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In a documentary, Emicida rewrites the country’s history and rescues Afro-Brazilian culture



São Paulo – São Paulo rapper Emicida released his documentary on Tuesday (8) AmarElo – It’s All Yesterday, in partnership with Netflix. In November 2019, the artist occupied the Municipal Theater, in downtown São Paulo, for the show to launch his latest album Yellow. However, the recording of this event had a greater objective than the creation of a musical DVD and was used as the basis for a documentary about black Brazilian heroes, erased by the past, and the construction of Afro-Brazilian culture.

Emicida has always stated that Yellow it was a job far beyond music and rhymes. For him, the record is a “social experiment”. In his documentary, the rapper uses the show at Theatro Municipal as a basis to present this project, which turns rap into “neo-samba”.

During the almost 90 minutes of documentary, the rapper presents a real history class – much of it, hidden in books. It addresses the policies of whitening society and the erasure of black culture, putting spotlight on invisible black personalities such as the architect Joaquim Pinto de Oliveira, known as Tebas, the black militant and anthropologist Lélia Gonzalez and the actress Ruth de Souza, the first black protagonist of a soap opera.

“I don’t feel like I came, I feel like I’m back. And, somehow, my dreams started before my arrival ”, says Emicida, right at the opening of the documentary. The phrase exemplifies his time travel, with the belief that it is possible to foresee the future when he returns to the past.

The Municipal Theater

Emicida’s show at Theatro Municipal is symbolic, and a timeline for black culture. Therefore, the presentation and the videos behind the scenes dictate the narrative line of the documentary. The cultural space located in the center of São Paulo, the stage of the rapper that November 2019, also gave way to other historical moments.

It was on the steps of the Municipal Theater on July 7, 1978, that hundreds of black protesters protested over racial violence against four boys from the Tietê Club Regattas children’s volleyball team and a man accused of stealing fruit at a fair, who ended up arrested, tortured and killed. All of this at the height of the civil-military dictatorship. That day, the Unified Black Movement (MNU) emerged.

As Emicida recalls, in his documentary, the occupation of the Municipal Theater is a historical repair. Although built by black hands, the place was exclusive for these people. His occupation at the Municipal is not only individual, but collective. “The idea is to build a movement within a physical space. When we go up on that stage, it will be the night that transformed many people’s lives ”, he says, in the short.

The Modern Art Week of 1922, which also took place in the same theater and is remembered in the film, was responsible for changing the general ideas about art in the country, demanding more national features and opening space for samba. This is where Emicida rescues not only the genre as a political movement, but also as a forming element of the national rap identity.

The neo-samba of Emicida

Emicida’s documentary is divided into three acts: Planting, Watering and Harvesting. To rewrite history, the rapper shows the need to reconnect with the land, so that it is possible to rescue its roots. Nowadays, this movement is necessary for society and for politics, and also for Brazilian hip-hop.

Emicida’s history class presents new perspectives for this culture. With the documentary, the artist shows that, in Brazil, rap is not only originated with DJ Kool Herc, in the United States, in the 1970s. Architects Tebas and Teodoro Sampaio were responsible for the architectural change of the center of the city of São Paulo , especially the São Bento region, where Brazilian hip-hop came to life.

Emicida makes explicit how rap has many characteristics of samba, being a direct and indirect source of inspiration. This fusion of rap with Brazilianness has always existed, from Ataliba and Firma to Marcelo D2. From this reconnection with the past and the gender in Yellow, Emicida classifies his album as “neo-samba”.

Like samba, rap fought to be recognized as a relevant art. Characters like Clementina de Jesus and Adoniran Barbosa, who made historical portraits of everyday life, flow into the current experiences of rap. And that is what Emicida seeks to open wide, especially when he strengthens, during the film, his connection with samba player Wilson das Neves.

Emicida’s documentary shows that Yellow it is the link between the past and the future, bringing the connection between historical and cultural landmarks. It is a presentation of the nature cycle, where everything we live in today, has happened before. For this reason, when naming the documentary “É Tudo Pra Ontem”, the rapper points out that there is urgency in this rescue of the past.

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