Brazilian Rapper Emicida Blasts the Politically Corrupt
By Sarah Luisa Santos . July 12, 2016
I must say I never was such a huge fan of rap, but to me Brazilian rap is different. It was born from the class struggle that’s still very much present in Brazil, and shows a reality of Brazil that we don’t get to see in the media (especially not the foreign media). Emicida is no exception to that.
Emicida comes from a humble background in the suburbs of Sao Paolo, where he first began battling other rappers and telling his own story through improvised rhymes. Since then, Emicida’s been in the Brazilian rap spotlight for 10 years, and has two albums and several singles produced by the independent record label Laboratório Fantasma.
He’s playing Lido Berlin on July 13th as part of a European tour to present his new album “Sobre Crianças, Quadris, Pesadelos e Lições de Casa” (literally meaning “About Kids, Hips, Nightmares and Homework”), an album where he gets deep inside the topics of modern slavery and social inequality, and brings light to the issues of racism and police violence.
I had a quick interview with Emicida, who shared his views on Brazil’s political situation, how it is to be here in Europe, and his love of bikes and – of course – electronic music.
What can we expect from the album “Sobre Crianças, Quadris, Pesadelos e Lições de Casa”? What are your influences? I think the track Boa Esperança is a bit heavier in contrast to Chapa, a softer “ballad”.
Please don’t call Chapa a ballad (laughs). This album is an invitation to have a dialogue, the opportunity to share stories, to find yourself inside many stories the album brings and for one even to see new possibilities.
I have the sampler in my mind as the core of hip hop musical production, so even when I’m not sampling… I am. I listen and collect several references. In the end, the whole world ends up influencing me – it can happen that a jazz record or a musician playing in the subway of New York gets my attention and if it somehow touches me, I stop and try to learn and collaborate with it in a way.
In Boa Esperança, you talk about our colonial heritage (that unfortunately still affects life today). How is it to talk about that here in Europe, a continent that formed that heritage along with many of our prejudices?
When we talk about “work exploitation”, people usually avoid inserting the word “slavery”. But, if you are attentive, you will be able to see it. Mainly in the so called ‘third world countries’, where the modus operandi of slavery is still very much alive.
Brazil has many powerful people in the parliament who wish to make this concept of slavery more flexible, and this is happening even now in 2016. That means that these people have absolutely no consideration for workers’ rights and, with the coup that happened to our president Dilma Roussef, this kind of politician has gained even more power.
To talk about this, both in Brazil as in Europe, is equally important as many people here in Europe also believe that the society they live in overcame this long ago. But the European countries have continued this through many legal subterfuges to support human exploitation in the African continent.
The Berlin Conference was one of the saddest episodes of humanity, because there they just tore Africa apart without even considering if there was one African person present on the round table or not. And somehow this is still happening today.
And Brazil holds an embarrassing contradiction… it’s the country with the biggest black population outside Africa, but this same population still needs to conduct protests and occupations now, in 2016, just to have access to universities and even to have the right to not be randomly killed by a police that’s institutionally racist.
What’s your opinion on the current political situation in Brazil?
Brazil lives a sad moment, because we have a traitor as a president.
Dilma hasn’t had a government that deserves compliments, but she did receive 54 million votes. 54 million people believed in her promises, which she could not achieve, and all of a sudden we have this man that imposes another agenda completely different from the one previously voted for.
We are in a very sad moment of our history and I don’t see any solution other than to go through a deep political reform and talk seriously about the crises facing representation in Brazil. I mean this in terms of politics, culture, entertainment and society. This debate should have happened long ago, and it didn’t.
Today it’s inevitable that if we want to get out of this situation and take out these rats that dominated and still dominate politics, we have to talk about it more and more. The right wing knows how to use fear and the ignorance of the people, and this gives them support to, for example, put the blame on the immigrants for the internal problems of the country.
We live in a time with little or no hope. A while ago, we used to believe more. Today, I feel we deal so calmly with the fact that things are just like this. Things are wrong everyone can see it, but they go on living their lives as if this barrel full of gunpowder will not reach them when it explodes… until it does.
Is there anything in particular here in the Old World that inspires you?
The bikes. I think bikes are the best invention of humankind. I see them here in harmony with the other types of transport, and in the cities I have been to, this has inspired me a lot.
I keep thinking how amazing this is because it makes us healthier, leads us to have a better diet and creates a cycle where there is only a win-win situation. Definitely bikes are the most amazing tools.
Berlin is famous for its electronic scene. How does this influence you? Any plans to experiment in this area?
Rap is electronic music (laughs). I get very happy when people do not instantly associate one with the other. It’s a huge compliment to the inventor of artificial intelligence when his creation is mistaken for a real person, like in that movie Ex_Machina. We do create our songs with samples, loops and sometimes only with recorded live instruments, but the core of our production, at least mine, is still 100% electronic and I don’t intend to change.
Now talking about mixing with other rhythms – from here for example – I think it’s very possible… Yes, I’m curious enough to take this chance.
Do you have anything special planned for the concert in Berlin?
It’s always special… new concert, new life. I’m very anxious, Berlin is one of my favourite cities. I have many friends here and I want make a concert with that energy – of a great meeting of friends, all celebrating life.
EMICIDA + SPECIAL GUEST: AKUA NARU
Get your tickets to see Emicida live here.