Kai, known as Sángo, is a DJ, producer and overall artist from Seattle, Washington. Sángo blessed the stage at the Echoplex in Los Angeles on February 3, 2017, along with Monte Booker and Kronika–all of which are affiliated with the Los Angeles-based music collective, Soulection.
I learned about Sángo through a music sharing session with a Lyft driver. It was the last artist he recommended to me before I stepped out the car, so when I got home I looked him up. My mind was blown–I have been listening to baile funk since 2013, so when I heard Sángo’s take on it, I was immediately captivated.
Sángo’s creations sample baile funk, an infectious music genre born out of the “favelas,” or low-income communities settled in the urban hills of Brazil. This sound has deep historical roots that tapped into American funk and soul. The music and scene have long been stigmatized and criminalized due to overarching factors such as class, race, morality and politics. Despite all this, baile funk has made its way around the world and into Sángo’s beats.
The line to get into the show extended for many feet down the sidewalk and Briana López, from Lancaster, California, secured her spot since 6 pm. Lopez’s initial introduction to Sángo happened in 2014 through his song “Middle of Things/Beautiful Wife” featuring Xavier Omär.
“So when I heard it I was like, ‘Man, this guy is good,’ you know?” I asked López if she listens to baile funk, “If it probably wasn’t for Sángo I probably wouldn’t have listened to it.”
DJ Kronika opened the stage and set high and unified energy as the night’s standard. At one point she liberated herself from her headphones and joined the crowd’s movement to some of her baile funk beats. Rapper, Smino and DJ Monte Booker hyped the crowd further until it was time for Sángo. By the time he came out, everyone was ready for him.
The house was packed and vibing to Sángo’s beats with soulful swaying and occasional baile funk twerking. When possible, the audience vocally joined in, singing along even when the lyrics were in Portuguese. The energy was unified and embracive.
When I spoke to Sángo at the end of the show I asked him how it felt to be back on the road, “It’s busy but it’s important to stay healthy. Be mindful. It’s business. You got to be professional about your craft.” I pushed the question further by asking how he’s felt with the new baby and wife back home, “It’s always hard. I leave to go to the grocery store and I start missing them. But we’re used to it so we’re working it out.”
I hope Sángo knows that his sacrifice of being away from his family is appreciated through the union of cultures that happen within his beats and among the crowds he plays these beats in.