Imagine a street party in a Brazilian city where a huge soundsystem with gut-wobbling bass plays amazing dubbed-out jazz, funky hip-hop, smooth Brazilian dance beats, and other soulful electronics. Now imagine the proceeds from the event going to improve conditions in the slums and favelas of the sprawling city. One record company decided to turn this dream into reality, and now we hear the results on Verge Records’ new comp, The Inspiring New Sounds of Rio de Janeiro.

Featuring five original artists offering 13 potent jams that blend reggae, samba, hip-hop, funk, and dance music, the sampler cries out for justice and works to reveal the hardships of favela life. Where as baile funk intentionally ratchets up the hyperviolent gangsta energy of the slums, New Sounds channels it into something positive.

Samuca, lyricist and MC for Movimento na Rua, spent a decade in jail as a young man, but not in vain. A prison conversion led him to turn his life around and dedicate it to helping youth from the favela. He used the thousands of poems he wrote while behind bars to forge a hard-hitting but inspiring message aimed at educating the outside world about the reality in the slums, as well as reaching the child soldiers in the local drug wars in the best way he knew how–through music.

Bringing together diverse artists with socially conscious perspectives and cutting-edge sounds–like those heard on Inspiring Sounds–is the core of Verge’s mission. Label founder Emmanuel Zunz, a classically trained musician with a graduate degree in international economics, created Verge with a “double bottom line,” making social responsibility an integral part of the label’s business.

The uplifting side of the album is expressed by artists like A Filial, BNegão e Os Seletores de Frequençia, and Digital Dubs, all of which bring Rio’s special sensibility to everything from neo-samba to Jamaican dub. “This music coming out of Rio is a real movement, the new age of Brazilian music,” explains Zunz. “Bossa nova and samba is combined with hip hop. Interestingly, hip-hop from other cities like São Paulo is more like gansta rap, while in Rio, it’s more laid back, maybe because it’s such a beautiful city, more mellowed out.”

The Inspiring New Sounds of Rio de Janeiro is out July 10, 2007 on Verge.

1. A Filial “Tremenda Calorera”
2. BNegao e Os Seletores de Frequencia “V.V.”
3. Digital Dubs “Si Liga Nelas”
4. Movimento Na Rua “Soldados Nunca Mais”
5. BNegao e Os Seletores de Frequencia “Dorobo”
6. A Filial “Cartilha”
7. Gabriel Moura “Brasis”
8. Movimento Na Rua “Periferia de Jah”
9. Digital Dubs “Pretinho Babylon”
10. Movimento Na Rua “Realidade”
11. BNegao e Os Seletores de Frequencia “No Hay”
12. Gabriel Moura “O Perfume Da Nega”
13. A Filial “Camila”