Recorded to capitalize on the success of the forward-looking "Alegria, Alegria" at the TV Record Festival, the album mostly continued in the new direction in which Caetano and his fellow tropicalistas (though that term had not yet been employed to describe them) wanted to take Brazilian popular music. Where his debut Domingo had been primarily based on more traditional Brazilian musical styles such as bossa nova, his second album relied heavily on sounds and instrumentation more common to rock and roll and psychedelia.
The album's opener gets its title from the Hélio Oiticicainstallation of the same name; Caetano's appropriation of the title was the basis for his initial association with the term, which later lent its name to the art movement of which he was a central figure, Tropicalismo. The song's lyrics do not mention the title or refer to it directly. In fact, Caetano had already completed the song's composition when film producerLuiz Carlos Barreto suggested "Tropicália" as its title, seeing similarities between its content and that of the art exhibit. Caetano, who had never heard of Oiticica or his work up to that point, resolved to use the title until he found a better one, which he never did.
Caetano has expressed displeasure with the album, calling it "amateurish and confused", but it is widely regarded as a classic, often showing up on lists of greatest Brazilian albums. It was very popular upon its release in Brazil, and the Brazilian press used the song title "Tropicália" to christen the larger artistic movement it represented "Tropicalismo", to the disdain of Caetano himself.