Sorry, New York. The Hip-Hop Thrill Has Gone South to Rio

Flora Matos If you were ambling along the Copacabana beach, in Rio, in recent months, you could hear it many a time: The melody of “Who is ready to jump” by Suriname-born Dutch DJ Chuckie. Finest funk, mixed with raw bass beats and staccato sounds and at the top of the Brazil dance charts.

The rough sound of hip-hop in a danceable version has arrived at the Hot Spot Rio, too. And it finally gets the sensualidade, which had been missing in New York City in recent years.

Because of its multi-cultural influences Rio seems to be downright predestinated to become the international metropolis town of NuHip-Hop at the Soccer World Cup, happening in 2014.

The Baile Funk, once started in the favelas under the statue of Christ, the Redeemer, has for a long time become a big hit all over the world. And there is more than  Madonna and the famous photographer David LaChapelle and Krumping-artists using Rio as backdrop for their videos.

Away from the great pop scene there has been happening a lot in the field of Brazil hip-hop. A few years ago, São Paulo was the home of these styles, but now new hip-hop acts have sprung up like mushrooms in Rio. Some of their songs are like caipirinha for the ears – energetic, staggering, erotic.

Emicida, with his musical experiments, is one of the most interesting artists – and one of the newest. His temperamental rhymes still keep the roots of the Funk Carioca and musically he reminds us of the US-old school-rap, which he makes exotic with ethnic finesse and bewitching rushing of the warm Atlantic Ocean.

Emicida, who likes to describe himself as an orixá, protected by nature deities like his forefathers in West Africa, muses about dim-dim (money), easygoing vagando (wandering), and chilling in the poor quebradas (hoods). But by doing this he does not become a Claquer of a dull gangsta-rap. His message is the message of a booming Brazil, not forgetting its youth.

And then we’ve got Flora Matos who radiates an elegant antidote against so much masculine nonchalance  – keeping in mind her Kollabo together with Emicida three years ago. She has been on tour through Europe already. She is the ageless mother of Brazil hip-hop.

As the daughter of musician Renato Matos, she has been popular in the scene for more than ten years already. At the age of 17 she started with rap-singing. She made her breakthrough into the mainstream by gaining the prize as the best female singer in 2006. Now she runs in heavy rotation also at MTV in Asia and Europe.

Rapper brasileira the soft way: Warm voice, smooth lyrics. Traditional samba meets European coolness of a sophisticated Brazil. Since Emicida sounds of the wild madness of Umbanda, Flora comes to terms with the stylish easy-going in Brasília, her hometown, or Santa Teresa and Gávea, in Rio.

For example, “Esperar o sol” (Waiting for the Sun) reminds of Italian kantetes of the Eighties, so Flora redefines the modern Brazil pop on her album “Pai de família” (the subtitle “Nova música” (New music) was no overstatement).

So it does no harm that she slips into saudade (longing) now and then: Home girl rules! The corredor da morte (death corridor) from the Favela clubs is complete: Vai dançar! (Go dancing!)

So the appearance of the feminine battle killah Flora Matos, as glamorous as athletic, becomes a role model for young Brazilian women, and it shows that God must be Brazilian.

Rio has always been more cosmopolitan than New York, but now Rio even has got the better hip-hop. All these facts make the hip-hop Rio-style outclass the old one from America. Only in France there is a comparative scene. Tudo acaba em hip-hop. (All Ends in hip-hop.)

Brazil’s hip-Hop sensation Flora Matos singing Pretin

Marcel Malachowski is a German writer from Berlin much in tune with the Rio hip-hop scene.

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