Crude Mamonas

They are rude, crass, provocative, pornophonic, sometimes funny,
almost always infuriating. The Mamonas Assassinas
became an overnight success and the newest phenomenon of
the Brazilian music scene, selling in six months 1.6
million records, a number unheard of even for better known
bands and singers. Now, in a strategy to maintain a fresh image,
they are leaving the stage, but promise to be back in July
with a new LP and more outrage.

Unanticipated and coming from São Paulo, they’re startling Brazilian children
between the ages of 8 and 13. They’re surprising teenagers with a mixture of off color
words, good humor, and a total disregard of
cultural mores. They’re creating a fervor. There is
no antidote for the young who crave a heavy-metal sting. Radios in Rio and São
Paulo were assaulted by their unexpected concoction. Children’s TV programs have been
superseded by every Brazilian adolescents’ favorite diversion today, a musical virus
that answers to the irresistible name Mamonas Assassinas. Killer Breasts!

Surprise was the first reaction for those who heard the name of this band
from Guarulhos, São Paulo, that launched its
first recording in July. Nonetheless, the phenomenon of Mamonas Assassinas is the
present condition of Brazilian pop music. The
thinking is that the deficit of good ideas in MPB (Brazilian Popular Music) has created
“alternative” groups that migrated from the
secondary school playgrounds to recording studios and became the dominant sound on
the radio.

Kids in Brazil have always adored changing the lyrics of well-known songs to
objectionable ones and making a parody of the
tune’s original meaning. They have always loved
suggestive jokes. As a result, people in Rio today can always tell which homes have children
as they will inevitably hear a discharge of
Mamonas Assassinas blaring out into the street.
Analogous to Beavis and Butt-head in the United States, anything that amuses young people
(the more idiotic the better) is fair game for the media.

To the despair of many Brazilian parents, their kids are consuming the newly released
CD with voracious appetites. Attempting to please their capricious kids, some uninformed and
“out of touch” parents have innocently agreed to
buy the disc. Still upon first hearing, have
forbidden their kids to waste their time with “such
garbage” and have threatened to return the
recording. As with most threats, however, the
parents have had to bite the bullet. In the case
of Mamonas, the bullet is rather large and goes straight to the head.

In the last few months, Mamonas Assassinas has been performing five shows per week,
sometimes three in one day, charging an average
fee of 20,000 reais (more than $20,000) for each time they take the stage, giving them an
income of over 400,000 reais (around $440,000).
Their first recording sold over 350,000 copies in
the first two months after release, more than the
last CDs by renowned singer-composers Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, and Milton
Nascimento combined.

The attack-by-debauchery marathon seems to be beneficial. Their highly abusive lyrics
plus a mixture of bizarre rhythms, has inserted Mamonas Assassinas as the most played
group on Brazilian radio. In fact, Mamonas is currently getting more radio air-play in Rio and
São Paulo than any other artist. Despite the fact
that the recording is a comparatively new release, the band played recently at Arpoador beach
to an enthusiastic crowd of over three thousand that had their song lyrics memorized.
Afterwards, with questionable sincerity, Dinho,
the band’s singer, stipulated in cynical terms
that the band’s music is a divine inspiration.

With or without the intention of offending, the group uses a heavy-metal guitar sound
and ruthless lyrics to ridicule the continental
Portuguese, the caipiras (hillbillies), and
principally the people from the sertão
(backland people from the Northeast) who immigrate to São
Paulo and Rio looking for work during the
horrendous Northeastern droughts. These are people
who dress and speak differently, who are often
illiterate and who will do anything, any type of work, to survive in the big city. They are also
a quick-thinking group of people who eventually become acculturated, but who are terribly
exploited when they first arrive.

In the thousands of interviews the group has given, one question inevitably rears its
head: Why Mamonas Assassinas? The relationship

between the name and music is even more bizarre
after eyeballing the group’s trademark, an enormous pair
of firm female breasts that tower over the band
members who are carousing below them. The band’s 22 year
old bass player, Samuel, explained that he dreamt of a
name that would bring them success. Even without the
fantasies, the band hides behind a cover of natural irreverence.

Until a short time ago, the five Mamonas all had
day jobs and would practice in their free time what
they exchange today for enormous sums of money. The
five live in Guarulhos, close to the international airport on
the outskirts of São Paulo where watching planes take off
and land is the principal entertainment for the poor. The
only attraction in the city is the noisy Cumbica airport.
There is no night life in Guarulhos.

On Saturday nights, young people who have
enough change in their pockets catch rides to the
neighboring cities of Mairiporã or Vinhedo where there is a little
more happening. Because the five Mamonas, friends for
more than six years, had eternally empty pockets, their
only form of entertainment had been bringing together the
rest of kids and guiding them through long sessions of
brainlessness that helped to minimize their hard lives.
They became specialists in inventing off-color escapades.

Samuel was an office boy for four years, and after
that a clerk. His 26 year old brother Sérgio, the
group’s drummer, worked as a production controller for
Olivetti typewriters. Bento Hinoto, the guitar player, was the
co-owner of a firm that used to install ceilings and
office partitions. Júlio, the keyboard player and only member
of the band who had a car, used to work as a technician in
a diesel motor factory. Dinho, a Baiano, had a situation
that his peers from Bahia would joke about but would
also have preferred. He lived off of his parents allowance.

At 24, and with the mind of a 13 year old, Dinho is
the soul of the group. He was born in Irecê in Bahia but
moved to Guarulhos before he was a year old. His parents
were going to chance living in the great city of São Paulo.
His father is a real estate broker, his mother a housewife
and evangelist. Needless to say, Dinho does not follow
the word of the Gospel. But this does explain why religion
is the sole area that has not been touched by the
iconoclastic band’s humor, that has in fact been avoided so far.

Until the fifth grade Dinho studied in public
school. Later, he tried a vocational school, but in the end he
was expelled because of his eccentricity. From the time he
was a boy Dinho enjoyed making imitations and is very
convincing, especially with distinctive types of people
like those from the north and from the interior of São
Paulo with their characteristic accents and quaint
expressions. He is a clown by nature and was early to discover
his avocation for pantomiming celebrities. When he was
only 15 years old, he went to a friend’s wedding dressed
as Michael Jackson wearing a silver jockstrap over his
outfit and, of course, the sequined glove trademark. Even
the priest laughed.

Dinho never studied singing but practiced by
listening to recordings and repeating each nuance and every
section until his interpretation sounded exactly like the
original. In this way, his voice developed its variety of
registers. Coincidentally, this is also the way that notable
TV and radio mimics have developed their voices.
Dinho never missed an opportunity to dress like a clod, go
out into the streets, and interview people while
imitating radio and political personalities. Today he continues
these same antics on stage between songs.

The first contact Dinho had performing on a stage
was thanks to his buffoonery. It happened outdoors at
an apartment project for the poor close to where Dinho
lived. It was a festa junina, a traditional June party where
the backland people, the Brazilian hillbillies, are imitated.
A rock band playing at the party was giving up because
they didn’t know how to sing an enormous hit of the
time: Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns and Roses. The
band announced that they would have to play an
instrumental version of the tune unless someone at the party knew
the lyrics and would be willing to come up on stage and
sing. Dinho, the outrageous clown who spent his time
showing-off even more so than his tasteless friends, went
straight ahead.

 

He didn’t know the lyrics but simulated the poses
and mannerisms of a top model and pantomimed the
singer Axl Rose. He pranced and swaggered around the
stage making so much racket that he became a local idol.
The public was ecstatic, and the band decided to adopt
Dinho as their singer. They went directly from the show to
a karaoke bar where Dinho made his friends explode
with laughter.

The tremendous response to the band’s new
line-up prompted Dinho and his friends to start making
some money. They began promoting themselves by
performing at rallies for political candidates at the city hall
in Guarulhos. Dinho, composer of most of the groups’
songs, said that it was probably his fault that the candidates
for whom he was working lost the elections.

Before becoming a success, Mamonas had been a
band called Utopia that played funk and heavy-metal.
Dinho brought his imitations into this arena with
performances of tunes by Cazuza and Herbert Vianna of Paralamas
do Sucesso. Utopia’s music lampooned people and
parodied the way they live. In fact, many of the tunes on
Mamonas’s current release were composed during this phase of
the band’s evolution, when its orientation was doing
cover versions of other heavy-metal bands’ material.

Utopia also did cover versions of tunes in many
other styles: pagode, sertaneja,
forró
and in this way developed a certain proficiency in those styles. Dinho had
already learned to play violão (guitar) by playing backland
music with his father. It is the band’s familiarity, their
competence with these diverse styles, which demonstrates
that their versions truly bear no malice.

Guitar player, Bento Hinoto, a
Japanese-Brazilian with dreadlocks, stated that the guys in the band like
all kinds of music, especially progressive rock, but that
they decided to concentrate on a particular sound, a
sound similar to Engenheiros do Hawaii, (the trio from
Porto Alegre that writes philosophical lyrics and uses
heavy instrumentation) because Engenheiros were
successful. Keyboard player and singer of “Vira-Vira”, Julio
Rasec, joked that Utopia once recorded a disc for an
independent label that sold over 50 copies.

Through the experience of Utopia, the band’s
explicit humor and repertoire gradually developed. They
took their music seriously at first but were not seasoned
musicians and initially experienced monumental confusion
on stage. Little by little they were finding that while
performing one tune they were delivering an alternate message
to their public. The Utopia phase of the group’s
history lasted for five years before the group decided to
assume their current style and start writing the types of
parodies

that infect all of their shows today. The next step
was changing the group’s name and expanding the new
repertoire. The change was apropos.

Impressed by the strong reception they were
getting for their parodies, the band went to a low-budget studio
in the very simple Tremembé neighborhood with the
intention of recording only four of their funniest tunes.
The owner of the studio was impressed and sent a copy to
one of his contacts in Rio. The tape turned up in the hands
of João Augusto, director at EMI, who asked if the band
had more music. Although the band had very little material
at the time, Dinho said that they had about 20 tunes
and could record at any time.

The songs on the current disc, aside from the four
that were recorded in Tremembé, were wholly composed
in only three weeks. Each track plays like an episode of
the Three Stooges and runs the emotional gamut from A to
C. Even the technicians at the recording date were
bursting out laughing at the band’s absurdities. During the
recording of “Robocop Gay,” for example, the singer in
underwear would imitate a girl doing a strip tease.
Nonetheless, with these compositions and a poor quality tape the
band landed a contract with EMI that allowed them to
complete the final mix in the United States.

 

Besides plane fare and hotel costs each
musician received an advance of $500.00 from João to shop
for clothes. When they returned to Cumbica airport
in Guarulhos, they arrived as the pride of their city and
were dressed like idols. Today the group’s performance
attire is as diverse as the styles of music that they parody.

The strength of Mamonas Assassinas, their humor
and uncanny ability to parody other groups, stems from
the long established tradition with São Paulo pop bands
that delight in plagiarizing other bands and pop music
in general and then lampooning the music. Premê, for
example, recorded a loose satire on the tune “New
York, New York” titled “São Paulo, São Paulo” that was
humorously cynical and chided rather than praised the
city’s traffic, adolescent pickpockets, and pollution. The
lyrics spoke with irony about the city’s Italian immigrants
and scorned its political leadership.

Despite the fact that Mamonas Assassinas follows
a similar off-color style as the band Raimundos, they
have an advantage over their peers from Brasília. The
Mamonas fusion of sound is more pop and less noisy, the
ideas behind the band’s foolishness fluctuate from tune to
tune, a greater diversity of themes is present in the lyrics,
and Mamonas Assassinas puts forth exceptional cultural
insights.

Mamonas hasn’t stopped at simple platitudes.
They belittle the spoken dialect of São Paulo where the
plural form of nouns is not employed. Dinho sings without
the pluralizing “s.” But the parody doesn’t stop with just
the lyrics and grammar. Mamonas takes music like
Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk” or “Should I Stay
or Should I Go” by punk band The Clash and creates
musical anecdotes with a scorching sarcastic tone. The
singer Belchior, a success in the 70’s with his
philosophical lyrics, is imitated in the band’s “Uma Arlinda Mulher”:

Você foi agora a coisa

Mais importante

Que já me aconteceu

Neste momento em

Toda minha vida

Um paradoxo do

Pretérito imperfeito,

Complexo com a

Teoria da relatividade

Num momento crucial,

um sábio soube saber

Que o sabiá sabia assobiar

E quem amafagafar os mafagafinhos

Bom amafagafigador será

You are now

The most important thing

That has happened to me

In this moment

In my entire life

A paradoxical of the

Past imperfect,

Complicated with the

Theory of relativity,

In a crucial moment,

a wise man knew how to know

That the song-thrush knew how to sing

And whoever amafagafar the mafagafinhos

Good amafagafigador will be

 

The song just puts words together that don’t mean
a thing but can sound conclusive when taken all together.

Belchior is, as are many targets of these parodies, a
fan of Mamonas. He stated that although the diction used
in some of the group’s music may have some reference to
his way of singing, he doesn’t feel that it is offensive. He
is aware that it is not flattering but feels that the intention
is not so much to criticize as to have fun.

All of the tracks from the current release have
the potential of being played frequently on the radio.
“Vira-Vira,” an impeccable mockery of the continental
Portuguese, is the third most often played song on the radio
in São Paulo. The vira is a dance and a style of singing
in Portugal. Despite their use of politically incorrect
expressions, the band has made an incontestable bull’s eye
with the public.

“Vira-Vira” is unquestionably the most
high-handed track out of the 14 no less irreverent ones. With the
tune the Portuguese folk dance and song is raped by
noisy heavy-metal guitars and a disturbing lyric content.
The narrative speaks of the duress of a Portuguese baker
who starts an adventure of group sex with a woman.

Besides this Portuguese couple, the band
describes other amusing situations like, husbands who are
worried about their wives’ addiction to the television
shopping channel, construction workers who are enamored
with Jean-Claude Van Damme, homosexual body-builders
and their ensuing activities. In the musical mockeries it
is possible to identify parodies not only of singers
like Belchior, but also of Zezé Di Camargo & Luciano,
Cauby Peixoto, and Max Cavalera, singer for Sepultura.

 

The satire assumes levels of conceptual ideas
because the ideas are prejudiced. Dinho, however, defends
himself by saying that he doesn’t speak badly about
anybody, that he only shows daily life. He goes on to say that
the music is not created by chance, that it is always
inspired by some character around them.

Sometimes the inspiration comes from other
compositions, as did the samba full of heavy-metal guitar “Lá
Vem

o Alemão” that had as its model
“Lá Vem o Negão” by the São Paulo
group Cravo e Canela. Mamonas batters samba
pagode
with “Lá Vem o Alemão.” Although the tune is an
explicit satire on the pagode scene today, musicians from the
pagode groups Art Popular and Negritude Junior
participated in recording the track. Other
pagode musicians, like Alexandre Pires from the group Só Pra Contrariar,
applaud the validity of the groove and perceive the comical tune as it
should be a facetious joke.

“Lá Vem o Alemão” speaks
about a man whose girlfriend dumps him for a blonde guy, the owner of a
Ford Escort. Dinho interprets the pain of the betrayed with a voice identical to
the singer of the pagode group Raça Negra, Luiz Carlos. But this is not making
a mockery of samba. The groove is authentic

pagode. Dinho said that the band made a real effort to catch what
is important in the pagode sound mix.

Titãs is a band that plays music from punk to reggae to
brega (gooey romantic songs whose basic
meaning has been changed for the worse). On their celebrated third album,
Cabeça Dinossauro, which was chosen as
the best Brazilian album of the 1980s by Jornal do
Brasil
, the rock band scrutinized modern societal institutions
and assaulted all who uphold its hypocrisy. The album is satirized
by Mamonas with “Cabeça de Bagre
II.” Bagre is common name for fish, but cabeça de bagre
is also slang for moron. Hinoto’s pulverizing
slash-guitar style on the track demands hearing!

Marcelo Frommer, guitar player for Titãs, has a 12 year old daughter that
is a Mamonas fan and doesn’t see any problem with the irony of
Mamonas. He stated that Mamonas does everything on the basis of stereotype,
imitating brega, imitating pagode. In
the beginning he felt that Mamonas was in bad taste then started to view it as
a healthy form of bad taste.

 

The heavy-metal dementia on the disc includes the tracks “Pelados
em Santos” (“Naked in Santos,” a
São Paulo beach), Chopis Centis, and Robocop Gay. Chopis Centis
targets people from the Northeast who become dazzled and seduced with
the splendor of the big cities’ shopping centers. In Rio the tune is among
the 10 most often played songs on the radio.

A very good explanation for the public’s receptivity of a group
that mixes the most aggressive form of heavy-metal, with quick-witted
arrangements that utilize a variety of rhythmic grooves
fado, pagode, rock, forró,
sertaneja, and brega, (depending on who and what they
are mocking) is that you listen and your laugh is instantaneous.

Another explanation for the band’s success is that their lyrics capture
and give more emphasis to the language and dialect used by Brazilian
kids among their peers than any other song lyrics have up until now. These
lyrics oscillate between mockery, bad taste, the grotesque, and the absurd.

Can they come up with material as strong for their next release?
Dinho said that he wrote the lyrics to “Vira-Vira” in 15 minutes inside Júlio’s
VW bug. He says that he is not afraid of being without ideas because he is
not pretending, that nobody imagined it would be possible to put together
the Portuguese vira dance with heavy-metal guitar.

In the same way Mamonas Assassinas is promising to catch
everyone by surprise with their next release. It remains to be seen whether
Mamonas Assassinas will be around for a while or if they are going to be only
an exceptional craze that looses its breath when the joke is repeated. Until
then the jokes just keep going by.


Bruce Gilman plays cuíca for Mocidade Independente
Los Angeles, received his MA from California Institute of the Arts,
and teaches English and ESL in Long Beach, California.

 



Close your ears

here comes dirty talk


SABÀO CRÁ-CRÁ

Sabão crá-crá

Sabão crá-crá

Não deixa os pelos do saco enrolar

Sabão cré-cré

Sabão cré-cré

Não deixa os cabelos do saco de pé

Sabão cri-cri

Sabão cri-cri

Não deixa os pelos do saco cair

Sabão cró-cró

Sabão cró-cró

Não deixa os pelos do saco dar nó

sabão cru-cru

sabão cru-cru

Não deixa os cabelos do sacuuuuuuu

enrolar cons do cu

CRÁ-CRÁ SOAP

Crá-Crá soap

Crá-Crá soap

Doesn’t let the balls’ hair to curl

Cré-Cré soap

Cré-Cré soap

Doesn’t let the balls’ hair up

Cri-Cri soap

Cri-Cri soap

Doesn’t let the balls’ hair to fall down

Cró-Cró soap

Cró-Cró soap

Doesn’t let the balls’ hair to tangle

Cru-Cru soap

Cru-Cru soap

Doesn’t let the balls’ hair

to curl with the hair of the ass



BOIS DON’T CRY

Vejam só como é que é

A ingratidão de uma mulher

Ela é o meu tesouro,

Nós fomos feitos um pro outro

Ela é uma vaca

Eu sou um touro

BULLS DON’T CRY

Look at the ways

A woman is ungrateful

She is my treasure,

We were made for each other

But she is a cow

And I am a bull



PELADOS EM SANTOS

Mina, seus cabelo é “da hora,”

Seu corpo é um violão,

Meu docinho de coco,

Tá me deixando louco.

Minha Brasília amarela

Tá de portas abertas,

Pra mode a gente se amar,

Pelados em Santos.

Pois você é minha “pitxula,”

Me deixa legalzão,

Não me sinto sozinho,

Você é meu chuchuzinho!

Music is very good!

Oxente, ai, ai, ai

Mas comigo ela não quer se casar

Oxente, ai, ai, ai

Em minha Brasília amarela com roda gaúcha ela não quer entrar

Oxente, ai, ai, ai

E feijão com jabá a desgraçada
não quer compartilhar

Mas ela é linda

Muito mais do que linda

Very, very beautiful

Você me deixa doidão (ô yes, ô no)

Music is very porreta

Oxente, Paraguai

Pros Paraguai ela não quis viajar

Oxente, Paraguai

Comprei um Reebok e uma calça Fiorucci

Ela nao quer usar

Eu não sei o que faço pra essa mulher
eu conquistar

Mas ela é linda, muito mais que linda

very very beautiful

Você me deixa doidão

Você é meu chuchuzinho

Eu ti ai love youuuuuuuuuuu

Pera mais um pouquinho que tem mais um pouquinho de

Uuuuuuuuuuuu…

Tchan !

NAKED IN SANTOS

Young girl

Your hair is the latest

Your body is a guitar

My coconut sweet

You make me crazy.

My yellow Brasília (car)

Has open doors

In order to make love

Naked in Santos

Because you are my “pitxula,”

You make me feel good

I don’t feel alone,

You are my little sweetie!

Music is very good!

Folks, alas, alas, alas

But with me she doesn’t want to marry

Folks, alas, alas, alas

In my yellow Brasília with gaucho wheels she
doesn’t want to get in

Folks, alas, alas, alas

And beans with jerked beef the damned woman
doesn’t want to share

But she is pretty

Much more than pretty

Very, very beautiful

You make me crazy (oh yes, oh no)

Music is very good

Folks, Paraguay

To Paraguay she didn’t want to travel

Folks, Paraguay

I bought a Reebok and Fiorucci slacks

She doesn’t want to wear

I don’t know what to do to win this woman

But she is pretty

Much more than pretty

Very, very beautiful

You make me crazy

Your are my sweetie

I you I love youuuuuuuuuuu

Wait a little longer because there is a little more of

Uuuuuuuuuuuu…

Tchan !



VIRA-VIRA

…Roda, roda e vira, solta a roda e vem

Neste raio de suruba, já me passaram

A mão na bunda,

E ainda não comi ninguém…

VIRA-VIRA

…Turn, turn and flip, let the wheel loose and come

In this damn orgy, they have already

Stroked my ass,

But I haven’t screwed anybody yet…



LÁ VEM O ALEMÀO

Só de pensar que nós dois
éramos dois

Eu feijão, você arroz

Temperados com “sazon”

Só de lembrar nós dois na Kombi no domingo

Nosso amor era tão lindo

Nós descia pro boqueirão

A Kombi quebrada lá na praia

E você de mini saia dando bola prum alemão

Alemão de carro conversível e eu mexendo no fuzível

Nem dei conta quando você me deixou

Subiu a serra, me deixou no boqueirão

Arrombou meu coração, depois desapareceu

Fiquei na merda, nas areias do destino

Me tratou como um suíno, cuspiu no prato que comeu

O amor e uma faca de dois legumes

Na luz anal de vagalume que ilumina o meu sofrer

Eu ainda sinto o seu perfume com cheirinho de estrume

Não tá fácil de te esquecer

Quando eu lembro de você me dá vontade

De bater, espancar o meu amor

Só por que ele é lindo, louro e forte

Tem dinheiro e um Escort

Como um Modess você me trocou

Subiu a serra, me deixou no boqueirão

Arrombou meu coração, depois desapareceu

Fiquei na merda, nas areias do destino

Me tratou como um suíno, cuspiu no prato que comeu

THERE COMES THE GERMAN GUY

When I think that the two of us were two

I was bean and you were rice

Well seasoned

When I think about Sundays, the both of us in the
Kombi (van)

Our love was so pretty

We went down to the river’s mouth

The Kombi broken on the beach

And you in a mini skirt flirting a German guy

A German guy in a convertible while I dealt with the fuse

I never noticed when you left me

You went up the hill, leaving me at the river’s mouth

You gatecrashed my heart and then disappeared

I was left in the shit, in the fate’s sands

You treated me like a swine, you spit on the plate you ate

Love is a knife of two legumes

In the firefly’s anal light which illuminates my
suffering

I still feel you perfume with its manure smell

It’s not easy to forget you

When I think about you I have the urge

To beat, to spank my love

Only because he is pretty, blonde and strong

And has money and an Escort

Like a Tampax you changed me

You went up the hill, leaving me at the river’s mouth

You gatecrashed my heart and then disappeared

I was left in the shit, in the fate’s sands

You treated me like a swine, you spit on the plate you ate

 

 

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ANIMATED BRAZIL — PART FOUR: TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE (CONCLUSION)

Everyone Does the “Broadway Samba” Near the conclusion of “Samba Lelê,” Senhorita Olive Oyl ...

Brazilian Eliane Elias Recalls the Aura of Bill Evans

Comprehensive study of the classical piano repertoire, a strong attraction to the theories behind ...

Brazilian cartoonist Laerte - Photo: Wikipedia

Laerte, a Brazilian Transgender Cartoonist Who Became a Netflix Movie

A documentary that premiered this week on Netflix explores the life of a Brazilian ...