The Brazil Issue Vol 6 Issue 2 Words Beats & Life Journal

Page 1

BRAZIL

VOLUME 6 ISSUE No. 2


CONTENT 8

The Revolutionary Generation: Hip-hop, Resistance and Awareness in São Paulo – Brazil by Daniela F. Gomes da Silva

19 Review of O Hip-Hop Está

21

45

Responding to Skateboard P.: A Conversation on Race, Identity, and Intersectionality for the ‘New Black’ by Monique John

Morto! A História do Hip-Hop no Brasil by Toni C. & Marissel HernándezRomero

49 Bahian Hip-Hop and Diaspora:

The Carioca Bass Drop: Interview with Zuzuka Poderosa by Gina Vergel

62

25 Ninguém Fica Parado: Promoting

Social Inclusion in Rio de Janeiro’s Favelas by Hilary Marie Johnson

35 Review of Brasil Periferia(s).

A Comunicação Insurgente Do Hip-Hop by Andréia da Silva Moassab & Hildon Oliveira Santiago Carade

38 B-boy in Rio

by Nicholas Wong

42 Ellis Report:

Skillz to take to Brazil by Mikal Amin Lee a/k/a the Hired Gun

A Contextual Analysis of Coscarque’s “Scarface” by Dr. Bryce Henson

Review of Brazilian Hip Hoppers Speak from the Margins: We’s on Tape by Derek Pardue by Dr. Michele Nascimento -Kettner

66 Chayote Fruit by Kyle Potvin

67 Why I love this fucking city, Poem for Maré, and Fire in Brazil by Nicholas Wong

70 Quando Jovens Ativistas do

Hip-Hop Encontram a Política Profissional by Rosangela Carrilo Moreno & Ana Maria F. Almeida

84 Review of Emicida’s O Glorioso

Retorno de Quem Nunca Esteve Aqui by Daniel Matthews

1



LETTER FROM THE EDITOR WB&L-3

B

razil has been on the

is more than just Samba and Pelé.

international scholarship. I knew

collective consciousness and

When Melissa Castillo-Garsow

she was the best person to deliver

radar of Words Beats &

approached me about doing an issue

excellent art, poetry, and scholarship

Life and hip-hop at large for some

devoted to Brazil, I immediately

that would fit or exceed the standard

time now.

Some claim Capoeira

reflected on my college years when

we have set over our last several issues.

was an influence for b-boys. Even

a Brazilian woman introduced me

Of course, the reader is the ultimate

though there is debate surrounding

to the music of Racionais MC’s and

judge, but I truly believe we have

whether this is fact or fiction, we

translated their music and website

done hip-hop studies a service by

can say with some level of certainty

for me. It blew my mind that there

creating a resource on Brazilian hip-

that the movements are similar

were people emceeing about pro-

hop that can be referenced for many

and that similarity is due to the

Black subjects in the late 1990s in a

years to come.

fact that hip-hop and Capoeira

country that is often referred to as a

are cultural expressions pioneered

multicultural democracy.

by Afro-descendants.

Brazil was

Words Beats & Life had already

home to the World Cup and soon

screened a film about Brazilian street

will be to the Summer Olympic

art. Melissa, however, had a unique

games. Both events shine light on

skill set and qualifications to make

Brazil’s brilliant arts scene, and we

this issue an enormous success. She

intend to be part of a movement to

is a fluent Portuguese speaker and

show the world that one of earth’s

has a knack for

most populous and diverse nations

locating

excellent

Jason Nichols, PhD Editor-in-Chief

S

ince 1999 when Ja Rule filmed

and granted interviews on top rated

Rappin’ Hood, Thaíde, and others,

his first hit, “Holla Holla”

Globo TV programs such as Altas

that were most revealing about the

in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the

Horas. Unfortunately, Ja Rule both

attitude of many African American

African American rapper, born Jeffrey

arrived and left Rio with certain

rappers with regards to Brazil’s

Atkins in Queens, has remained

skewed perceptions of the country,

place in hip-hop. At this point, in

popular for many youth in Brazil. Ja

and especially its women.

It was,

2009, Ja Rule had visited Brazil at

Rule went beyond simply performing

perhaps, interview sessions with some

least six times and was preparing

in a city in a foreign country as many

of Brazil’s own well-known rappers

a 10th anniversary album to mark

artists do. He also made appearances

including Nega Gizza, Black Alien,

his success with “Holla Holla” in 3


Rio. Tellingly, Ja Rule, despite his

somehow simultaneously melodic

has become known as the “Global

experience performing in favelas

and hard; it was a version of hip-hop

Hip-Hop Nation” (GHHN), “a

(the poorest and most crime infested

I had never heard before nor even

multilingual,

neighborhoods

country),

knew existed. Finding myself in the

with

including the famous Ciudade de

midst of a large hip-hop scene outside

fluid capacity to cross borders,

Deus, described this album which

of the U.S. made me reflect on my

and a reluctance to adhere to the

featured collaborations with various

own limitations as both a thinker of

geopolitical givens of the present,”2

Brazilian artists as “real real hot, real

Latin American culture as well as a

Thaíde’s question and Ja Rule’s

sexy, like your country.”

consumer of music. As a Mexican,

response demonstrate a clear rupture

Pressed further by Afro-Brazilian

I had given very little thought to

in their approach to and view of

female rapper Nega Gizza, also of

Portuguese expressions as well as the

“hip-hop

Rio, Ja Rule advised Brazilian MCs

realities of the African Diaspora in

Ja Rule’s attitude exposes how a

to stop making music about politics

Brazil. As a U.S. American, I thought

multidirectional flow, even in hip-

or for protest but instead focus on

very little about hip-hop’s global

hop, is not only contested but often

making money.

of

the

1

an

multiethnic

international

culture.”

‘nation’ reach,

a

Moreover,

Not surprisingly,

spread, and then in a dismissive way

dismissed by U.S. artists, and that

MC Funkero and São Paulo native

that equated it with another form

very often when it comes to Brazil,

and hip-hop pioneer Thaíde followed

of cultural imperialism.

Over the

U.S. perspectives of the country’s

up by questioning the American

years, I have listened, studied, and

place in music are largely hegemonic

rapper’s knowledge and opinion of

learned more about Brazil’s music

and gendered.

Brazilian hip-hop. Despite hip-hop

history, racial politics, and Black

This issue means to flip that script

already having a three-decade history

rights movement; I have realized

by beginning a real conversation

in the South American country, Ja

that hip-hop’s origins in Brazil

about the fascinating scenes that

Rule responded, “hip-hop in Brazil is

may have been due to U.S. cultural

make up Brazilian hip-hop, both

not so great, but we’re here to help it

influence in the world, but its spread

past and present. For that reason, I

happen.”

and development in Brazil has left a

sought out and strove to incorporate

My introduction to Brazilian

unique mark on all four of hip-hop’s

scholarship and reflections from both

hip-hop was a little different than

elements, in addition to spawning a

Brazilian and U.S. based academics

Ja Rule’s. In 2005 I traveled to Belo

literary field.

and writers as well as those who

Horizonte, Brazil’s sixth largest city

Ja Rule’s attitude as well as the

move between. At the heart of this

and often overlooked artistic mecca,

questions from the Brazilian rappers

issue is the way music in today’s age

as an exchange student in my junior

demonstrate what’s at stake in terms

flows back and forth between the two

year of college. A big city with a small

like globalism, diaspora, and global

countries, influencing artists from

town feel, hip-hop was everywhere in

flows in the U.S. dominated (from

and residing in both countries to

Belo Horizonte’s older neighborhoods

the U.S. perspective) world of hip-

create new sounds that further push

as well as downtown clubs, and it was

hop. Although volumes like Global

the boundaries of the global hip-

infectious. Mixed with Samba, funk,

Linguistic Flows: Hip Hop Cultures,

hop nation. The musical journeys

and sometimes reggae, it was rapped

Youth Identities, and the Politics

of Mikal Lee and Zuzuka Poderosa,

in a poetic Portuguese that was

of Language, have explored what

both featured in this issue, are a

4


testament to the music cross-country

A História do Hip-Hop no Brasil)

even created a stream of gospel rap.

exchange stimulates.

and Andréia da Silva Moassab

Significantly though, at its heart and

In this issue you will find a dynamic

(Brasil Periferia(s): a comunicação

a still important aspect of Brazilian

mix of original scholarship, personal

insurgente do Hip-Hop), the music

hip-hop is its connection to Afro-

essay, book and music reviews,

of rising Brazilian MC Emicida, and

diasporic culture, favelas, and a youth

poetry,

social

U.S. scholar Derek Pardue (Brazilian

identity that is often politicized.

commentary. While Bryce Henson’s

Hip Hoppers Speak from the Margin:

This is what has always been so

scholarship takes us to women in

We’s on Tape). Lastly, Monique John

compelling for me, and for the

Bahia, the heart of the Brazilian

brilliantly continues the thoughts

many who have chosen to live their

African diaspora in the North, we

which begin this letter by examining

lives in Brazilian hip-hop as artists,

travel south with Rosangela Carrilo

the transnational desire for Black

researchers, or writers. I am proud to

Moreno and Ana Maria F. Almeida

women’s sexuality, as often revealed in

be the editor of the first journal issue

to examine the relationship between

the portrayal of Brazilian women. All

dedicated to this topic - I can only

activism and politics in Campinas,

of this is brought to life by Nicholas

hope it inspires much more writing,

São Paulo; Hilary Marie Johnson’s

Wong’s vivid photographs of b-boys

listening, research, creativity, and,

work returns us to the origins of

and b-girls as well as his and Kyle

most importantly, dialogue between

Brazilian hip-hop in Rio de Janeiro

Potvin’s image-driven poetics.

U.S. and Brazilian hip-hop.

to examine the development of two

As such, this issue demonstrates

very different strands, funk carioca

what I didn’t realize in 2005 - there is

and rap carioca. Daniela Gomes, in

no, one Brazilian hip-hop. Like U.S.

many ways, bridges this scholarship;

hip-hop, it has developed regional

based in both U.S. and Brazilian

flavors, integrated and incorporated

academic institutions, she is a UT-

various musical styles both from

Austin doctoral student relating her

Brazil and beyond, split along more

own personal revolution towards

political and party versions, and

photography,

and

Black awareness in São Paulo, within the context of Brazil’s hiphop trajectory. In a similar vein, the books and music reviewed traverse both countries and languages, and include works by Brazilian writers Toni C. (O Hip-Hop Está Morto!

Melissa Castillo-Garsow

Guest Editor PhD Candidate American Studies & African American Studies Yale University Melissa.Castillo-Garsow@Yale.edu www.melissacastillogarsow.com

5


Staff

Founder/Executive Director Mazi Mutafa Editor-in-Chief Jason Nichols, PhD Guest Editor Melissa Castillo-Garsow Managing Editor Kristina Byrne Culture Editor Alan King Academic Editor Jelani Favors, PhD Graphic Designer Rodney “BUCK!” Herring, Mosi Design Copy Editor Danielle Reed

Peer Reviewers

Christopher Brown, PhD – Minnesota State University, Mankato Tammy Henderson, PhD – University of Maryland, Baltimore County Andie Silva, PhD - York College Debra Castillo, PhD – Cornell University Murray Forman, PhD – Northeastern University Christopher St. Vil, PhD – University of Maryland, College Park P. Khalil Saucier, PhD – Rhode Island College Akil Houston, PhD – Ohio University Monica Miller, PhD – Lewis Clark College Robert Chester, PhD – University of Maryland, College Park Robert Tinajero, PhD – Paul Quinn College Joseph B. Richardson, Jr., PhD – University of Maryland, College Park Mary Sies, PhD – University of Maryland, College Park Jeffery McCune, PhD – Washington University Odis Johnson, Jr., PhD – University of Maryland, College Park Antonio Cuyler, PhD– Florida State University Thomas Sayers Ellis, MFA – Sarah Lawrence College Katina Rae Stapleton, PhD – Independent Scholar Nancy L. Struna, PhD – University of Maryland, College Park Mindy Chateauvert, PhD – University of Maryland, College Park

6

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by Daniela F. Gomes da Silva


“Sao Paulo Graffiti” (180 dpi) by John Patzer


by Toni C. & Marissel Hernández-Romero

Since the very beginning of the 21st century, Brazil’s peripheries have become a niche of vast artistic expression. The fusion of two art forms, music and literature, is characteristic of the new wave of Literatura Marginal,1 which conveys the complex realities of social segregation, violence, and oppression in the metropolis. It is in this context of periphery and Literatura Marginal that the novel O Hip-Hop Está Morto! A História do Hip-Hop no Brasil (2012) by the Brazilian multimedia artist and writer Toni C. can be placed. Toni C., author of three other books

marginality and hip-hop culture. The

for dummies – for those interested in

about hip-hop in the periphery, joins

book narrates the story of Brazilian

the topic.

his parceiros Ferréz, Eduardo Dum

hip-hop (O Hip-Hop Verde-Amarelo)

As if Toni C. consciously intended

Dum, and Gato Preto, among others,

and its influences outside Brazil. It

to establish a dialogue and sneak

to bring us an attention-grabbing text

can be considered an introductory

inside the academic world, the story

that immerses the reader in Brazilian

guide to culture – Brazilian hip-hop

is developed like an authorized


Review of O Hip-Hop Está Morto! A História do Hip-Hop no Brasil by Toni C.

biography by a college student,

and navigate a big city like São Paulo.

industry, as has happened in the

Samara, written about hip-hop.

The transgression of “as fronteiras2”

U.S.,

Through Samara’s research and the

allows the story to develop between

of hip-hop through the Brazilian

relationship that grows between her

fiction and real facts, or in the writer’s

government’s

and hip-hop, the reader learns about

own words, “obra de ficção com

conceived in 2003. Certainly, Toni

its history and context, its legacy and

drama verdadeiro.3” Through this

C.’s text proves that hip-hop is still

implications, and the who’s who of

character, the political engagement

alive, and will be for generations to

the most renowned hip-hoppers in

and social commitment of the writer

come, though not without suffering

Brazil. Throughout the book, the

is noticeable. Following Brazilian

transformations that reflect social and

writer points out the recent trend

literary tradition, the main character,

political struggles.

in academia to research everything

hip-hop, takes the opportunity to

related to hip-hop culture.

speak out, denouncing situations that

O Hip-Hop Está Morto! A História do

Toni C.’s text is structured using

bother the Brazilian population, such

Hip-Hop no Brasil. (2012). by Toni

elements of documentary, biography,

as social inequality, urban violence,

C. Review by Marissel Hernández-

and rap music, in a writing that

and gender issues.

Romero. São Paulo: LiteraRUA, 145

presents its own rules. The context-

In this books there are two kinds

pp. ISBN: 978-85-910253-2-9

specific use of colloquial words,

of temporality: the local, associated

slang, and the internal structure

with the reality of the periphery,

Marissel

of the text can be understood as a

the collective memory, and social

originally from Puerto Rico, is

strategy of the author to position

problems; and the global, associated

currently a PhD candidate in Luso-

himself, and other marginal writers,

4

with the dream of a better life.

Brazilian Literature at The Graduate

as the only ones in the literary realm

This dual temporality engages the

Center, CUNY. She currently teaches

capable of legitimately valuing topics

reader, oscillating between the local

Portuguese and Brazilian Literature

and particularities intrinsic to the

implications of a bigger social context

and Culture at the University of

population living in the peripheries.

and the possibility of re-imagining it.

Puerto Rico. She is working on the

In this sense, experience in itself

The title, O Hip Hop esta Morto!,

Spanish translation of the novel Glória

becomes an artifact to validate,

can be misleading for the reader,

Sombria by Brazilian writer Roberto

legitimize, and even portray popular

suggesting

Causo. Her scholarly interests range

knowledge. Toni

disappearance

of

the

institutionalization sponsor

programs

5

Hernández-Romero,

narratives

the musical genre and/or culture.

from

commit and enact the aesthetics

Nonetheless, Hip Hop is dead --also

Literature, Literatura Marginal, Afro-

of hip-hop, with a poetry of their

the title track of Nas’ 2006 album--

Luso-Brazilian Literature, and Latin

own, reflecting its circumstances and

raises internal conflicts in hip-hop

American Sci-Fi to Latin America

musicality.

culture,

and Caribbean culture.

The author ingeniously gives life to

interests in the music and lifestyle.

the genre hip-hop, the main character

The conceptual death of hip-hop

of this book, as a marginalized,

could be interpreted from the

“forever young” guy who, thanks to

appropriation and commercialization

his influences, can cross boundaries

of hip-hop by the mainstream music

20

C.’s

the

or

problematizing

outsider

Contemporary

Brazilian



The Carioca Bass Drop: Interview with Zuzuka Poderosa by Gina Vergel

I

t’s early afternoon on a Saturday on a hip rooftop restaurant/bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Zuzuka Poderosa is methodically setting up the mixology

supplies. The Brazilian vocalist/MC of a special brand she coined ‘carioca bass’ was in her native Brazil just weeks earlier (January/February 2014), but now it’s back to her

“I would say I was more influenced by freestyle and Miami bass, which is still hip-hop, basically.”

hustle and bustle lifestyle in New York City. Zuzuka has been in the music game for quite some time

New York right when Diplo and MIA blew up. But it’s

now, and like a fine wine, she seems to get better with

impossible to keep it original because I was so involved

time. Born in Vitoria, Brazil, Zuzuka Poderosa grew up in

in the club scene, since I first arrived in New York. It was

Rio and spent her formative years in the West Indies. She

always heavy bass influenced starting from dancehall to

later moved to Brooklyn to study jazz vocal improvisation

drum-n-bass and jungle music.

and work at her poetry. Instantly taking to New York/

What is your first memory of hip-hop?

Brooklyn’s global bass dance scene, she began DJing, and

I heard it in Brazil; I was pretty young. When I was

in 2007, Zuzuka Poderosa the vocalist was born.

growing up, we were more influenced by artists like Afrika

For the past few years, she’s been building up the

Bambaataa, and Miami bass and freestyle musical styles,

underground baile funk, moombahton and global bass

and those are all influenced somewhat by hip-hop. I

scene in New York. She raps and sings in Portuguese,

would say I was more influenced by freestyle and Miami

Spanish, English, and, as she likes to say, body language,

bass, which is still hip-hop, basically. I remember rappers

musing provocatively and sarcastically over boomy electric

in Brazil used to rap over freestyle beats. I still have the

kick drums and Latin percussion. With a wildly engaging

records.

show, she conjures images of hot summer dance parties on

You have had a very unique upbringing. Can you

gritty Brooklyn rooftops or up in the hills overlooking the

speak a little about how you were raised, what

sea. She’s taken her act on the road, performing in Europe,

you were listening to, and what influenced you

Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, a variety of United States, and

musically?

Canada.

I grew up with and Indonesian father and Brazilian mother,

The year 2011 was a breakout year for Zuzuka’s style of

we traveled a lot since I was young. In my teen years, I

powerful and colorful electronic dance music. She released

spent time in Rio and the West Indies. These times were

an EP with Bay Area producer, Kush Arora, trying to add

key to my music inspiration and reflect who I am today.

some global/international flavor to the electronic dance

Baile funk and dancehall. Coming to New York right after

music (EDM) world.

connected me to the club music scene, and when you carry

I recently sat down at a Brooklyn bar where Zuzuka

this music history with you, you make something out of it!

earns her living to ask her about her recent trip to Brazil,

That’s what #CariocaBass is for me.

how her music is evolving, and what the future holds.

What is the hip-hop scene in Brazil like today?

What is carioca bass? How is it different from Rio

Brazil has always been big into hip-hop, especially in São

de Janeiro baile funk or funk carioca?

Paulo; we have amazing artists coming out of there. But

Carioca bass is my past and present music experiences.

right now I think hip-hop has been even more influential.

I started as an MC doing Baile funk styles with DJs in

When I’m there and I listen to the beats and how they

22



Ninguém Fica Parado: Promoting Social Inclusion in Rio de Janeiro’s Favelas1 by Hilary Marie Johnson

Funk carioca,

2

funk carioca and rap carioca were both born in the midst of a Black political movement that occurred during the

a hotly contested and highly provocative genre of music

harshest years of the military dictatorship. They both

originating from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, has been

offered to give voice to a society of people who were usually

making its mark on Brazilian society for decades. Often

silenced and often forgotten, and this voice was born with

characterized as solely portraying a sensationalized reality

the rare opportunity to “create new symbols of ethnicity

of life in Rio’s periphery, the impact this genre of music has

in accordance with their social experience” (Hanchard,

on social inclusion discourse in Brazil is possibly largely

1994, p. 111). The roots of both genres of music are

overlooked. The strong, knee-jerk reaction elicited by funk

undeniably political and in many ways rebellious, but their

carioca’s perceived explicit glorification of the violent and

evolutionary paths appear markedly different.

hyper-sexualized lifestyle in the favelas is perhaps one of

Rap carioca continues to have more socially conscious

the most effective tools in provoking dialogue about the

lyrical content, aiming to assert a strong, unified voice

role of the poor/Black person in Brazil. The extent to

against the harshest of living conditions in the favelas.

which the jolting nature of such a raw depiction of various

Funk carioca has adopted a style to allude to grave social ills

aspects of life in Rio’s favelas provokes this unfiltered

in a more light-hearted manner, focusing on the “lighter

reaction, most of the time in an indirect way, could very

side” of favela life, from new love to a bad hairstyle. When

well encourage a more honest and open dialogue regarding

analyzing major hits of rap carioca, the political message

social inclusion in larger Brazilian society.

embedded in nearly each and every song is strikingly clear,

Brazilian hip-hop has also been instrumental in

and yet, when juxtaposing the reaction that both genres

increasing visibility of the inner workings of the favela,

generate from their audiences, it would seem that funk

an essential space of cultural production that is quickly

carioca is more politically provocative. What is it about

disregarded because of the negative connotations it usually

both funk carioca and rap carioca that engages people in

evokes. Hip-hop in Brazil, perceived by many to be a

meaningful dialogues, and what differentiates “political

much more militant approach toward social inclusion than

music” from “music with an [unintended] political effect”?

funk carioca, has been successful in directly identifying the

An investigation seeks to pinpoint subtle yet significant

major problems favelados3 face on a daily basis. Its focus

differences in the presentation of the violent reality of

on formally denouncing the violence, the drug-trafficking,

the favela in Rio de Janeiro through the close reading

and the quasi-war zone life that many inhabitants of the

and interpretation of the musical composition and lyrical

favela are forced to live in has undoubtedly shed light on a

content of two classic funk carioca and rap carioca hits. This

major component of Brazil’s largest cities.

investigation aims for a more informed understanding of

Funk carioca and rap carioca have very similar origins

the reaction that each portrayal of the carioca periphery

and histories. Both were born around the same time out

provokes.

of the emergence of Black Soul, a musical manifestation

Funk carioca, though born from Black Soul, has a

of the Movimento Negro5 in which “people of African

distinctly unique sound. Often described as a mix between

descent in one national-cultural context appropriated

James Brown-inspired funk and Miami bass, funk carioca’s

some of the symbolic and material forms from another”

rhythms and musical blending know no boundaries. A

(Hanchard, 1994, p. 111). Almost exclusively a bi-product

medley of “heavy, bass-driven electronic blend of beats,

of the rise of hip-hop, funk, and soul in the United States,

sound effects, and samples,” it is incredibly rich and

4

26



Review of Brasil Periferia(s): a Comunicação Insurgente do Hip-Hop by Andréia da Silva Moassab

T

o embrace people’s outlook, their relation

Besides

to life, to perceive their vision of their

observations are based on, in her words: “field research,

this

formal

background,

the

author’s

environment, a basic knowledge of the social

beyond participant observation, in which the researcher

sciences is necessary. For many years, this understanding

finds himself personally exposed to the phenomenon

has been shared by sociologists, anthropologists, political

that will be analyzed, allowed an enduring collaboration

scientists, as well as other social researchers. The goals of

in a calm coexistence with hip hoppers and residents

Brasil Periferia(s): a Comunicação Insurgente do Hip-Hop

of the south zone of São Paulo, notably at Monte Azul

by Andréia Moassab, coincide in the same field. In this

and, in a lesser intensity, but not least, the Jd. Iporanga”

case, the object chosen by the author – the voice that needs

(Moassab, 2011). She notes her involvement cannot be

to be heard and understood – is the hip-hop movement.

considered “participant observation,” inasmuch as the ties

In general terms, Moassab presents hip-hop as a counter-

of friendship she established overcame the typical research

hegemonic communication, capable of empowerment

relations. Nevertheless, in my opinion, she did not

and social emancipation of the population inhabiting the

demonstrate the fieldwork method. Throughout the entire

periphery of large cities. When we talk about resistance, we

book she used materials collected from secondary sources

have to grasp the context of where this movement emerges

(such as interviews, writings and lyrics gathered amongst

from. According to the author, by the 1970s, and up

the leaders and most popular names in hip-hop). To such

through the 1980s, political transitions in Latin American

an extent, she ends up not paying that much attention to

countries from dictatorships to progressively democratic

her own experience in the periphery of São Paulo. This is

regimes have been followed by economic trends that

the first problem of the work.

dramatically increased poverty. Through a solid theoretical

In the first part of her analysis, the author, on the one

framework, echoing Boaventura Santos (2005), Gilles

hand, states that hip-hop is a type of production from

Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1995), Michel Foucault

squatter settlements; on the other hand, she withdraws

(1979), Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt (2001), and

it from the sociology of the youth sphere (the domain

Gabriel Tarde (2003), Moassab underlines the rise of

in which this has been scrutinized), relocating it in the

neoliberalism and globalization while contextualizing

social movement’s framework. And what is the place

these processes and their consequences.

of this movement? In her perspective, hip-hop must be

In Brazil, these processes were accompanied by the

understood in the context of the housing movements and

emergence of several social movements that erupted in

their struggle for urban reform. In this state of affairs,

low-income urban areas; all the voices spoke against

hip-hoppers raise their voices against urban segregation,

inequalities and misfortunes provided by a capitalist

evoking the willingness of poor people to integrate in the

economy. In this sense, Moassab points out, the struggle of

city. Although Moassab finds herself among discursive

hip-hop – in favor of better living conditions and against

formations operating to build another approach to life in

prejudice toward populations dwelling in peripheral

the peripheries – going beyond the violence and misery

neighborhoods – must be read in broad outlines, namely:

shown day by day in the mass media to focus on the culture

the milieu of fights raised by other sorts of stigmatized

and stories of the people, their endeavors, their music, and

classes of people and social sectors such as the homeless,

their lifestyles – she has decided to disregard hip-hop tied

the landless, community radio, free pass, those affected by

to the record industry. In her position, this production is

dams, collectors of recyclable materials, and so on.

attached to the hegemonic means of communications and

36


B-girl Amanda Baroni Lopes practices a freeze in the corner. According to her, she is one of a handful of serious b-girls in the city, and despite ongoing gender issues within the culture, she says her 7 years in the culture have been fulfilling.

B-Boy In Rio Photos by

0

0.3

13

Nicholas Wong

51

01

5


Dancers gather every Thursday night at the Fundação do Progresso cultural center in the Lapa district of Rio de Janeiro to practice. The space is reserved for dance sessions and graffiti classes throughout the week. B-boys set up the music system and song selection before their practice session.”

Iago Henrique Bastos Souzu, a.k.a b-boy/MC Souzu finishes a chair freeze during battle.


by Mikal Amin Lee a/k/a the Hired Gun


efore I ever touched down in Brazil, the

Imagine a cipher of emcees and musicians playing guitars

last thing I associated the country with

and berimbau – vibing, laughing and having fun. As we

was hip-hop. Carnival. Samba. City of

took turns spitting lyrics in our native tongues, Davi,

God. Futbol. That was the extent of

one of the emcees of URS Fundão (which I learned

what I believed Brazil to be about.

roughly translates to Union of Knowledge and Respect) broke down what his crew meant to each other. First and

I had heard of artists from Brazil (I’ve met and performed

foremost, they were family. He spoke of learning about

with São Paulo hip-hop artists Eli Efi and DJ Laylo), but

hip-hop, and how listening to Public Enemy and N.W.A.

it was very few. Still, when a good friend Clement (a.k.a.

was the catalyst for him to acquire “knowledge.” As

DJ Zajazza) approached me and one of my partners, Rabbi

the cipher grew, and I listened to Davi break down his

Darkside, about doing a brief two week tour in Brazil,

experiences, I was moved by how much of it mirrored

the opportunity was too good to pass up. Zajazza had

mine and my own crew’s experiences.

previously lived in the area known as Rio Grande Do Sul

I was reminded that hip-hop is community. It is how

for three years as a translator. During that stint, he’d found

we relate, build, and get sharper as artists. It is how we

and befriended a crew, URS Fundão, which had helped

maintain and sustain the love – through gathering, sharing,

to pioneer and maintain a growing independent hip-hop

and competing. It’s about sitting down to chop it up,

movement in the college town of Passo Fundo. Acting as

and channeling that energy positively and creatively into

local promoters and booking agents, they’d be able to get

music, story, dance, and song. Listening to the traditional

us a few gigs in their city. With the help of some friends

instruments crank out beats as we each dropped rhymes

from another city, Porto Alegre, which is about four hours

was surreal, two cultures colliding – the rhythms of Samba

south, they’d be able to get us a few more. What we didn’t

and the boom bap of hip-hop coming together. And this

realize is that we would be breaking new ground, and

was only the beginning.

creating a project that to this day, is still unprecedented

As is tradition, when a crew hosts another and vibes,

in hip-hop.

it’s only natural to make music. Inside the studio of their

In 2009, during the week of Carnival we descended

seventeen year-old producer/engineer E.T. (pronounced

upon Passo Fundo prepared to start tour. Over the course

EH TEE) was a small bedroom converted into a sound

of the first few days it was evident that hip-hop culture

room, a makeshift wooden booth, complete with

had made an impression on Brazil. The neighborhood we

soundproofing, a mic, and equipped with fruity loops

were staying in was nicknamed “Wesside,” famous nineties

production software! In a matter of hours, we had whipped

shout out to Los Angeles acts such as WC, Mad Circle,

up a couple of dope tracks. Drinking water, coca cola, and

and Ice Cube. We found graffiti tags that said “Brooklyn”

braving the 90 degree heat in the un-air conditioned space,

and a Tupac mural on bare adobe-colored brick buildings.

we listened to beats, took pictures, laughed, and began the

The show we did the following night was an amazing

process of putting two songs together, “Não Tem Pres Yo

experience. We rocked what was the equivalent of a house

Não” and “Somos Assim” (“Priceless Moments” and “We’re

party. However, these markers were barely a glimpse

Like This”). “Priceless Moments” is the crew’s shout-out,

into the footprint that hip-hop had left here. It was the

while “We’re Like This” featured each emcee’s response to

following evening that showed us how universal this

the question, “Why am I an emcee?” These two tracks

culture is.

would be the catalyst for Skillz to Take Brazil, the name 43


by Monique John


Responding to Skateboard P.: A Conversation on Race, Identity, and Intersectionality for the ‘New Black’ by Monique John

I

n an interview with Oprah Winfrey, hip-hop artist

hurtful to women within his race, given Black women’s

and producer Pharrell Williams expresses his beliefs

already limited visibility in the media. Unbeknownst to his

on race in response to the criticism surrounding his

critics, one of the women featured on the cover was Black.

choice to feature white/light-skinned models on the cover

“I recognize that there are issues...[But] I don’t live my

of his 2014 album, G I R L. Throughout the conversation,

life trying to be Black...We look at things like that but

Pharrell equates Blackness to a mentality, and suggests that

I don’t allow that to run my life. Is there a lot of Black

his critics are the bearers of their own racial oppression. I

inequality? Absolutely. But I’m the main one waving the

respond to Pharrell’s comments by arguing that Blackness

flag” (P. Williams interview).

cannot be equated to anything, as it is an abstract concept

There were a lot of things I enjoyed about Pharrell’s

that is highly subjective to the individual discussing it or

comments during his interview with Oprah: the story of

labeled by it. Furthermore, I argue that criticisms of racial

how he fell in love with his wife; the reasons why he named

representation in the media cannot be trivialized because

his son “Rocket”; the things he learned from watching

of the weight race holds as a form of social currency,

those alongside him in the rap game. What is more, I

intersecting with gender, class, and sexuality. To illustrate

disagreed with the criticism Pharrell faced for his album

the scope and complexity of racial implications, I refer

cover. I found the idea that Pharrell needed to feature a

to the findings revealed in Suzana Maia’s 2012 book,

diverse portrayal of female props for his album cover to

Transnational Desires: Brazilian Erotic Dancers in New

be a ridiculous expectation. Hordes of white and Black

York. Drawing from Maia’s conclusions on how middle

men have shown time after time that they have no interest

class morenas are impacted by stereotypes of Black bodies

in celebrating the beauty and humanity of dark-skinned

and sexuality in their sex work, I call for conversations

Black women. Therefore, I could not see why people

about race to be seriously and directly engaged by everyone

thought Pharrell would be any different.

regardless of how central his/her racial background is to his

In any case, Pharrell’s comments to Oprah about race

overall identity.

stuck (or stung) in a way that his others had not. I had

Keywords: Pharrell, Brazilian women, race, identity, exotic dancing

never defined Blackness as a mentality, or associated it with blame. To me, it is not possible to do so. Reading and writing about Black culture for the past eight years have

“The new Black doesn’t blame other races for our issues.

taught me one thing: Blackness is nothing. It is just an

The new Black realizes that it’s not a pigmentation, it’s

abstract idea that we throw around to classify people in a

a mentality” (P. Williams, television interview, April 13,

way that makes us feel comfortable. Still, we cannot reduce

2014).

Blackness and debates about race to being divisive tools

Pharrell Williams sits in his fold-up chair across from

for petty conflict. We all use race and ethnicity, specifically

Oprah Winfrey in a beautiful white studio. The renowned

Blackness, as a form of social currency. Pharrell’s response

producer and hip-hop artist is responding to the recent

to critics struck me as hopelessly flippant because racial

controversy surrounding the cover for his new album,

identity is a large part of how we understand, articulate,

G I R L. Pharrell, an African American, was accused of

and perform our relationships to gender, sexuality, class,

submitting to colorism, as he stood alongside three fair-

and, most importantly, bodies.

skinned women for the cover photo. Critics argued that

The hallmark of my experience researching Black life

Pharrell’s failure to feature darker-skinned models was

has been an ongoing project examining the strip club chic

46


Baina image credit: Jorge Brazil


Bahian Hip-Hop and Diaspora: A Contextual Analysis of Coscarque’s “Scarface” by Dr. Bryce Henson

I

n Brazil, race is a gendered construct through the flesh of Black women’s bodies to produce Blackness as both biology and culture. Racial discourses fail to situate race and racism as a series of social relations

that also encapsulate space and class. Analyzing the 2013 single “Scarface” by Bahian rapper, Coscarque, within a African Diaspora studies framework, this article illustrates how Bahian hip-hop ruptures dominant constructions of race and resituates race within relations of dominance, dehumanization, and social death. Bahian hip-hop artists, such as Coscarque, intervene in the symbolic and material constructions of racial dominance and reimagine an alternative world from the lived experience

This comparison again naturalizes race as biology and culture through Black women’s bodies and the notion that they are bearers of both children and culture. In effect, it is Black women’s bodies in the favela that produce a Black threat to the Brazilian public and thus are culpable for violence and disorder in Brazil.

Pinho, 2010). These Africanisms, produced as having

of Blackness in Brazil. As such, hip-hop culture and rap

essentialist properties that predate Brazil, are then rooted

music illustrate new possibilities of decolonization in

into the identities, bodies, and souls of Black people in

Keywords: hip-hop, Bahia, race, African Diaspora, space

Brazil and provide the meanings and histories by which Black people come to know themselves. This affirmation of Blackness in Brazil is rooted in the idea that race is

Brazil.

simply both biology and culture. This is exemplified

The baiana is one of Brazil’s most iconic symbols in

in the passage of Black identity and meaning through

its register of Afro-Brazilian culture and ethnicity. She is

the body of the baiana, which reinforces that Black

a figure representative of Brazil’s racially and culturally

women must be the bearers of future Black children in

most African region: the northeastern region of Bahia,

Brazil as well as the bearers of culture. However positive

which includes the city of Salvador and the larger

this representation may be, it swiftly falls into traps of

Recôncavo area. The baiana is positioned as foundational

essentialism that race operates within a vacuum of society

to fostering pride and self-esteem for Black1 people.

at large. As social scientists have illustrated, the state’s

Rather than an exotic mixed race mulata, the baiana, and

support of the baiana and the preservation of the pure

her various gendered configurations, represents a Black

Africanisms she has come to represent have become part

identity that is rooted in the celebration, preservation,

of national narratives that support Brazil’s claim of being

and (re)production of a pure Africa in Brazil (P. de S.

a mixed race nation founded on African cultural heritage

50


by Derek Pardue & Dr. Michele Nascimento-Kettner


R

ecently, on a famous TV show in Brazil, the

in Brazilian Portuguese, which relates to the self-

acclaimed hip-hop artist Rappin Hood declared

representation of hip-hoppers on the recordings. By using

that Brazilian hip-hop has the face of a true

literal translations or by keeping the words in Portuguese,

Brazilian, saying “Our hip-hop has nothing to do with

Pardue translates the awkwardness and inadequacy of

the hip-hop from the U.S.” This statement cuts to the

analyzing a culture with foreign words. Words such as

core of Derek Pardue’s reflections in his book Brazilian

periferia, negritude, and mano1 are used as title headings

Hip Hoppers Speak from the Margin. We’s on Tape.

and hint at the style of narrative to come.

While there is no specific chapter dedicated to the topic

In the first chapter, “Introduction and Frame,” Pardue

of globalization and its alleged perils of engendering

establishes important guidelines to define hip-hop and its

homogenous global cultures, Pardue argues throughout the

elements. Hip-hop is a set of ideologies that creates an

book that Brazilian hip-hop’s transnational connections

alternative system; it has its own ethics and aesthetics and

were positive since it has been able to engage in distinctive

launches a process of transformation in individuals and

socio-political dynamics and creative expressions. In the

society as a whole. Indeed, hip-hop’s capacity to enable

epilogue, he rejects “the notion of the U.S. practices

major changes in Brazilian society was a determinant

as templates” (p. 163) when referring to hip-hop as a

factor in his writing the book. Pardue believes this social

transnational phenomenon.

component of Brazilian hip-hop has enabled young people

Pardue delves into the uniqueness of Brazilian hip-hop

to redefine hip-hop culture in the country.

through the concept of ethnography as mediation. He is

The second chapter gives readers a historiographical

both author and agent in the act of (re)presentation of

account of the beginnings of hip-hop in the mid-80s in Rio

hip-hop and each chapter provides a “screening” of himself

de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Brasília. It also touches upon

and his experiences in the making of the book. While in

some important issues concerning urbanization, media,

a meeting with MNU, the Unified Black Movement of

identity formation, and political mobilization as intricate

Brazil, it is inevitable for the reader to wonder if Pardue’s

pillars in the making of hip-hop. In the construction of

experience determined the overall negative tone towards

identity and political mobilization, for instance, Pardue

MNU. He informs the reader: “As a white male from the

shows how young Brazilians emphasize being informed,

United States, my representation of Brazilian blackness is

or informação, as a gateway to building social-political

necessarily problematic” (p. 92).

awareness or consciência. Thus, informação and consciência

A fortunate consequence of Pardue’s mediated

are elements that connect the youth and give them a

ethnography is the inclusion of a plethora of different

much-needed sense of identity. According to Pardue, the

narrative voices in each chapter, such as hip-hoppers,

act of joining a hip-hop posse propels the destruction of

Brazilian scholars, literary writers, and community

poverty stereotypes, enabling young people to become the

activists. Hearing those voices collaborate to form a

authority figures in their own identity discourse.

holistic perspective proved to be an interesting and

There is no hip-hop without the physical space of the

readable narrative choice for the dense cultural study-

local communities, or periferias. Chapter 3 deepens the

based research.

notion of space as a locus of social change and rappers’

Pardue is also highly aware of linguistic subtleties in

narrative strategies. Periferia is viewed as a place and

the process of knowledge mediation. “We’s on tape” is a

ideology and its expansion parallels the popularity of hip-

literal translation of “Nós na fita,” a colloquial expression

hop culture in Brazil. The analysis of the trope of violence 63


69


Quando Jovens Ativistas do Hip-Hop Encontram a Política Profissional by Rosangela Carrilo Moreno & Ana Maria F. Almeida O movimento hip-hop se constituiu, no Brasil e em outros lugares, como um espaço de ativismo ao mesmo tempo artístico e político. Por causa disso, o movimento tornou-se objeto da atenção de políticos profissionais em busca de apoio eleitoral. Esse artigo discute os efeitos ambíguos da aliança estabelecida entre um grupo de jovens artistas do hip-hop e políticos profissionais durante a campanha para eleição do prefeito em Campinas, grande cidade industrial do estado de São Paulo, no início dos anos 2000. Apoiando-se em longas entrevistas com os principais protagonistas do movimento e com alguns outros membros do grupo, durante as quais se solicitou aos jovens um retorno reflexivo sobre as experiências que vivenciaram nesse período, o artigo relata a maneira como a aproximação com os políticos profissionais permitiu aos jovens contribuir ativamente para construção do “movimento hip-hop” da cidade e ser percebidos como seus portavozes. Progressivamente, no entanto, a crescente dependência da estrutura partidária atrapalhou sua produção artística e, ao mesmo tempo, deu margem a disputas internas que culminaram com a dissolução do grupo. A partir da análise desse caso, o artigo oferece uma contribuição particular para o estudo das possibilidades e limites associados à interdependência entre movimentos sociais e partidos políticos estabelecidos. Palavras-chave: Militância, Análise processual do engajamento, Movimento hip-hop.


by Daniel Matthews


B

razilian rapper Emicida raps about his

class, but also gender identity; São Paulo is the home of

ambition as an artist, but he is a creative

the largest gay pride parade in the world. The city’s tallest

force, and will not compromise his beliefs

skyscrapers reach toward the atmosphere from the depths

in order to be successful. What does he

of a colonial past, mirroring the ambition of the people

believe? That hip-hop is a way to rise above the poverty

who live below. Like those skyscrapers, Emicida’s music

of his hometown of São Paulo. That Brazilian rappers have

reaches upward with optimism, and with a willingness

much to offer hip-hop, and all of music. That a musician

to confront the past and present injustices that haunt

can make honest music, distribute it himself, cultivate a

Brazil. Being Black in São Paulo, Emicida experienced

fanbase through the internet, and make a living on his

racism from an early age. He believes Brazil is at a turning

own without the support of a major label. He is rooted

point, an important opportunity for the country to face its

in hip-hop, a culture that has always been revolutionary,

demons and make progress.

politically as well as musically, one that excels at making

Growing up, Emicida’s family struggled through long

something extraordinary with minimal resources. With

periods of unemployment and hunger. His mother worked

equal parts frankness and optimism, skill and confidence,

as a maid during the day and studied at night, while his

Emicida is at once a DIY pioneer and heir to hip-hop’s

father was a community activist. Intertwined with this

localized roots.

thread of long hours was music – his father was an old

Emicida, born Leandro Roque de Oliveira, makes

school DJ at Black music parties in the ghettos, a fact oft-

hip-hop that connects him to the legacy of the first street

repeated to him after his father’s death when he was young.

chroniclers and musical historians of New York’s five

Emicida’s introduction to music came from his father’s

boroughs. His sound and confidence as a rapper were

old records, which included James Brown, among other

forged in rap battles all around São Paulo. In these battles

African American funk and soul records.

he earned the nicknames “murderer” and “killer” because

Emicida first started creating his own music somewhat

of the way he overwhelmed and crushed his opponents.

out of necessity: he had no CDs. He would sing church

The name Emicida is a combination of the words Emcee

hymns and soon began improvising his own lyrics. He also

and homicide. These days, he has fashioned the name

had an early fascination with the written word, which he

into an acronym, E.M.I.C.I.D.A.: Enquanto Minha

attributes to his mother’s books and a broken television. A

Imaginação Compor Insanidades Domino A Arte, which

young Emicida made his own comic books throughout his

translates roughly as “While my imagination composes

childhood, adding his original poetry to the illustrations.

insanities I dominate the art.”

He rapped nonsense English words at first, later

Emicida was born in 1985, when hip-hop wasn’t far

transitioning to Portuguese entirely. As Brazil’s national

from its origins at school yard jams under South Bronx

rap scene began to take off, he moved on to parody raps of

street lamps. Born just North of São Paulo, Brazil, Emicida

artists like Pepeu and Thaíde until he could make his own.

knows the struggles of poverty and life in the ghetto as well

Ultimately, he would integrate his poetry into his street

as any. São Paulo is one of Brazil’s largest urban centers,

raps. At home, he recorded on a simple set up, a tape deck

and home to a constant exchange of identities and creative

with a small keyboard.

forces; the city is filled with art museums and hosts the

Years later, Emicida developed his penchant for

vibrant hip-hop scene that birthed Emicida. Its confluence

improvisation into formidable skills as a rapper in street

of identities expresses itself through not only ethnicity and

battles. His introduction to the local rap scene came 85


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