Music

Urban Legend

He’s from Naples, he loves Napoli and has become a voice for both city and club. Yet he has no record label, no music manager and no one knows who he actually is. Meet Liberato, sort of…

WORDS Alessio Costabile and Dan Poole

Liberato was well prepared for this pandemic: he’s been a masked man for the past four years. The enigmatic Italian singer really isn’t one for putting a face to a name: hood pulled up over his head, bandana covering all but his eyes and sunglasses on, he’s got vision yet provides no visuals.

However, the mysterious musician isn’t here to deny all your senses: he may be stingy on sightings, having taken the Banksy approach to publicity via the nagging allure of the unknowable, but he’s generous to a fault on sounds. He has been releasing songs in a steady drip, drip fashion since 2017 (including Massive Attack collaborations, more on which later), culminating in his first, eponymous album in 2019. His lyrics define eclecticism: listen closely and you’ll hear a mixture of Italian, French, Spanish and English. They contribute, on a number of levels, to an electric sound that merges trap, trip-hop and trance influences.

Another noticeable influence is musica neomelodica, or neomelodic music: it’s a style rooted in Naples that’s a fusion of Neapolitan love songs, a bit of Spanish guitar, cheesy pop and Euro-trance. And it makes perfect sense that Liberato would channel this genre (as well as throwing in some Neapolitan dialect) for this is a man who is clearly in love with Naples and, specifically, in love with Napoli.

Take a look at his music videos on YouTube and you’ll feel like you’re on a gritty sightseeing tour, with the Piazza Mercato, Quartieri Spagnoli, Lungomare and Mount Vesuvius among the hot spots that make an appearance. And in each video you’re guaranteed to see at least one reference to the football club, be it the stadium, flags, shirts, graffiti or some other nod to the Azzurri. Such regalia is noticeably out in force for We Come from Napoli, a collaboration with Massive Attack frontman 3D – otherwise known as Robert Del Naja, who was born in Bristol, comes from a Neapolitan family and supports Napoli (naturally). Liberato even namechecks a few players at the end of his second single, including captain Lorenzo Insigne.

Then there’s the fact that Liberato’s concerts always open with a remix of the Opus track Live is Life. Why? It’s the song that accompanied Diego Maradona’s famous warm-up routine before Napoli’s 1989 UEFA Cup semi-final in Munich.

“I can only tell you that my name is Liberato, I was born in Naples and I make music”

Liberato was well prepared for this pandemic: he’s been a masked man for the past four years. The enigmatic Italian singer really isn’t one for putting a face to a name: hood pulled up over his head, bandana covering all but his eyes and sunglasses on, he’s got vision yet provides no visuals.

However, the mysterious musician isn’t here to deny all your senses: he may be stingy on sightings, having taken the Banksy approach to publicity via the nagging allure of the unknowable, but he’s generous to a fault on sounds. He has been releasing songs in a steady drip, drip fashion since 2017 (including Massive Attack collaborations, more on which later), culminating in his first, eponymous album in 2019. His lyrics define eclecticism: listen closely and you’ll hear a mixture of Italian, French, Spanish and English. They contribute, on a number of levels, to an electric sound that merges trap, trip-hop and trance influences.

Another noticeable influence is musica neomelodica, or neomelodic music: it’s a style rooted in Naples that’s a fusion of Neapolitan love songs, a bit of Spanish guitar, cheesy pop and Euro-trance. And it makes perfect sense that Liberato would channel this genre (as well as throwing in some Neapolitan dialect) for this is a man who is clearly in love with Naples and, specifically, in love with Napoli.

Take a look at his music videos on YouTube and you’ll feel like you’re on a gritty sightseeing tour, with the Piazza Mercato, Quartieri Spagnoli, Lungomare and Mount Vesuvius among the hot spots that make an appearance. And in each video you’re guaranteed to see at least one reference to the football club, be it the stadium, flags, shirts, graffiti or some other nod to the Azzurri. Such regalia is noticeably out in force for We Come from Napoli, a collaboration with Massive Attack frontman 3D – otherwise known as Robert Del Naja, who was born in Bristol, comes from a Neapolitan family and supports Napoli (naturally). Liberato even namechecks a few players at the end of his second single, including captain Lorenzo Insigne.

Then there’s the fact that Liberato’s concerts always open with a remix of the Opus track Live is Life. Why? It’s the song that accompanied Diego Maradona’s famous warm-up routine before Napoli’s 1989 UEFA Cup semi-final in Munich.

Read the full story
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Back to those videos, though. They are directed by another Neapolitan maestro in the form of Francesco Lettieri, who has made his name by putting together visuals for music but has recently helmed his first feature film. It’s a Netflix movie about fan culture in his home town – and you can probably guess who provided the soundtrack.

But wait: are director and composer one and the same? That’s one of the many theories doing the rounds as Liberato fans try to get to the bottom of the singer’s elusive identity. Other hypotheses: that he’s Emanuele Cerullo, a writer from the notorious suburb of Scampia; that he’s Italian rapper Livio Cori; or that he’s actually a team of rappers. He doesn’t make things any easier at his gigs, with three separate performers dressed as identical Liberatos having appeared on stage at the same time.

“I don’t care who Liberato is – for days I have been injecting Nove Maggio and Tu t’e scurdat’ ’e me into my eardrums.” Praise for two of Liberato’s best-known tracks from none other than Roberto Saviano, another Naples native and author of bestselling book Gomorrah. Mayor Luigi De Magistris has also declared himself a fan, suggesting in 2018 that he would be attending a concert on the Lungomare. He was in good company: the free gig ended up attracting more than 20,000 people from across Italy, smashing the expected turnout of about 6,000.

So Liberato loves Naples and the city, particularly Napoli’s fanbase, loves him right back. That’s even though – or perhaps because – they are showing their appreciation for an idea, a shared passion, as opposed to feeling a palpable connection to a fellow person. In a rare interview that he gave to the Italian version of Rolling Stone (via email rather than in person or on the phone), he endeavoured to simplify things: “I can only tell you that my name is Liberato, I was born in Naples and I make music.”

Of course, that still leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions.

“I can only tell you that my name is Liberato, I was born in Naples and I make music”

Liberato was well prepared for this pandemic: he’s been a masked man for the past four years. The enigmatic Italian singer really isn’t one for putting a face to a name: hood pulled up over his head, bandana covering all but his eyes and sunglasses on, he’s got vision yet provides no visuals.

However, the mysterious musician isn’t here to deny all your senses: he may be stingy on sightings, having taken the Banksy approach to publicity via the nagging allure of the unknowable, but he’s generous to a fault on sounds. He has been releasing songs in a steady drip, drip fashion since 2017 (including Massive Attack collaborations, more on which later), culminating in his first, eponymous album in 2019. His lyrics define eclecticism: listen closely and you’ll hear a mixture of Italian, French, Spanish and English. They contribute, on a number of levels, to an electric sound that merges trap, trip-hop and trance influences.

Another noticeable influence is musica neomelodica, or neomelodic music: it’s a style rooted in Naples that’s a fusion of Neapolitan love songs, a bit of Spanish guitar, cheesy pop and Euro-trance. And it makes perfect sense that Liberato would channel this genre (as well as throwing in some Neapolitan dialect) for this is a man who is clearly in love with Naples and, specifically, in love with Napoli.

Take a look at his music videos on YouTube and you’ll feel like you’re on a gritty sightseeing tour, with the Piazza Mercato, Quartieri Spagnoli, Lungomare and Mount Vesuvius among the hot spots that make an appearance. And in each video you’re guaranteed to see at least one reference to the football club, be it the stadium, flags, shirts, graffiti or some other nod to the Azzurri. Such regalia is noticeably out in force for We Come from Napoli, a collaboration with Massive Attack frontman 3D – otherwise known as Robert Del Naja, who was born in Bristol, comes from a Neapolitan family and supports Napoli (naturally). Liberato even namechecks a few players at the end of his second single, including captain Lorenzo Insigne.

Then there’s the fact that Liberato’s concerts always open with a remix of the Opus track Live is Life. Why? It’s the song that accompanied Diego Maradona’s famous warm-up routine before Napoli’s 1989 UEFA Cup semi-final in Munich.

Urban Legend

“I can only tell you that my name is Liberato, I was born in Naples and I make music”

Music

Urban Legend

He’s from Naples, he loves Napoli and has become a voice for both city and club. Yet he has no record label, no music manager and no one knows who he actually is. Meet Liberato, sort of…

WORDS Alessio Costabile and Dan Poole

Liberato was well prepared for this pandemic: he’s been a masked man for the past four years. The enigmatic Italian singer really isn’t one for putting a face to a name: hood pulled up over his head, bandana covering all but his eyes and sunglasses on, he’s got vision yet provides no visuals.

However, the mysterious musician isn’t here to deny all your senses: he may be stingy on sightings, having taken the Banksy approach to publicity via the nagging allure of the unknowable, but he’s generous to a fault on sounds. He has been releasing songs in a steady drip, drip fashion since 2017 (including Massive Attack collaborations, more on which later), culminating in his first, eponymous album in 2019. His lyrics define eclecticism: listen closely and you’ll hear a mixture of Italian, French, Spanish and English. They contribute, on a number of levels, to an electric sound that merges trap, trip-hop and trance influences.

Another noticeable influence is musica neomelodica, or neomelodic music: it’s a style rooted in Naples that’s a fusion of Neapolitan love songs, a bit of Spanish guitar, cheesy pop and Euro-trance. And it makes perfect sense that Liberato would channel this genre (as well as throwing in some Neapolitan dialect) for this is a man who is clearly in love with Naples and, specifically, in love with Napoli.

Take a look at his music videos on YouTube and you’ll feel like you’re on a gritty sightseeing tour, with the Piazza Mercato, Quartieri Spagnoli, Lungomare and Mount Vesuvius among the hot spots that make an appearance. And in each video you’re guaranteed to see at least one reference to the football club, be it the stadium, flags, shirts, graffiti or some other nod to the Azzurri. Such regalia is noticeably out in force for We Come from Napoli, a collaboration with Massive Attack frontman 3D – otherwise known as Robert Del Naja, who was born in Bristol, comes from a Neapolitan family and supports Napoli (naturally). Liberato even namechecks a few players at the end of his second single, including captain Lorenzo Insigne.

Then there’s the fact that Liberato’s concerts always open with a remix of the Opus track Live is Life. Why? It’s the song that accompanied Diego Maradona’s famous warm-up routine before Napoli’s 1989 UEFA Cup semi-final in Munich.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Liberato was well prepared for this pandemic: he’s been a masked man for the past four years. The enigmatic Italian singer really isn’t one for putting a face to a name: hood pulled up over his head, bandana covering all but his eyes and sunglasses on, he’s got vision yet provides no visuals.

However, the mysterious musician isn’t here to deny all your senses: he may be stingy on sightings, having taken the Banksy approach to publicity via the nagging allure of the unknowable, but he’s generous to a fault on sounds. He has been releasing songs in a steady drip, drip fashion since 2017 (including Massive Attack collaborations, more on which later), culminating in his first, eponymous album in 2019. His lyrics define eclecticism: listen closely and you’ll hear a mixture of Italian, French, Spanish and English. They contribute, on a number of levels, to an electric sound that merges trap, trip-hop and trance influences.

Another noticeable influence is musica neomelodica, or neomelodic music: it’s a style rooted in Naples that’s a fusion of Neapolitan love songs, a bit of Spanish guitar, cheesy pop and Euro-trance. And it makes perfect sense that Liberato would channel this genre (as well as throwing in some Neapolitan dialect) for this is a man who is clearly in love with Naples and, specifically, in love with Napoli.

Take a look at his music videos on YouTube and you’ll feel like you’re on a gritty sightseeing tour, with the Piazza Mercato, Quartieri Spagnoli, Lungomare and Mount Vesuvius among the hot spots that make an appearance. And in each video you’re guaranteed to see at least one reference to the football club, be it the stadium, flags, shirts, graffiti or some other nod to the Azzurri. Such regalia is noticeably out in force for We Come from Napoli, a collaboration with Massive Attack frontman 3D – otherwise known as Robert Del Naja, who was born in Bristol, comes from a Neapolitan family and supports Napoli (naturally). Liberato even namechecks a few players at the end of his second single, including captain Lorenzo Insigne.

Then there’s the fact that Liberato’s concerts always open with a remix of the Opus track Live is Life. Why? It’s the song that accompanied Diego Maradona’s famous warm-up routine before Napoli’s 1989 UEFA Cup semi-final in Munich.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Back to those videos, though. They are directed by another Neapolitan maestro in the form of Francesco Lettieri, who has made his name by putting together visuals for music but has recently helmed his first feature film. It’s a Netflix movie about fan culture in his home town – and you can probably guess who provided the soundtrack.

But wait: are director and composer one and the same? That’s one of the many theories doing the rounds as Liberato fans try to get to the bottom of the singer’s elusive identity. Other hypotheses: that he’s Emanuele Cerullo, a writer from the notorious suburb of Scampia; that he’s Italian rapper Livio Cori; or that he’s actually a team of rappers. He doesn’t make things any easier at his gigs, with three separate performers dressed as identical Liberatos having appeared on stage at the same time.

“I don’t care who Liberato is – for days I have been injecting Nove Maggio and Tu t’e scurdat’ ’e me into my eardrums.” Praise for two of Liberato’s best-known tracks from none other than Roberto Saviano, another Naples native and author of bestselling book Gomorrah. Mayor Luigi De Magistris has also declared himself a fan, suggesting in 2018 that he would be attending a concert on the Lungomare. He was in good company: the free gig ended up attracting more than 20,000 people from across Italy, smashing the expected turnout of about 6,000.

So Liberato loves Naples and the city, particularly Napoli’s fanbase, loves him right back. That’s even though – or perhaps because – they are showing their appreciation for an idea, a shared passion, as opposed to feeling a palpable connection to a fellow person. In a rare interview that he gave to the Italian version of Rolling Stone (via email rather than in person or on the phone), he endeavoured to simplify things: “I can only tell you that my name is Liberato, I was born in Naples and I make music.”

Of course, that still leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions.

“I can only tell you that my name is Liberato, I was born in Naples and I make music”

Liberato was well prepared for this pandemic: he’s been a masked man for the past four years. The enigmatic Italian singer really isn’t one for putting a face to a name: hood pulled up over his head, bandana covering all but his eyes and sunglasses on, he’s got vision yet provides no visuals.

However, the mysterious musician isn’t here to deny all your senses: he may be stingy on sightings, having taken the Banksy approach to publicity via the nagging allure of the unknowable, but he’s generous to a fault on sounds. He has been releasing songs in a steady drip, drip fashion since 2017 (including Massive Attack collaborations, more on which later), culminating in his first, eponymous album in 2019. His lyrics define eclecticism: listen closely and you’ll hear a mixture of Italian, French, Spanish and English. They contribute, on a number of levels, to an electric sound that merges trap, trip-hop and trance influences.

Another noticeable influence is musica neomelodica, or neomelodic music: it’s a style rooted in Naples that’s a fusion of Neapolitan love songs, a bit of Spanish guitar, cheesy pop and Euro-trance. And it makes perfect sense that Liberato would channel this genre (as well as throwing in some Neapolitan dialect) for this is a man who is clearly in love with Naples and, specifically, in love with Napoli.

Take a look at his music videos on YouTube and you’ll feel like you’re on a gritty sightseeing tour, with the Piazza Mercato, Quartieri Spagnoli, Lungomare and Mount Vesuvius among the hot spots that make an appearance. And in each video you’re guaranteed to see at least one reference to the football club, be it the stadium, flags, shirts, graffiti or some other nod to the Azzurri. Such regalia is noticeably out in force for We Come from Napoli, a collaboration with Massive Attack frontman 3D – otherwise known as Robert Del Naja, who was born in Bristol, comes from a Neapolitan family and supports Napoli (naturally). Liberato even namechecks a few players at the end of his second single, including captain Lorenzo Insigne.

Then there’s the fact that Liberato’s concerts always open with a remix of the Opus track Live is Life. Why? It’s the song that accompanied Diego Maradona’s famous warm-up routine before Napoli’s 1989 UEFA Cup semi-final in Munich.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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