Buraka Som Sistema

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Buraka Som Sistema
Buraka Som Sistema.jpg
Buraka Som Sistema performing at Mauer Park in 2013
Background information
Origin Buraca, Amadora, Portugal
Genres Kuduro
Alternative Dance
Years active 2006–present
Labels Enchufada
Sony BMG
Associated acts Cooltrain Crew, Ngonguenha, Petty, Puto Prata
Members DJ Riot, Li'l John, Conductor, Kalaf
Notable instruments
Drum machine
Electronic keyboard

Buraka Som Sistema is an electronic dance music project from Portugal, specializing in a fusion of techno beats with the African zouk and kuduro genre. It is generally credited with creating the "zouk bass" and "progressive kuduro" variant [1] and has received an MTV European Music Award.[2]


Buraka Som Sistema was founded in 2006 by João Barbosa (Li'l John), Rui Pité (DJ Riot), Andro Carvalho (Conductor) and Kalaf Ângelo.

Barbosa and Pité were producers from the Cool Train Crew collective, for which Kalaf was a frequent vocal collaborator. They were interested in creating a kuduro project, and had previously worked together as 1-UIK Project. They met Carvalho, a hip-hop producer from Angola and member of the hip-hop band Conjunto Ngonguenha, while he was in Portugal.[3]

Buraka Som Sistema is the Portuguese word for word translation for Buraka Sound System, keeping the English word order (the correct translation would be "Sistema de Som da Buraka"). They took their name, Buraka, from the freguesia of Buraca in the city of Amadora, part of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area.


Their first release was From Buraka to the World, an EP released on the Portuguese label Enchufada, which include the single "Yah!", featuring vocals from Angolan hip-hop MC Petty. It was followed by another Petty vocalized track, "Wawaba", and a re-release of From Buraka to the World, expanded to a full album.

After touring in several European countries, including playing at the Glastonbury Festival and Roskilde Festival,[3] the three producers released "Sound of Kuduro" in 2007, which features rapping by M.I.A., DJ Znobia, Saborosa and Puto Prata. The track was a precursor to their second album, Black Diamond, which was released in 2008 by Sony BMG, followed by a new single, "Kalemba (Wegue Wegue)", with vocals by Pongolove.

Zouk Bass[edit]

Buraka Som Sistema‘s recent Boiler Room session sparked some serious intrigue from global bass heads worldwide for its “introduction” of Zouk Bass — a screwed, electronic take on 80s French Antilles zouk music popularized by Kassav.

We asked Buraka member Kalaf to breakdown this genre mutation for us. “We created it,” Kalaf responded via e-mail, “while recording Komba we were exploring other rhythms such as Zouk and Kizomba… When we were invited to play at the Boiler Room we had this idea to share more Lisbon sounds (beside kuduro) with the world. Since we like to twist things up we think “Zouk Bass” would be perfect name to label those beats.” On their Enchufada label page, Buraka describe the genetic make-up of the genre in a post titled We Call It Zouk Bass: “By lowering the BPM and taking Zouk’s rhythms and melodies to meet the electronic and bass-heavy sounds of the UK underground a new genre was born.”

While BSS can certainly be credited for proliferating this new sub-genre and bringing it to a world stage, the track that inspired it all — and the first tune Buraka dropped on their Boiler Room set — was Deejay Kuimba‘s “Tarraxo Na Parede.” In an interview with Generation Bass, the Setúbal based underground DJ/producer described the style of his track: “Zouk Bass for me it’s different than any other style but it is still based on “Tarraxinha” and “Kizomba” but totally different…. The idea is a dance style of music but leaning against the wall while dancing to it as u can imagine listening to that beat.”


Studio Albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions Sales Certifications
(sales thresholds)
2006 From Buraka to the World
  • Originally released as an EP
  • Later re-released as a full album with extra tracks
  • POR:-
  • AFP: -
2008 Black Diamond
  • First full studio album
  • Released: November, 2008
7 54
  • POR: 10,000+
  • WW:20,000+
  • AFP:Gold
2011 Komba
  • Second studio album
  • Released: November, 2011
  • POR: -
  • WW:-
  • AFP:-


Year Title Chart Positions Album
2007 "Yah" - - - Black Diamond
"Wawaba (v. 1.8)" - - -
2008 "Sound of Kuduro" featuring DJ Znobia, M.I.A. - - -
"Kalemba (Wegue Wegue)" 1 - 87
2009 "Aqui Para Vocês (feat. Deize Tigrona)" - - 91
2011 "Hangover (BaBaBa) " - - - Komba
"(We Stay) Up All Night" - - -


In the MTV Europe Music Awards 2007 they were 8th (out of 19) in the New Sounds of Europe International Competition and were one of the nominees for Best Portuguese Act. In the MTV Europe Music Awards 2008 they were awarded the Best Portuguese Act and were nominees for Best European Act.

MTV Europe Music Awards[edit]

The MTV Europe Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony established in 1994 by MTV Europe.

Year Recipient Award Result
2007 Buraka Som Sistema New Sounds of Europe Nominated
Buraka Som Sistema Best Portuguese Act Nominated
2008 Buraka Som Sistema Best Portuguese Act Won
2009 Buraka Som Sistema Best Portuguese Act Nominated

Golden Globes[edit]

The Golden Globes is an annual awards ceremony by Portuguese TV station SIC.

Year Recipient Award Result
2009 Buraka Som Sistema Group Of The Year Won

European Border Breakers Awards[edit]

The European Border Breakers Award is an annual awards ceremony for artists or groups who reached audiences outside their own countries with their first internationally released album in the past year.

Year Recipient Award Result
2009 Black Diamond European Border Breakers Award Won[4]


  1. ^ "Blitz (Portuguese music magazine) online artist database". Blitz. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  2. ^ Conway, Eleanor (2008-11-21). "Eleanor Conway presents Buraka Som Sistema podcast". Virgin. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  3. ^ a b Lage, Joana (2007-05-02). "Buraka Som Sistema Interview". MyVillage.com. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  4. ^ "European Border Breakers Awards 2010", Ec.europa.eu. Retrieved February 21, 2012

External links[edit]