#42 – Racionais MC’s – Negro Drama (2002)

from Nada como um dia após o outro dia (Cosa Nostra, 2002)

Original lyrics:

Negro drama
Entre o sucesso e a lama
Dinheiro, problemas
Inveja, luxo, fama

Negro drama
Cabelo crespo
E a pele escura
A ferida, a chaga
À procura da cura

Negro drama
Tenta ver
E não vê nada
A não ser uma estrela
Longe, meio ofuscada

Sente o drama
O preço, a cobrança
No amor, no ódio
A insana vingança

Negro drama
Eu sei quem trama
E quem tá comigo
O trauma que eu carrego
Pra não ser mais um preto fodido

O drama da cadeia e favela
Túmulo, sangue
Sirene, choros e vela

Passageiro do Brasil
São Paulo
Agonia que sobrevivem
Em meia às honras e covardias
Periferias, vielas e cortiços

Você deve tá pensando
O que você tem a ver com isso
Desde o início
Por ouro e prata

Olha quem morre
Então veja você quem mata
Recebe o mérito, a farda
Que pratica o mal

Me ver
Pobre, preso ou morto
Já é cultural

Histórias, registros
Escritos
Não é conto
Nem fábula
Lenda ou mito

Não foi sempre dito
Que preto não tem vez
Então olha o castelo e não
Foi você quem fez cuzão

Eu sou irmão
Dos meus trutas de batalha
Eu era a carne
Agora sou a própria navalha

Tin, tin
Um brinde pra mim
Sou exemplo de vitórias
Trajetos e glórias

O dinheiro tira um homem da miséria
Mas não pode arrancar
De dentro dele
A favela

São poucos
Que entram em campo pra vencer
A alma guarda
O que a mente tenta esquecer

Olho pra trás
Vejo a estrada que eu trilhei
Mó cota
Quem teve lado a lado
E quem só fico na bota
Entre as frases
Fases e várias etapas
Do quem é quem
Dos mano e das mina fraca

Negro drama de estilo
Pra ser
E se for
Tem que ser
Se temer é milho

Entre o gatilho e a tempestade
Sempre a provar
Que sou homem e não covarde

Que Deus me guarde
Pois eu sei
Que ele não é neutro
Vigia os rico
Mas ama os que vem do gueto

Eu visto preto
Por dentro e por fora
Guerreiro
Poeta entre o tempo e a memória

Hora
Nessa história
Vejo o dólar
E vários quilates
Falo pro mano
Que não morra, e também não mate

O tic-tac
Não espera veja o ponteiro
Essa estrada é venenosa
E cheia de morteiro
Pesadelo
Hum

É um elogio
Pra quem vive na guerra
A paz nunca existiu
Num clima quente
A minha gente sua frio
Vi um pretinho
Seu caderno era um fuzil

Um fuzil
Negro drama

Crime, futebol, música, caraio
Eu também não consegui fugir disso aí
Eu só mais um
Forrest Gump é mato
Eu prefiro conta uma história real

Vô conta a minha

Daria um filme
Uma negra
E uma criança nos braços
Solitária na floresta
De concreto e aço

Veja
Olha outra vez
O rosto na multidão
A multidão é um monstro

Sem rosto e coração

Ei,
São Paulo
Terra de arranha-céu
A garoa rasga a carne
É a torre de babel

Família brasileira
Dois contra o mundo
Mãe solteira
De um promissor
Vagabundo

Luz
Câmera e ação

Gravando a cena vai
Um bastardo
Mais um filho pardo
Sem pai

Ei,
Senhor de engenho
Eu sei
Bem quem você é
Sozinho, cê num guenta
Sozinho
Cê num entra a pé

Cê disse que era bom
E as favela ouviu, lá
Também tem
Whisky, Red Bull
Tênis Nike e fuzil

Admito
Seus carro é bonito
É
Eu não sei fazê
Internet, videocassete
Os carro loco

Atrasado
Eu tô um pouco sim

Eu acho

Só que tem que

Seu jogo é sujo
E eu não me encaixo
Eu sô problema de montão
De carnaval a carnaval
Eu vim da selva
Sou leão
Sou demais pro seu quintal

Problema com escola
Eu tenho mil
Mil fita
Inacreditável, mas seu filho me imita
No meio de vocês
Ele é o mais esperto
Ginga e fala gíria
Gíria não, dialeto

Esse não é mais seu
Ó,
Subiu
Entrei pelo seu rádio
Tomei
Cê nem viu
Nós é isso ou aquilo

O quê?
Cê não dizia?
Seu filho quer ser preto
Rááá….
Que ironia

Cola o pôster do 2Pac aí
Que tal?
Que cê diz?
Sente o negro drama
Vai
Tenta ser feliz

Ei bacana
Quem te fez tão bom assim?
O que cê deu,
O que cê faz,
O que cê fez por mim?

Eu recebi seu tic
Quer dizer kit
De esgoto a céu aberto
E parede madeirite

De vergonha eu não morri
To firmão
Eis-me aqui

Você, não
Cê não passa
Quando o mar vermelho abrir

Eu sou o mano
Homem duro
Do gueto, Brown

Obá

Aquele louco
Que não pode errar
Aquele que você odeia
Amar nesse instante
Pele parda
Ouço funk

E de onde vem
Os diamantes
Da lama

Valeu mãe

Negro drama
Drama, drama, drama…

Aê, na época dos barracos de pau lá na Pedreira, onde vocês tavam?
O que vocês deram por mim?
O que vocês fizeram por mim?
Agora tá de olho no dinheiro que eu ganho
Agora tá de olho no carro que eu dirijo
Demorou, eu quero é mais
Eu quero até sua alma
Aí, o rap fez eu ser o que sou

Ice Blue, Edy Rock e Kl Jay e toda a família
E toda geração que faz o rap
A geração que revolucionou
A geração que vai revolucionar
Anos 90, século 21
É desse jeito
Aê, você sai do gueto, mas o gueto nunca sai de você, morou irmão?
Você tá dirigindo um carro
O mundo todo tá de olho em você, morou?
Sabe por quê?
Pela sua origem, morou irmão?
É desse jeito que você vive
É o negro drama
Eu não li, eu não assisti
Eu vivo o negro drama, eu sou o negro drama
Eu sou o fruto do negro drama
Aí dona Ana, sem palavras, a senhora é uma rainha, rainha
Mas aê, se tiver que voltar pra favela
Eu vou voltar de cabeça erguida
Porque assim é que é
Renascendo das cinzas
Firme e forte, guerreiro de fé
Vagabundo nato!

Translated lyrics:

Black drama
Between the mud and the stalwart
Money, issues
Greed, Luxury, fame

Black drama
Bad hair
Dark skin
The injury, the sore
Looking for a cure

Black drama
He tries to see
But he sees nothing
Besides a far away and
Shadowy star

He feels the drama
The price, the demands,
In love, in hate
The insane and constant vengeance

Black drama
I know who plays againt me
And who’s with me
The pain that always walks with me
So that I won’t end up just another fucked up black guy

Prison and favela
Graves, blood
Sirens, tears and candles

A stowaway in Brazil
São Paulo
The pain of those who survive
Amidst the kudos and the frowns
Suburbs, narrow ways and slums

You must’ve been thinking
What the hell do I have to do with it
Since the beginning
Looking only for gold and riches

Look who dies
So look at who do you kill
The one that makes evil receives
The merit, the uniforms

To look at myself
As poor, in chains or dead
Has already become a second nature

Stories, documents
It isn’t a myth, a tale, a legend or a fable

Hasn’t been always said that
A black guy has no stand?
So look at the castle and you know
It wasn’t you who made it, you asshole

I’m a brother of my fellow comrades
I was flesh, now I’m the razor

Cheers, cheers to you
I’m an sideshow of victories
Paths and glories

Money can bring misery out of someone
But can’t take favela from inside him

There are only few
Who present themselves ready to win
The soul keeps
What the mind tries to forget

I look back
I see the path I’ve chosen
[Mó cota]
Who stood together
And those that got behind
Between sentences
Trials and many stages
Of who’s who
Of who stands and who falls

A stylish black drama
Just to be and if it does become
It has to be
It can’t tremble

Between the trigger and the storm
Always having to prove
That I’m a man and not a coward

May God bless me
Because I know
That He’s taking sides
He watches for the rich ones
But loves those from the ghettoes

I wear black
Inside out
I’m a warrior
A poet stood against time and memory

Well, in this story
I see big money and precious stones
I talk to him
So that I don’t die, and also that I don’t kill

The clock runs
It doesn’t waits
In this vicious road
And full of stones
A nightmare
Hm

It’s a compiment
For those who live in war
Peace has never existed
Even in warm weather
My people sweats cold
I saw a little black guy
He had a rifle for a schoolbook

A rifle
Black drama

Crime, football, music, the shit
I wasn’t able to escape it all too
I’m just another one
Forrest Gump, that’s bullshit
I’d rather tell another story

I’m gonna tell me
It would be a movie, a good movie

A black woman
A child in her arms
Alone in the middle of the jungle
Of steel and concret

Look
Look another time
The face in the crowd
The crowd is a monster
Without simpathy
And a heart of stone

Hey, São Paulo
Skyscraper town
Raindrops tear the skin apart
Exposes the flesh
It’s Babylonia once again

Brazilian family
Two against the world
Single mother of a
Prosperous crook

Light and action
Recording, go

A bastard
Another mulato son
Who never knew his father

Hey, slave owner
I know who you are
I’m very aware that
When you’re alone
You can’t stand it

You walk into a place
You heard there was good too
And the favela has listened
In the favelas there is also
Whiskey, Red Bull
Nike shoes and rifles

I admit
You have a fancy car
Yeah
I don’t know how to do it
Internet, VHS, the cars, man

Yes, I’m a little late
I guess

I only think that
Yours is a treacherous game
And I don’t fit it
I’m a lot of trouble
From year to year
I came from the jungle
I’m a lion
I’m too much for your precious backyard

Problems at school
I have those to sell
You can’t believe it
But your son wants to be like me
When he’s with you
He’s the clever one
He dances and talk slang
Slang, no! Dialect

This one here is not yours anymore
Here, look, I got up from the radio
We’re here and you haven’t even seen it
We are here and there

What?
Didn’t you said it?
Your son wants to be black?
What an irony

Put the 2Pac poster on the wall
What do you say?
Feel the black drama
Go on
Try to be happy

Hey, you
What made you be so good like that?
What did you give,
What did you do,
What has you made for me?

I got your message
I mean, your survival kit
Composed of open sewages
And plywood walls

I will not be ashamed to death
I’m stil here, proud and strong
Here I am

You, don’t
You will not pass
When the sea opens

I’m here, I’m strong
I’m from the ghetto, Brown

That crazy guy
That cannot fail
That one you love to hate
And you adore right now
Dark skin
Listens to funk

And from where does the diamonds come?
From the mud

Black drama,
Black drama, drama, drama

Oh really, when we lived in the wood tents at Pedreira,
Where were you at?
Did you stand to help me?
Did you lift a finger for me?
Now you’re paying attention to how much I earn
Now you care about the car I drive
You’re late, now I want more
I want your soul
It’s there, it’s rap who made me what I am

Ice Blue, Edy Rock, KL Jay and all my crew
And every generation that makes rap be what it is
The people who stood against
And who will stand from now on
Who will make a revolution
Nineties, the twentieth century
It is this way

You come out from the ghetto, but the ghetto doesn’t come outside of you,
Understood?
You’re driving your car and the whole world is watching you,
Got it?
You know why?
Because of your origins, bro
That’s the way you live
That’s the black drama
I didn’t need to read it, to watch it on TV
I’m black, I’m the drama, I’m the black drama
I’m black drama’s son

Here, Dona Ana, you make me without words,
You’re a queen, a queen
But if I have to go back to the favela
I’ll come back proudly
Because that’s how it is
To be born once again from the ashes
Strong and brave, righteous warrior
A born shit!

This took me a while to translated…

Racionais MC’s are one of the most well-known Brazilian rap outfits. Actually, they were present at the very beginning of the genre in Brazil. Rising from Capão Redondo, a large favela in south São Paulo, in the mid-eighties, they’ve recorded only four albums and this one is their last one with new material. Boy, it’s been twelve years already.

Racionais rose to proeminence amongst public opinion in Brazil in 1997 when they released their album Sobrevivendo no Inferno (translating, “Surviving in Hell”). They were accused of patronizing violence, as one of their songs, “Diário de um detento” (“Journal of a prisoner”) was based on a letter writter by an inmate. Conditions in Brazilian prisons are specially gruesome. Earlier this year the state of Maranhão passed through a crisis on its security system, and almost twenty years later the conditions hasn’t improved since Racionais released that song.

“Negro drama”, however, was released five years later and its subject is more relevant than ever. As I’ve said before, Brazil experienced “rolezinhos” in most of its biggest cities and capitals. The rolezinhos were only meant as a kind of fun by those who did it, mostly black young people who now have money but live too far away to enjoy the cities they live. The rolezinhos are deeply connected to funk ostentação, a new kind of genre in Brazilian music in which the connection to drug traffic from classic funk brasileiro are switched to songs talking about buying stuff, spending money, driving fancy cars, drinking liquor and walking around with beautiful women. Later I’ll do a post about it.

What I find interesting in this song and on other Racionais songs is that they took that really as an aim at which young black people look for. How can one refuse it when all the signs of success are associated with having money and spending it around? On this, one can understand all about gangsta rap. But Mano Brown, Racionais leader lyrics and singer, always emphasizes that those are not the main things that will make people happy, that those are illusory goals, in some way. Even so, why not try it…? Especially when the fate of so many young blacks is to die shortly after their twenties? Live fast, die young. Or, as they say, vida loka.

I was thinking about doing a Racionais post for quite some time. Their sound is very reminiscent of gangsta rap. Not all Brazilian rap is like that, as there are those, like Marcelo D2 (a big name on the Brazilian pop scene), who mix rap with MPB and more “Brazilian” sounds. I kinda like it, but musically Racionais have more pleasant songs (like this one, from their second album, in which they sample Curtis Mayfield).

Near the end they mention their own names, KL Jay, Edy Rock, Ice Blue. KL Jay is the DJ, and the others plus Mano Brown are the MC’s. It may seem strange to say, but although he is sometimes too much overtly polemical, Mano Brown is one of the finest Brazilian public intellectuals from the last two decades.

Racionais have a live DVD which is very interesting, as it also has a documentary on Brazilian black music from the seventies until their own time. You can find a live version of this song here and the whole double studio album from where it came down below:

Anúncios

#41 – Jorge Ben – Zumbi (1974)

from A Tábua de Esmeralda (Philips, 1974)

Original lyrics:

Angola Congo Benguela
Monjolo Cabinda Mina
Quiloa Rebolo
Aqui onde estão os homens
Há um grande leilão
Dizem que nele há
Um princesa à venda
Que veio junto com seus súditos
Acorrentados num carro de boi
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver
Angola Congo Benguela
Monjolo Cabinda Mina
Quiloa Rebolo
Aqui onde estão os homens
Dum lado cana de açúcar
Do outro lado o cafezal
Ao centro senhores sentados
Vendo a colheita do algodão tão branco
Sendo colhidos por mãos negras
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver
Quando Zumbi chegar
O que vai acontecer
Zumbi é senhor das guerras
É senhor das demandas
Quando Zumbi chega e Zumbi
É quem manda
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver
Eu quero ver

Translated lyrics:

Angola, Congo, Benguela
Monjolo, Cabinda, Mina
Quiloa, Rebolo
Here where the men stand
There’s a big auction
People say that here is
A princess for sale
Who came with her subjects
Chained to a bullock cart
I want to see
I want to see
I want to see
Angola, Congo, Benguela
Monjolo, Cabinda, Mina
Quiloa, Rebolo
Here where the men stand
One side there’s a sugar plantation
On the other there’s coffee
In the middle the slavemasters are sitted
Watching the white cotton
Being picked by black hands
I want to see
I want to see
I want to see
When Zumbi comes
What will happen then
Zumbi is a lord of war
He’s a lord of needs
When Zumbi arrives
Zumbi will take charge
I want to see
I want to see
I want to see

This is one of my all-time favorite songs and I just love how much “swing” Jorge Ben can put on the first two or three lines. I have a theory that the only guy who can play the guitar like Jorge Ben is Microphones/Mt. Eerie leader Phil Elverum. I don’t know why, but Elverum seems to play with the loose strings just like Jorge Ben always does. The swing is in the hand and on the melody, and not on the beat, if it may be more easy to understand my point. Later I’ll talk more about Jorge Ben and this album in particular, however.

While I was translating this song I was reminded of 12 Years a Slave. The song has such powerful imagery, like the African princess being sold with her subjects on the market or the white cotton being picked by black hands while the slave owners just sit and watch. It is easy to find out what is the subject of the song.

Zumbi, however, is not a zombie, but the name of the most famous fighter against white Portuguese domination in colonial Brazil. Zumbi was the last leader of the Quilombo dos Palmares, in the mid-seventeeth century. The quilombos were settlements created by fugitive slaves, usually in very remote locations. Zumbi became a symbol of the resistance against slavery when he led the negros to two victories and another fierce fight against Paulistas bandeirantes, at the end of which the quilombo fell to the Portuguese. The date when Palmares fell, November 20th, became a holiday on most Brazilian states.

There are still quilombos throughout Brazil, even on urban zones. Porto Alegre, where I live, has recognized the existence of 15 or 20 quilombos in its urban perimeter. The quilombos, however, were easily erased from local public memory.

“Zumbi” is a powerful song and it remains a long time in the head. Just to add to the overall theme, the names recited in the first verses are of African peoples or the origins that the African slaves were given when they arrived. So Angola, Mina and the others indicate from where the slave came. They were specially prized according to their culture and abilities in the colonial and imperial centuries in Brazil (remember that Brazil had an empire in the nineteenth century), just like in 12 Years a Slave most of the slaves were treated differently according to what they knew how to do or their relationship with others.

Caetano Veloso also recorded a version of this song on his Noites do Norte album, which you can listen below:

#40 – Clara Nunes – Canto das três raças (1976)

from Canto das três raças (EMI-Odeon, 1976)

Original lyrics:

Ninguém ouviu
Um soluçar de dor
No canto do Brasil

Um lamento triste
Sempre ecoou
Desde que o índio guerreiro
Foi pro cativeiro
E de lá cantou

Negro entoou
Um canto de revolta pelos ares
No Quilombo dos Palmares
Onde se refugiou

Fora a luta dos Inconfidentes
Pela quebra das correntes
Nada adiantou

E de guerra em paz
De paz em guerra
Todo o povo dessa terra
Quando pode cantar
Canta de dor

ô, ô, ô, ô, ô, ô
ô, ô, ô, ô, ô, ô

ô, ô, ô, ô, ô, ô
ô, ô, ô, ô, ô, ô

E ecoa noite e dia
É ensurdecedor
Ai, mas que agonia
O canto do trabalhador

Esse canto que devia
Ser um canto de alegria
Soa apenas
Como um soluçar de dor

Translated ones:

Nobody heard
A painful sob
On Brazil’s chanting

A sad cry has always echoed
Since the warrior Indian got
Imprisoned and from there he has sung

The black man chanted
A rebellion’s cry through the air
At Palmares to where he fled

Neither the Inconfidentes struggle
For breaking up the chains
Has achieved nothing

And through war and peace
And peace and war
All the people in this land
When they’re able to sing
Sing a painful song

And this frightening song
Goes on and on day and night
Oh but such a grief
Is the worker’s chant

This song should be
A joyful one
But it sounds just like
A painful sob

Over the weekend during a Barcelona match against Villareal for the Spanish national soccer league, a banana was thrown at the field, near Brazilian right wing player Daniel Alves. Such occurrences are quite common in Spain, but Daniel Alves had a surprising reaction when he took the banana from the field and ate it, right before every single person in the stadium (you can see it on the video below).

One can argue for or against Alves’ reaction, but everyone must concede that this was an uncommon thing to do. Later, after the game, he told that maybe it had come the time to “laugh at those idiot racists”. A heartfelt declaration.

What no one expected was that the act would become indeed a hot topic for the week, even if Daniel Alves was quickly forgot. Later on that same day, Brazilian striker Neymar posted a photo with his son of both eating a banana and sporting the hashtage #somostodosmacacos. Or, translated, “we are all monkeys”.

Neymar-bananas

The next day, however, as every Brazilian celebrity — but only those that are white — posted a photograph with the same hashtag, Brazilian TV-show host Luciano Huck launched a public campaign about it, selling t-shirts with the sentence “#somostodosmacacos” stamped on it.

camisa-hulk

It turned out that what seemed like a spontaneous reaction of solidarity with a fellow player by Neymar, who has already suffered racist attacks on some matches in the Spanish league, was in fact a marketing stunt aimed at generating buzz around the symbol of the banana and a shallow discourse about racism just to sell Neymar’s image and Luciano Huck’s t-shirts.

Daniel Alves, quickly forgotten, had just made what seemed more like the adequate answer to it, eating the banana, but in fact he had just started an open argument about racism and the sometimes too easy ways that the topic gets treated on the press or is appropriated by celebrities trying to sell themselves are humanitarian. Now the discussion is fading already, but in the same week that NBA has banned from basketball a franchise owner who said he was against black people at the arenas supporting his own team, racism became indeed the talk of the day.

————-

But what this all has to do with Clara Nunes’ “Canto das três raças?”. Well, everything.

Clara Nunes was a Minas Gerais-born samba singer who rose to fame around the mid-60’s. She had a difficult life and began singing professionally after winning some radio contests, which she entered as a way to escape her work as a weaver. She quickly became very famous and requisited, as she had a very good range and knew a lot about singing techniques, which she learned in church choirs when she was a child. To get a measure of her success, this album here sold over a million copies, as did another three or four of her albums. And don’t forget that this means only the Brazilian market. Unfortunately, she died as a result of an accident while doing a simple surgery on her legs when she was only 39 years old.

“Canto das três raças” was released on the same-title album, dated from 1976. I don’t know who is the composer of the song. Anyway, it lends itself to very interesting things about Brazil.

Brazil usually braggs about being a kind of “racial democracy”, where blacks and whites live together peacefully. As the banana incident above shows, this is not so, as there is very veiled — and more often than not, nowadays, frankly open – racist discourse and practices. One of the pillars of the “racial democracy” thing is the notion that Brazil is the result of the influx of three different races, the indigenous peoples, the black people and the white people.

Needless to say, this theory provides a framework in which each of this “races” have their designated places. So the Indians get the sentiment, the blacks are marked for their work and labour-force and the whites are designated the leadership and the brain behind it all. This kind of thinking was made most famous by the work of Brazilian anthropologist and essayist Gilberto Freye, who in his seminal work “Casa Grande & Senzala” (1935) created a kind of mythical vision in which the casa grande was the site of a peaceful encounter between the black slaves and the white sons of the slave owners, who inherited both the white European culture and the black African costumes, thus creating a new mix from it.

What the song does is to twist it and present the resulting “chant” they all provided as a death song, a painful cry from those below.

And it is indeed amazing how much of that discourse remains on Brazilian imaginary. On the beginning of the year happened on Brazil the “rolezinhos”, in which suburban — mostly black — kids went to shopping malls just to hang out, thus creating panic among the white buyers and the shop owners. Their crime? Just hanging out where they weren’t expected.

But about this I’ll talk real soon.

Just to end this post, bellow you’ll find a link to the whole 1976-Clara Nunes’ album from where this song comes.

Going back

Hey, guys and gurls, readers, I hope, of this blog.

I’ll try to come back to it. I’m sorry for all the time that this blog has been silent, but as my classes began I got very very busy.

Actually, I’ve got so busy that one of the ways I found to relax over everything is to translate and comment Brazilian lyrics once again, so I’m resuming works here on Brazil 70 Translation Project.

I intend to do things this way and you can check it if something is missing:

1. A series of posts about racism (you’ll soon know why…);

2. Translating Jorge Ben’s A Tábua de Esmeralda, just because I like it, OK?

3. Beginning a series of translation of songs about the military dictatorship, which we here in Brazil have just “celebrated” the 50th anniversary of the 1964 coup d’état;

4. Go back again to a series of albums I think are cool, like something from Tim Maia, some Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil and maybe something else I don’t know about;

5. Finally, I have a lot of things I’m trying to post here for sometime which don’t fall in all these categories, so stay tuned for some downloads and special “features”.

Hope you enjoy!