A special Waterfire this weekend celebrating communities of color is coming to downtown Providence on Saturday, August 13.

Sponsored by Papitto Opportunity Connection (POC), the event is described as “an immersive cultural experience filled with exciting performance artists and locally renowned musicians and singers representing Black, Hispanic, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Latino cultures.” Musical headliners include Chachi Carvalho and the International Players, Becky Bass, and Robertico Y su Alebreke.

I spoke to RI-based hip-hop artist Carvalho recently and learned more about what he’s been up to lately. Carvalho is a hip-hop leader on the local scene and has won awards for his music, which is heavily influenced by his Cape Verdean heritage.

He has a new release out on Bandcamp titled Legacy, an album dedicated to his late father who passed away several years ago. “I put it out on Bandcamp, it’s officially out in September on vinyl and all the digital streaming platforms,” he explained.

“The last song on the album, ‘A Million Dollars’ features my older sister and my father. This was a piece recorded back in 2006 or 2007 that we had in the archives. The album is released 12 years after he passed away so it was kind of a cool way to connect back with him, and for my children to connect with him and hear his voice,” said Carvalho.

The album was produced by Carvalho’s longtime collaborator Vertygo, of Beatbox Productions. “I’ve been making music with him since ’99. We established Beatbox together in 2006. We’ve been building this thing for years, we’re very proud of the result.”

Indeed, Legacy is a compelling release that should appeal to a widespread audience. Carvalho’s eloquent lyrics and an overall nuanced approach to the recording with multiple layers of production make this one of those albums you’ll see on the year-end “Best of ‘22” lists.

Carvalho is a huge booster of the local hip-hop scene. “When you think of hip hop as a genre, it is so diverse, sonically, stylistically. In Rhode Island, you kind of have a community of folks who are either original or rooted in some of the traditional sounds of hip hop, not necessarily riding the current trends. And then you have a lot of young folks who are,” he remarked.

“The talent pool in the state for arts, we’ve always had so many talented individuals and I think that stems from us being a cultural mixing bowl, you have folks from all over. Whenever you have a lot of differences in close proximity, there’s opportunity for those cultures to kind of mix and blend. I’m a hip-hop artist but when you listen to what I bring to the table, it’s tough to classify it as just hip-hop. I blend and borrow from so many different genres of music,” said Carvalho.

With this album, I’ve been trying to step outside of the box in terms of my own comfort zone, with cadence and trying to sing a little bit more. It’s a growth process and I’m happy with it. What allows me the opportunity to be widely accepted is the fact that you might not necessarily have to be a hip hop fan to enjoy what I’m doing.”

Carvalho credits his Cape Verdean heritage for creating his distinct voice.

“Connecting with Cape Verde through music allowed me to get a deeper understanding of who I was and where I come from,” he said. “You can feel influences of Cape Verde throughout all of my music. It allows me to step way outside of the box in terms of infusing traditional Cape Verdean sounds into my brand of hip-hop. And to be accepted and loved in Cape Verde for music, I have a couple of songs that have become hits over there and I’ve had the opportunity to tour there a bunch,” he said.

For more on Saturday’s Waterfire, click here.

To listen to Calvalho’s album Legacy, click here.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music, the arts and more for What'sUpNewp. He is also a contributor to Providence Monthly, SO RI, Hey Rhody and The Bay magazines.
Ken DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse," a roots/folk/rock radio show every Tuesday, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM. He is a former educator in the Scituate, RI school system where he taught Social Studies for over 30 years.
Ken is presently on the board of the Rhode Island Folk Festival and Newport Live (formerly Common Fence Music), a non-profit that brings diverse musical acts to the Newport area.