Emicida: Records that changed my life

BY Becca Inglis

4th Apr 2023 Music

Emicida: Records that changed my life

Rising Brazilian rapper Emicida talks us through the records that changed him ahead of his London Latin Music Festival appearance

Moacir Santos—Coisas

Coisas by Moacir Santos album cover

Moacir is one of the great maestros in the history of Brazilian music and on this record, he gives a treatment of classical music. It's not an album of classical music, but it sounds like it—he dresses popular music with a garment of classical.

It's not exactly the first, but one of the first instrumental albums that I fell in love with. 

These arrangements are the songs of the people, the sounds of the streets, the songs of the childhood of Moacir Santos. When you hear this album, you feel how huge the Brazilian musical culture is.

"When you hear this album, you feel how huge the Brazilian musical culture is"

I think the most incredible thing about it is that even though they are fantastic pieces, he decided to name the record “Coisas” (“Things” in English).

Instead of naming them “Opus”, as other composers did with their works—“Opus” this, “Opus” that—he actually decided to name them “Things”, as if they were simple. I think that's tremendously humbling and genius.

De La Soul—Stakes Is High

De La Soul Stakes Is High album cover

The second album is a popular album in the rap scene, mainly in the United States.

I had already been following De La Soul, and it wasn't an easy record to find in Brazil at that time, but with my friends, we exchanged some cassettes with the songs from that record. We started to freak out about this other way of rapping. 

De La Soul is responsible for expanding our notion of what rap music could be. Gangsta, this heavier aspect of rap, was much more present in people's imagination. With De La Soul, it's more fun. These guys take some jazzy things and create a smooth atmosphere, and they are very good lyricists. 

"De La Soul sometimes sounds like a Brazilian band singing in English"

I didn’t understand English when I heard Stakes Is High for the first time, but I felt the lyrics. I think rap's about this. It's not about the language; it's about the feeling. It's about the atmosphere. Music is about that. 

That's the reason why Stakes Is High it's so important for me, because I felt the atmosphere and thought, I want to do something like this in my music. It's very similar to a lot of raps that we do in Brazil. De La Soul sometimes sounds like a Brazilian band singing in English, for me.

Compilation of Pixinguinha

Coletânea Pixinguinha (ENG_ Compilation of Pixinguinha) album coverI have a friend, he's a music professor at University of São Paulo, and he once said an incredible thing to me. “Brazilian music is huge. If you want to write a huge encyclopedia about Brazilian music, there’s plenty to include. But if you just have the space for one line, you need only write ‘Pixinguinha’.”

Pixinguinha is our greatest maestro. This record was the one that introduced me to his work, seeing other people interpreting his compositions. My admiration was so much that I tattooed it on my arm.

This Pixinguinha album is the first instrumental album that I loved, because there is a record with a Brazilian musician named Jacob do Bandolim. Bandolim is a charged strummer, very short—a cavaco is similar.

There's an interpretation with Jacob do Bandolim singing, playing “Lamento” by Pixinguinha, (“lamento” is like “crying”, or “dropped some tears”). The first time I heard the song I cried, because it’s so deep, it’s so beautiful, it’s so technically perfect. 

Geraldo Filme, Clementina de Jesus and Doca—O Canto Dos Escravos (Sound of the Slaves)

Canto des Escravos album cover

There is a Brazilian linguist named Aires da Mata Machado. He did a trip to a state named Minas Gerais, and when he came upon a city named Diamantina, he heard the black people in this place talking with very old languages.

They do not speak just Portuguese. They speak a mix of Portuguese and a lot of African languages. He recorded the people talking and singing and created a fantastic book named O negro e o garimpo em Minas Gerais (The Black People of Minas Gerais).

"It's the most important sociological musical record in Brazil"

In 1982, Clementina de Jesus, an old Brazilian singer, and Geraldo Filme and Tia Doca, with a percussionist named Papete, recorded this album, O Canto Dos Escravos (Sound of the Slaves), with the songs that the linguist translated in his book. 

It's very raw. It's just the voices, the stories and the percussion, but it’s a perfect album. You need to read the lyrics—not even I understand everything, because it's very old Portuguese mixed with another language. But you feel the singers, and look to the history and think about the beautiful things that Brazil can build. 

For me it's the most important sociological musical record in Brazil.

Aparecida—Foram 17 Anos

Aperecida Foram 17 Amos album cover

Aparecida, I’d like to talk about her because I think she is a fundamental artist for us to understand how capable, creative, talented artists like her are erased in the history of music. 

There is a song in this album named “Were 17 Years”. This song title explains how, as a woman, Aparecida was delayed by 17 years before she could record her first album.

This is no small thing for a black woman, this waiting time where she was convinced in the type of music that she needed to represent and share with the world. 

This album was very important to communicate how difficult it is for a girl, specifically a black girl, to record her songs at this time. Today a lot of things have changed, but it's not perfect. 

For her obstinacy, for the focus, for the talent, for the concern, in designing a Brazilian spiritual music, because Aparecida, in a certain way, was just that: a portrait of the spiritual music of Brazil. She's a very spiritual singer. She researches spiritual rhythms and forms of singing. 

I think she is one of the characters that we are still discovering in Brazil, unfortunately. We are about to discover the greatness of this woman.

Emicida will be performing at the Barbican as part of La Linea, London’s Latin Music FestivalVisit the festival website for the full line-up and tickets

Banner photo credit: Wendy Andrade 

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