Beyond the News

Brazilian rap music: from dusk to dawn

Rap music in Brazil has been going through a huge transformation in this millennium and it is shifting from the violent and poor suburbs of São Paulo City to the millionaire, romantic and posh events around the country, including the World Cup Final Draw held in a multimillion venue in the Bahia State. Brazilian rap music seems to be rising from dusk to dawn!


Emicida: the most charismatic representative of Brazilian “contemporaneous rap” Photo: Janaina Castello Branco emicidamc via photopin cc

If someone who had the opportunity to follow the rhymes in the 80’s and 90’s in Brazil and return to the country in 2013 after spending the last 2 decades in Mars, he or she would be surprised to see what is going on with the rap music over there right now. Back in the days, the lyrics were focused on the poverty, violence and lack of opportunities in the country. But by the end of 2013, rap gained a new context to embrace love, peace and friendship.

The hip-hop still there, though! However, just like as we see in the US, it became quite artificial. It is now a “brand” rather than a culture itself or, as several people like to say, a religion. I, myself, had the opportunity to attend concerts in São Paulo when the black music started to get into the spotlight by the end of 90’s. At that point it was difficult to understand where the “movement” was heading at. From one side, most artists were coming from the “favelas” shooting rhymes that explained and expressed their problems, anguish and afflictions. On the other, people from different social classes let the music invade their daily lives as a way to understand the reality propagated in the suburbs.

However, above all, the true is that the “beat” was cool! That is the main reason why rap grew and gained respect in the Brazilian society! For some time, “black music” became a hit with programs in various radio stations, TV channels (in special the MTV Brasil) and concerts organized for thousands of people in football stadiums.

In 2005 I went to Australia and it was kind of strange to get to dance clubs and walk on the streets without listening to the beat of a rap song, although the access to this type of music from the US was much easier in Australia than used to be in Brazil. I remembered that my first dollars in Downunder were spent on two classic albums: Spearhead “Chocolate Super Highway” (back in my home-country 4 years earlier I had to wait for 1 month to get Spearhead “Home” album) and JazzMatazz “Vol. 2: The New Reality”, which I found in a CD Shop a few meters from my flat. Nevertheless, when I joined the local radio SBS in 2007, a first program specialized in rap music was just starting.

As I returned to Brazil in 2009 I tried to tune my favorite radio station and they were playing anything but rap. I searched for a list of hip-hop events on Internet and found nothing. Then, I asked a friend what was going on. Where was the beat?  And he answered: “The rap movement in Brazil is dying”.

Although I have been living in Europe for 4 years, my contact with Brazil has been much stronger than what used to be in Australia. Thanks to the Internet, mainly! And it is incredible to see the differences between what the rap music in Brazil used to be and what we have now. From one side it is nice to see that rappers are gaining new features beyond the stereotype “large paints, big doubled t-shirts, basketball shoes and sided-cap”. But on the other it sounds really strange to me to listen to the “beat” covered by love lyrics.

However, to be honest, this is the way how rap has been evolving in the US for the last 10 years or so. From a romantic Jay-Z to a pornographic Snoopy Dog, it is all about girls, sex and love. The rap music is reinventing itself and Brazil is following the beat: rising from the dusk of violence and poverty to the dawn of romance and wealth! Would this be just a wave that goes by or is it future of rap?


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This entry was posted on December 13, 2013 by in English, General and tagged , .
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