Tamo Juntos

Rio de Janeiro is known for many things; beaches, tropical sunshine, crime, Carnival and Samba – though probably not, hip-hop. The popularity of rap in Brazil is nothing new, in the 80’s and 90’s it was huge, particularly in Sao Paulo; though in the past, Rio never quite got it, preferring it’s own home-made musical styles; traditionally Samba, and in more recent years; Funk Carioca. But now, as the city prepares for the Olympics that are just around the corner, there’s something bubbling up, coming from the favelas and spreading throughout the ‘cidade marvelosa’ (marvellous city).

When you walk up the hundreds of steps to an open-air hip-hop show to ‘o morro’ (the hill), it feels a bit like you’re in the Bronx in the 80’s, but with a tropical twist: rap battles, free-styling, break-dancers and an undeniably imported American street dress sense, but like with most things in Brazil, once it arrives here, it gets ‘Brazil-ified’ – thrown into the mix of this diverse country. Rio artists like Start Rap, Cartel M.C.’s and Cacife Clasdetino mix elements of hip-hop, trap and dubstep to form a fresh sound that is uniquely Brazilian, with lyrics in Portuguese, so aimed directly at a local audience.

Every night of the week there are ‘Roda de rimas’ (rhyming circles) around the city. Some of these are large and organised events, others just a group of people in a public square or a skatepark, with some speakers and mics (hopefully), meeting up to rhyme or battle, just with lyrics and breakdancing. The democratization of the music industry and easier access to music making equipment in recent years has allowed artists such as those of the favelas of Rio, to get straight to their audience without a restrictive record contract, distributing independently through the internet, and performing constantly.

For many of the hundreds of young artists rapping around Rio, it serves as an opportunity for them to use music as an outlet for their creativity, and for some, become a realistic source of income. These communities for decades have been controlled by drug gangs, since the ‘Pacification Police Units’ have been installed gradually since 2008, the violence has continues; though it is reduced on the whole; deaths either at the hands of ‘faciones’ (gangs) or Police remain common. In a situation like that, being a musician or a b-boy is a different choice to getting into drugs, joining a gang or becoming a cop, it gives them an opportunity for recognition and respect from their peers, the political nature of many of the lyrics a chance to voice their social or political frustrations, and to show solidarity with others in a similar position.

Cariocas (people from Rio) walk up a staircase in Morro do Prazeres favela, to a Black Santa Hip-Hop party.Young rappers and dancers at a 'roda de rima event' in an occupied school. Recent months have seen the youth occupying schools to demand better standards of public education.Nyl MC performing at an event in Julio Otoni Favela. Phil Clarke Hill Copyright © Phil Clarke Hill Dancers warm up before their performance at a political hip-hop event in West Zone Rio de Janeiro.NegaBi performing at Meier Roda de RimaRoda de rima in Vidigal, with the spectacular views of the city in the background.Couple kissing at Viaduto Madureira, a famous urban music venue in North Zone of Rio de Janeiro.Raphael Duarte aka Rezapeka practicing in his house in Complexo do Alemao, one of the most dangerous parts of the city, the band sing about the issues faced by themselves and those living in their community. Cacife Cladestino seen backstage with his parents before an important show in Lapa.GPO (20) is a young up and coming artist and devout evangelical Christian. He often performs in church and incorporates elements of his faith into his music. Seen here at home with his family.Skaters at Meier roda de rima, North Zone.Breakdancing battle in Iraja, North zone of Rio de Janeiro, taking place in a church, the event had scenes reminiscent of the 80's hip hop scene.Julio Otoni Favela musical event hip hop, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilBrazilian youth young man having a Nike logo shaved cut into the back of his hair head. Young independent barber shop hair stylist in the street for the young people guys of Vila Valquiere, West Zone Zona Oueste, Rio de JaneiroNyl MC, political hip-hop artist from Acari, Iraja, North Zone Rio de Janeiro. Phil Clarke Hill Copyright © Phil Clarke Hill GPO (20) is a young up and coming artist and devout evangelical Christian. He often performs in church and incorporates elements of his faith into his music. Seen here in his bedroom at home.Pearlas Negras are a trio of female rappers and singers from Vidigal.Mc Oz is from Rocinha, the largest favela in South America, often referred to as a city within the city. Phil Clarke Hill Copyright © Phil Clarke Hill NegaBi is a female rapper from West Zone Rio de Janeiro, as well as being a mother, she raps about the sociopolitical situation in Brazil, and what it's like to be a woman living there.Start Rap getting ready backstage for the launch show of their album 'frutos do jogo' (fruits of the game)Start Rap show in Meier.Adoring crowds at the Start Rap show in Meier. Phil Clarke Hill Copyright © Phil Clarke Hill Marcelo D2, one of Rio's most famous rappers from some years back, and his son (right) Stephan is now a sucessful rapper in his own right, wit group Start Rap.Morro do Prazeres favela, pacified several years ago and previously peaceful for around two years, recent events have seen the secutiry situation rapidly deteriorate, making one of the most dangerous parts of the city due to fire fights between both warring drug factions and Police. Previously the loaction of huge Black Santa hip-hop parties, the community is now once again regarded as a no go zone for outsiders.
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