This article brings a “drama perspective” to the analysis of Kriolu rap in Lisbon, Portugal. Kriolu is the language and identity of Cape Verdeans both at home on the archipelago nation-state located 350 miles to the west of Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean as well as among the diverse diasporic population abroad. Theoretically, the article argues that dramatic expressions of identity depend on encounters and are thus significant in spatial terms. This dimension is often lost in conventional analyses of performance. Ethnographically, a drama perspective lends itself well to creole identity formations, of which Kriolu is but one, since creole emerged from a set of colonial encounters. Questions of place and belonging continue to be points of challenge for Cape Verdean residents to claim cultural and political recognition in postcolonial Portugal. Finally, the perspective of Kriolu as drama provides a greater understanding of identity politics in the “New Europe,” since Cape Verdeans, unlike other immigrant populations, for example, Turks in Germany or Moroccans in France, have never been construed as a complete “other” to Europe. The tension between creole as hybridity and creole as difference has been productive, albeit problematic, for Kriolu speakers and potentially holds a key for those interested in alternative theories of identity formation to strategic essentialism, multiculturalism, or interculturality.

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