YOUTH AND BLACK IDENTITY IN THE BRAZILIAN RAP MUSIC
Salloma Salomão Jovino da Silva, Dezembro de 2002.
Before the Rap music in Brazil has arisen, in the early eighties, the music identified with African roots could be divided in two distinct groups: one based on the rural tradition and another of urban origin.
With significant regional differences, rural musical characteristics reflected a cultural aspect of the Brazilian society in which the majority of the population lived predominantly in the country side until the fifties.
Among those musical manifestations, we can include Candombe and Jongo from Minas Gerais, Maracatus from Pernambuco; Tambor de Crioula from Pará and Maranhão; Samba and Batuque from São Paulo; Chula and Jongo from Rio de Janeiro. All those musical manifestations were added to the ones related to the religious traditions like Candomblé, Umbanda and other catholic religiousness influenced by African traditions. They all came from oral tradition and some of them are still present in popular festivities in some regions.
In the second group of black musical manifestations, we find the ones with urban characteristics which appeared with the process of industrialization and urbanization that started in the beginning of the century, characterized by more professional artists and segments related to them. In this group we can include a musical style called “Choro or Chorinho” which appeared in the beginning of this century, as a kind of instrumental music, that valorizes the virtuousness and the improvisation, starting from a theme of complex harmonic base.
Many modalities of “Sambas Urbanos” characterize another style, whose social prestige was possible by the popularization of the radio in the thirties, by the consolidation of the international record industry and portable phonographs popularized by the growing industrialization.
Samba is a musical style which has been serving the industries of tourism and showbiz, generating, during Carnival time, a significant capital gain for the country. However, it is hidden, behind the tropical exotic image of “Brazil of Samba and Carnival”, a hard reality of segregation and apartheid faced by the majority of black and dark-skinned population.
Before the Rap, some black Brazilian artists internationally known had already used their tunes to denunciate the inequalities that the blacks are daily submitted to. However, those artists, generically identified by the style of the so-called MPB, Brazilian Popular Music, among them Djavan, Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil, used to make a music with urban characteristics quite in harmony with the international tendencies, an amalgam of Jazz, Rock, Soul, Funk and Reggae added to some popular urban rhythms. Nevertheless, those styles, even today, are still only well accepted and listened by university students and by the white middle class population from the most industrialized cities from the south and southeast regions of Brazil.
The international association of samba to a symbol of the Brazilian cultural identification has been built much more thanks to the industry of tourism than to any other factor. A prove of it is that there are no blacks among the important entrepreneurs in the tourism and showbiz fields in cities like Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Recife, the most important centers responsible for Carnival organization and for promoting the urban musical styles played in the Carnival parties.
The social and ethnic harmonic image of Brazil drastically contrasts with the reality, mainly having in mind the statistical data of violence against the black and dark-skinned population in the big cities. Those data show as the black youth, specifically males aging 14 to 22, are the main victims of murders.
90% of the Rap lyrics, composed in the city of São Paulo, have as their themes such violence, that commonly takes place with the State connivance and omission and many times by the State determination, as could be verified through the police violent actions, constantly denounced by the population but rarely punished by the authorities.
The first focus of the Rap music in Brazil showed up in downtown São Paulo, with the black boys employed as office-boys in the companies spending their lunch break improvising some break dance choreography and some verses for the tunes, using a percussion base played in their tape-records or imitating the rhythm of the drums using their voices.
Rap style arose in the early eighties in U.S.A., under the influence of the Jamaican DJs in the city of New York. They were veterans in improvising over a record player since the sixties. In Brazil, Rap arose from the Break, Rap dancing expression and that since the middle eighties already had its adepts, listeners, practitioners and dancers in the city of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Like in the U.S.A., initially the musical base of the Brazilian Rap was the soul music, musical style which caused a true behavior revolution among the black youth in the big Brazilian cities in the seventies.
From the period of the “Black-soul Movement” we had left the “ball teams”, group of young people who organized the dancing events where the soul music was played. Those balls used to happen, and still take place, in clubs, hangars and halls spread all over the ghettos of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
When the black wave was gone, those “teams” remained and those black young people who would make some extra money during the weekends, little by little became the entrepreneurs of entertainment. As playing soccer and dancing are the most accessible ways of leisure for the poor people, their business prospered and, in the early nineties, those teams start to record, edit, distribute and divulge their own artists and records, taking over a market share left behind by the big records industry.
The first Brazilian Rap songs were registered in records by those former “ball teams” and small recording companies from São Paulo, under the form of collective long-play records, that is, with many groups contributing with one or two musics. First records appeared in 1988.
The definitive leap happened when the small teams/recording companies started to buy some spaces in the programs of commercial radios of frequency modulation. Playing the music from their exclusive artists they created a wider divulgence channel than the ball halls.
Sales, which had not surpassed the figure of 50,000 records until 1994, raised to 3,5 million of copies in 1998 and a huge number of new groups appeared all over the country, but the ones from São Paulo had most prestige among the consumers.
Many Rap groups emerged and disappeared from the musical scene, but in 1997, launching their 4th record, the Racionais M C’s group started to receive a different treatment by the communication channels. Never before attributed to a band like this, with a too aggressive style, this kind of treatment started due to the repercussion of the phenomenon of 200,000 records sold in the first two weeks from the launching of the CD “Sobrevivendo no inferno” (Surviving in Hell).
Newspapers, national magazines and TV published articles showing the general astonishment and a total lack of knowledge of the country cultural reality in which the Rap music was inserted in. The most important conventional television and radio networks started to present musics from this group in their programs. Until then, the Rap music was played in specific programs from the local MTV or in segmented radios or in inconvenient television schedules or in ball halls that sometimes would join together around 10,000 young people in only one night.
Television networks would only show Rap bands which lyrics did not incorporate the questionings about segregation and violence, keeping apart those bands that showed some kind of engagement.
Spoken songs are not a strange way of making music in the afro-Brazilian cultures. Both in the rural music we can find some work songs and in the urban environment a style called samba-de-breque, which interspersing parts of melody with an oral speech under a syncopate rhythm of percussion and harmony played with a seven string guitar (which plays the role of a double-bass) and a small string instrument called cavaquinho.
Rap performers call their music of street culture. For them, the streets are the place where the unemployed and under employees survive doing many different things. The streets for the cream of the society is a place were the social conflicts, robberies and murders are evident. For the rappers the street is a open space, the only place they can exert their domination.
The ones not well advised, taking a look on them, may have the wrong impression that they are just a group of black and dark-skinned young people excluded by the industrial culture, dancing and singing songs with neither esthetics nor content. But those young people rescued the oral culture and the poetic musical improvisation and placed again the most important social problems questionings in rule, despite the media will. Doing that, they try, in their way, to make the relationship with the world around them more human.
Their songs of strong political meaning is not very common in the universe of youth people music and that may be why they are still facing the recording companies rejection until now.
“Some songs are poetry in rough state, extracted from life, and talk about the hope of better days, about the conscience of the inequalities and about the multiple ways of violence. They rescue personal, familiar and community dramatics, doing the contrary of the ones who turn the misery into a show of insensibility to make people insensible.”
In the opposite direction of a global manifestation, poets of the Rap search shelter in the local identity, they use their neighborhoods, their dead friends who died in the violent city in the content of their lyrics, mixing base language, slang, sociology and history in highly refined metaphors to make their songs/protests.
They call the dominant relations of “system”, Africa “mother” and the other black and dark-skinned people “manos” (brothers). At this way they try to establish some artificial family relations, trying to re-establish, in their way, the links that the domination relations wanted to rupture and, in front of a deaf society, increase the volume of their equipment’s to the limits of the tympanum capacity, claiming for social justice.
image- M.A. Olimpio. Luis L.F.- DMN and PIVETE- Pavilhão 9, Lady Rap (Cris),1999.
Free website - Powered By Wix.com
|Olhar/Mosaico em perspectiva de práticas e conhecimentos, políticas e artes africanas/diaspóricas. Apenas um biocaminho na esfera. Afim de experimentar toques e palavras, sons e ruídos, notas tortas e dissonâncias. Apalpando e sorvendo quase tudo, no cosmo, na Américafrolatina, quase na beira do Atlântico.Por desvelar e re-conhecer as partes e o todo na busca do estar pleno no mundo, enquanto for.|
SILVA, Salloma Salomão Jovino da. Bio-caminho
|Salomão Jovino da Silva, "Salloma Salomão é um dos vencedores do CONCURSO NACIONAL DE DRAMATURGIA RUTH DE SOUZA, em São Paulo, 2004. Professor da FSA-SP, Produtor Cultural, Músico e Historiador. Pesquisador financiado pela Capes e CNPQ, investigador vistante do Instituto de Ciências Socais da Universidade de Lisboa. Orientações Dra Maria Odila Leite da Silva, Dr José Machado Pais e Dra Antonieta Antonacci. Lançou trabalhos artíticos e de pesquisa sobre musicalidades negras na diáspora. Segue curioso pelo Brasil e mundo afora atrás do rastros da diápora negra. #CORRENTE- LIBERTADORA: O QUILOMBO DA MEMÓRIA-VÍDEO- 1990- ADVP-FANTASMA. #AFRORIGEM-CD- 1995- CD-ARUANDA MUNDI. #OS SONS QUE VEM DAS RUAS- 1997- SELO NEGRO. #O DIA DAS TRIBOS-CD-1998-ARUANDA MUNDI. #UM MUNDO PRETO PAULISTANO- TCC-HISTÓRIA-PUC-SP 1997- ARUANDA MUNDI. #A POLIFONIA DO PROTESTO NEGRO- 2000-DISSERTAÇÃO DE MESTRADO- PUC-SP. #MEMÓRIAS SONORAS DA NOITE- CD - 2002 -ARUANDA MUNDI #AS MARIMBAS DE DEBRET- ICS-PT- 2003. #MEMÓRIAS SONORAS DA NOITE- TESE DE DOUTORADO- 2005- PUC-SP. #FACES DA TARDE DE UM MESMO SENTIMENTO- CD- 2008- ARUANDA SALLOMA 30 ANOS DE MUSICALIDADE E NEGRITUDE- DVD-2010- ARUANDA MUNDI.|