Criolo on stage

brasilobserver - Dec 19 2014

(Leia em Português)

Hot on the release of his third album, the Brazilian rapper is heading to London for a show at the Village Underground, on 22 January; he speaks exclusively to Brasil Observer and tells us why he loves the “endless encounters and possibilities” music provides

By Guilherme Reis

Three years after shaking the Brazilian music scene with the album Nó Na Orelha (Knot In The Ear), Brazilian rapper Criolo launched one of the most anticipated albums of 2014: Convoque Seu Buda (Convoke Your Buddha), his third studio record on 3 November. Without much hype, or glamour, the material was released in full to download for free on the singer’s website, direct and delivered straight to the audience, like all good rap music should be.

It is not, however, strictly a rap album. Of course, the singer’s original genre is represented there, in songs such as “Convoque Seu Buda”, “Esquiva da Esgrima”, “Plano de Voo” and “Duas de Cinco”. But there are lots of other styles such as samba, reggae and forró, which form the general framework of an album that embraces the versatility of Brazilian popular music and the singer himself, who moves easily along these paths that are seemingly unconnected.

All this diversity can be appreciated by the British audience on 22 January, when Criolo will perform at the Village Underground in Shoreditch. It will be the third time that the singer takes to the stage in the UK capital. He made his British debut in 2012, during the Back 2 Black festival, and then returned last year, when he performed with Mulatu Astake at the London Jazz Festival.

Speaking over email to Brasil Observer about this expectations for the performance, Criolo said, “these invitations are rare and special, and it is not always so easy to move. There have been situations where we could not go. So it’s always great when we have everything right. So we try to make the most of these opportunities to try to build a new audience, show our work and make the best of this exchange.”


Criolo is not a boy. At 39 years of age, he carries the experience of a long history in rap and knows the difficulties artists face. Ironically, his Nó Na Orelha album was originally created as a farewell record, but it elevated the singer to a leading role within the emerging New Brazilian Popular Music.

Criolo probably did not expect that and he probably disagrees with the statement above. But it is a fact proven by the recognition of big names on the national scene, including Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Ney Matogrosso and Milton Nascimento, with whom he had the opportunity to collaborate. And of course, the recognition of the public, especially a younger generation who have a strong reverence for the classics of the past, and often feel certain creative vapidness in contemporary music.

The rapper fills that void with a lot of talent that speaks directly to a generation that grew and continues to grow up in the chaos of Brazil’s big cities. He raps about the inequality that strikes the eye, the stupid consumerism of material goods and drugs (legal or illegal) and the lack of love. The new album features numerous references to concerns raised during the 2013 demonstrations in Brazil, such as the violent evictions made by police and the dangers experienced by those who are on the streets because of astronomical property prices.

“We are living in an extremely hostile period, which was not created much less fed by this generation who want a better society,” Criolo says. “We cannot lose hope in the human being, because otherwise how it will be the life of our grandchildren?

“All of us are able to build something positive, but an environment that encourages and facilitates this construction process is far from being really democratic. While there is inequality, there will be suffering. We started talking about the possibilities of how this may change, but receive support to actually build these changes are really much better to talk about it”.


Born in Grajaú, a peripheral neighbourhood in São Paulo, Criolo’s music speaks to the world. If all Londoners could understand Portuguese, certainly they would identify with the rapper’s lyrics because here people the live in the grips of the machine as much as the people there – albeit in a less evident way. In this sense, the songs of Criolo give voice to feelings that are often reserved, stored within the box of order and acceptance of things as they are.

Criolo seems to agree. “The desire is always to be able to express something, no matter the way. More than just a return album or selling tickets, the good thing is to know that the music allows endless encounters and possibilities.

“I believe that when the music is made with pure sincerity of your heart, no matter how elaborate or innocent it is, it will reach another heart and it nourishes the others with hope. From then what happens escapes our control”.



When: 22 January

Where: Village Underground

Tickets: £16.50


Read more: Brasil Observer #23