time, and you've got to like a group that can make a Jorge Ben song (the opening track "Jorge De Capadocia") sound like it's straight outta Lagos. Highly recommended!
- Soundroots


"Cacique´97" LP and Vinyl - Footmovin Records - 2009
"Chapa 97" EP - free download - 2011



Lisbon has always been a stage for the meeting of several cultures, mostly due to the past of the city as the capital of a colonial empire in Africa and Latin America.

Nowadays it is a huge pot of creativity which attracts artists from all over the World and it is a privileged space where musicians find each other, share ideas and mix rhythms. It is from this mixture that, in 2005, afro beat collective Cacique97 is born. With musicians with Mozambican and Portuguese origins, this collective incorporates members from groups such as Cool Hipnoise, Philharmonic Weed and The Most Wanted, well known projects in the areas of funk, reggae and the afro sound.

The passion for the music of Fela Kuti and Tony Allen has united these musicians for the pursuance of a common goal: to create a collective that mirrored the Lisbon mixture, by crossing the characteristic urban Nigerian rhythm which is afro beat, with the musical tradition of the African Portuguese speaking countries and of Brazil, whom has always been very present in the Portuguese capital.

Cacique97 intend to give birth to a global soundtrack of the new times without losing the activist approach and the promotion of social awareness so fond to afro beat.

The afrobeat collective ended the year of 2010 in beauty, after performing at the most important World Music festivals in Portugal and the prestigious Warsaw Cross Cultured Festival in Poland, alongside artists such as Salif Keita, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Mayra Andrade. The debut album, released in 2009, announced as the first afrobeat record in the lusophone countries, was rapidly embraced by national and international critics, with the highlight of Okayplayer, from the legendary The Roots. The 11th of March will be the date of the release of a new EP entitled "Chapa 97". This EP will be available for free download in the Portuguese label Footmovin Records. And what is a Chapa? It is hard to believe that Mozambique does not have an effective public transportation network. The transport is secured by 12 seats Toyota vans called the Chapa! For a negotiable price, these private buses ensure several routes in the country, where in each stop the collector receives the clients payments and tries to convince others to join the ride. Cacique´s Chapa has the number 97 and invites you to take a ride on the lusophone afrobeat.