Return to a City of Rhyme


In 2006, the favelas of Recife, Brazil, Were one of the most violent places on the planet. There are gun battles here almost every day. It’s like the movie City of God, where each gang tries to take territory from the others. In the midst of war, twelve kids set out to do the impossible. And in this album, we will record songs from each of you, and tell something of the story of your lives. To use rap to stop the violence. Five years have passed… This movie tells the story of three of the young musicians. Return to a City of Rhyme April 2011. Downtown Recife. All right, I want to call the rappers from Ato Periférico, Jonas, Okado, Detefon… Telling the truth… Talking about my community, Santo Amaro, which faces so much prejudice. Santo Amaro isn’t just thieves,
it’s full of workers, good citizens… Whether it’s night, afternoon, or morning,
why are the cops always frisking us? That first show was an unforgettable experience. I wrote a song about Santo Amaro, a song calling for peace, “Peace and Unity,” it was called, because that’s what I didn’t see in the favela. Peace? When everything was a battle? Day after day it was war and death. Santo Amaro had divided in rival groups, The Campo do Onze didn’t get on with people here in Santo Amaro. Over the last five years, it’s evolved, and there is more tranquility in the favela. There are still stupid wars between gangs, but it’s nothing like it was before. We try to be good models for the kids, because we know they’ll see us as a mirror. If we do good things, they’ll see themselves in us, and say, “He knows what’s up. I want to be like him.” Before, I wrote gangster funk, you know. That’s when you write a song to destroy the other neighborhood, our enemy. But that just increases the rivalry and makes everything worse. So now I just sing peace. The first thing is to respect your parents;
Let God protect you My God, how crazy is this world where we live,
I never see peace, only men dying. It’s so sad to watch this happen.
Who knows if one day it won’t be your son lying there on the ground. I invited Lata to sing along with me, He lives every day with me, he’s like a brother. We’re always together. In the night, you hear the police outside… With each beat, I remember the good things I’ve lived in the community, While all of the bad memories disappear. Funk musicians say that this rhythm is funk: But that beat existed long, long ago. It’s the rhythm of the Makulelê [a traditional afro-Brazilian dance] They just added one bit: That’s the du-du-dum. But they really robbed that, too, because that’s the end of the verse in Makulelê. They don’t want to hear about the good,
They invade the favela and do such damage… Uniformed pigs, horsemen of the apocalypse,
They’re the ones who kill the innocents in our land. How long have we been judged,
just because we’re poor, black, and live in the favela? That first show was a victory for all of us in Ato Periférico. But now we have many more opportunities to present on stage. Like when we got to do a tour in Austria. Man was it cold: I was always in three jackets! When we got there, a man was there to receive us, and it was great. The building was amazing, and on the stage, we put on a real show. But I’m really proud of when I took the mike in the hand and began to sing. The crowd didn’t understand the lyrics, but they cheered us on like this: They gave us great energy so we’d keep singing. I didn’t want to stop, I just wanted to keep singing, But DJ Big said, “Nope, it’s over, and when it’s over, it’s over,” And we walked off the stage, and the crowd was like a beehive. They came up to me and asked for autographs, bought the CD… I felt like a rock star, man! I’ve sung in so many places here, but I’ve never been cheered like we were there. …but I keep walking. Santo Amaro isn’t just theives,
it’s workers and good citizens. The idea of this studio is that it belongs to the community. After what we started with the kids, now I record rap groups, and other groups: côco, maracatu, singers, capoeira… And I produced my own album here, too. Today, an hour in a studio is expensive, but people from the favela don’t pay to record here. We think that the favela will shine through little efforts, small things: A song here, an album there. Children and teenagers have the desire to learn, to search. And kids from the favela never really had anything in their lives. And I think that’s why these communities are strong. They have so much desire to succeed, so they sieze on any opportunity they have. They’re really born leaders. Little kids look up to them, because they are good at what they do. They shine, and people see that, and see that something is possible. Not just in them, but also in my son, my friend… We break down that wall that says “A poor kid can’t, a poor kid has no talent.” We broke that down with the project. It wasn’t easy, but thank God I finished, And now I’m going to record. But not like that. Your voice has to flow out. Your voice is the most important thing right now. Ato Periférico Studio, Favela of Água Fria Ato Periférico, from the Group Pé no Chão, There are people who think the poor live a soap opera, They say such stupid things when people… You’re already recording? Recording… And I started off wrong. Before, I was afraid to record, but now I’m in the studio, excited to sing. Before, I was shivering and insecure, But not now. I feel pretty good. So, then, tell me about it.
So many people dying, and they pay no attention. You know, I took the idea for the poem from a soap opera. It was about a corrupt mayor who went into the favela and promised this and that, and the people in the community cheered him on. But then he went straight to the bank to put the money for the project in his own account. Just stealing from the poor. I was so revolted I decided to write a song. And I wrote it all out in the middle of the night. These leaders who lie to you and try to screw you over. I tripped over my tongue there at the end. It’s on the beat, “So, there, tell me…” In the second chorus, you think I can articulate… You can. I’m going to put some effects on that. If I were crazier, I’d put that in the song… Wow! Roni, he’s the man, he’s the DJ, this one here. He’s my DJ! They’ll ask, “whose voice did you sample?” It’s a contribution that Pavarotti made to my song… But he didn’t want credit. You know, that happens to me all the time. I’m just playing around, and I turn that play into something real. It’s awesome when it happens. My choreographies are born of play, you know? Imagine that Roni and I are playing around, and we see it could be a dance. And it happens that way. I always thought I had a better chance with dance than with rap, but then huge news: They invited us to London because we won the Freedom to Create Prize. And interacting with those people showed me that I have so much potential, to perform on stage and get people to move their hips, to dance and sing with me. One time, we gave a show in the Teatro Piccolo, and then gave a talk to people studying theater. Imagine the scene. We’d never studied theater, we’re from the favela… We put on a show in the Teatro Piccolo in Italy, such an important theater there, And afterwards, they want us to talk to students learning theater. I said to myself, “This is crazy.” “This is crazy.” People want to learn from me, something that I never studied! I choreographed a show here in the Teatro Santa Isabel, the most important in Recife, and it was about the wall of Santo Amaro. You see the shopping center, the wall, and then the favela. The shopping center build the wall to hide the favela from people who have money. So they don’t have to see the poor people next door. The project helped me to open my eyes to what happens in my community. Now I can say, “I’m from the favela, but in the favela there are all of these good things.” It’s not just drugs and theives and bad people. It helped me to speak about the place where I was born, where I grew up, where I’m from. This year, DJ Big asked me to choreograph a dance for the Marco Zero stage, for the opening of carnaval, on the most important stage in the city. I brought together 20 people and developed a two minute choreography. Imagine dancing for more than a million people. I looked down and saw only a sea of heads. How do I make a difference today? I think I can say I bring culture, or even peace, into the favela. Instead of bringing cocaine or crack or marihuana into the favela, I bring culture to kids who are at risk to be involved in all of that. Before, mothers said, “Don’t hang with that boy, he’s a bad influence.” But today, they say, “Walk with that kid, ’cause he’ll show you the good road.” The first time we did a show, it was so great, for so many people, so I said to myself, “If the first one was like this, what about the next one?” I was nervous, because at first I couldn’t find my place in the beat. It was the first time; I had no experience. Put the effect here, but not on this one. Here in the community, I think most people come down on the side of what’s closest to them. If I live closer to drugs and crime, that’s the life I’ll live. If I live closer to school and culture, that’s where I’ll go. And if someone balances in the center, between one and the other, You have to chose your own road. And that’s what I did when I had the chance to record in Ato Periférico. When I began to dance, I was part of a group called “The Urchins of Breakdance”. There were twelve of us in the group. And of that group, only two of us are still dancing. Me and Detefon. Two of them are hanging out and playing a lot of ball. Eight… eight members of the team… They took the wrong road. Some of them died, some are in prison. Others wander the streets without a soul, I’d say. They don’t take care of themselves, they take drugs… I try to talk with them, bring them back to reality, to bring them back to culture and away from drugs, But I’m sad to say my efforts are in vain. I mourn that I can’t do anything. Today, I can tell you that hip-hop culture saved me. After I began to breakdance, I came to see what was right and what was wrong. “I’ll do this, but not that, because if I do that, I’ll die.” I’ll go to jail, my mother will be disappointed with me. MC Okado, with the beats of DJ Roni… I feel like it’s 2006, when all of this started. The whole process, the recording. Creating the rhythm for the music. Creating the base, and the camera always there filming. I feel like it’s all happening again. It’s great. MC Okado, “Uniformed Men,” mixing it up with Pé no Chão. Ato Periférico went for a tour in Austria. When we got there, in the hotel where we were going to do the concert, it all felt normal, no big deal. Just a normal show. And then we got behind the curtains, and I peeked out to see the audience, and everyone is high society, in suits and ties. So I said, “Man, we’re going to sing favela music for these people?” What are they going to think of our lyrics? But then I thought what a great chance it was, because they had come to listen. And maybe that way, we could change their minds in some way. To convince them to help the needy classes in whatever country they were from. And we’ve gone to many breakdance competetions, here, in Piaui, in João Pessoa. Soon we’ll go to Freestyle Sessions in São Paulo And to the Battle of the Year, also in São Paulo. Both are qualifiers for the world championships. The whole story of traveling is awesome; it’s really good.. But it’s just for that moment, you understand? Afterward, it feels like an illusion. You go, and you are there, enjoying that moment. Then suddenly, you blink your eyes and boom. You’re back in the favela, trying to make ends meet. You have to dance at the stoplight for spare change. It’s cool, but it’s also difficult. Uniformed men, armed men,
they enter the favela. In alleys and dead ends… I wrote another song called “Uniformed Men.” And it tells a common story here in the poor neighborhoods of Recife. The police, who are supposed to defend us, come in to the favela with violence. They beat up everyone, and have no idea how to talk to people on the urban periphery. Violence will stop, it’s only a question of time,
but it will happen when we learn to express ourselves. A couple of years ago we were doing an “Eco of the Periphery” show and we decided to do it in the favela of Island of God. And unfortunately, as we were doing the event, the police showed up and started to frisk people, invaded people’s houses. But we were filming, and out of nowhere they wanted to take the camera, break it. They told us we couldn’t film. And the result was a conflict between rappers and the police. When a community reacts with music, art, or culture, or hip hop, like there, it breaks down the police’s way of thinking. It wasn’t what they expected, so their prejudices broke apart. When things calmed down, they opened the mike up for the rappers, and we talked about what had happened. At the end of the open mike, the police came and apologized. Now we know that good people live here… I think that some of them expressed profound feelings, repentence, regret at what had happened. While others said things, or backed down, and used less violence because they were afraid of the power of the camera that’s here in front of me. The camera has an impressive power. But the most important thing was the way the community responded instantly. Everyone united in order to protect the community and to protect themselves. They had to recognize that the community really had more power, because we were united. The violence will end, it’s just a question of time,
if we’re able to express what we feel. That’s why I sing a protest,
demanding that they act correctly. What f***ing ugly music! It’s just s**t. In a public event, with songs about police violence, they try to break up the concert doing exactly that. The officer came after Okado and almost hit him as he was singing. Uniformed men enter the favela,
In alleys and dead end streets… But DJ Big intercepted him, because he saw what was happening. He stepped aside to talk with DJ Big and Jocimar. He wanted to take the singers prisoner. The only reason he didn’t, is because DJ Big, who understands the law very well, argued with them, explained what freedom of expression meant, We also talked about freedom of expression, and the officer had to back down. You see it all the time: people aren’t hurt if they don’t do what you say they do. Let me explain: you walk by and I yell, “You’ve got lice!” If you don’t have lice, you don’t care, understand? But if you really do have lice, you’ll be mad, because I’ve said something that is true, is veridical. And that’s what I think happened there at the show. The sing, “uniformed police, thief!” and everyone looks at me. DJ Big also reminded him that it wasn’t his responsibility to do anything right there. Because it’s another type of police that reponds to accusations of undermining respect for authority. Enough violence, we’ve had too much,
Let’s stop it all and cultivate peace. Lower your gun and see if you’re wrong.
Because Brazil has had enough of war. As we got in the bus [to go home] we felt persecuted. A police car followed the bus that Pé no Chão had rented past the 13 de Maio park. A car and a motorcycle. We thought they were after us, they wanted to stop and frame us for something. But I think it was a good thing to teach people who were passing by during the show. So that people who were watching would see that they can denounce violence. Police violence, but other kinds, too. To claim their rights. People might pass and think, “What stupid stuff are those guys singing about?” But they see us singing and the police there, And they say, “They’re still singing in spite of the police, telling the truth about how people live. I’ll do the same.” I think it’s really good that it happened. So many people are indignant about what the police do, but they don’t have the courage to speak up. And who knows, after what happened That other people might stand up, too. And maybe things will change a little. Let’s stop and think and cultivate peace. Lower your gun and see if it works,
because Brazil has had enough of war. If they had come after me and put me in the police car, man! It was good to have known you, dude. Okado is afraid! I’m not afraid, you understand,
Because I’m used to police beating me up. They come and beat us up every day,
They’d beat up Joseph and the Virgin Mary, In the favela, they beat up women, they beat up kids,
Count on it: they’d even beat up Pelé. There we were, doing the Echo of the Periphery,
Not bothering anyone at all, But then the police arrived
and said we were disobeying the authorities, And we almost got beat up here, downtown! But as they got all worked up,
they didn’t even know how to arrest us. They started off shouting,
and if Big and Jocimar weren’t there, they would have attacked us. Me, Detefon, and Jonas…
But now I’m still singing, notorious. Still singing here in the Praça do Diário,
I’m still with you, MC Okado…

3 thoughts on “Return to a City of Rhyme

  1. que massa
    esse documentario é um apridizado muito grande pra mt gente

  2. if youre gonna have an english title, why not english subtitles?? -__-

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