Mud and Chaos in Brazilian Music

     Mud and Chaos in Brazilian 
Music

    Brazil’s Mangue Beat
    musical movement shows us that the
    dividing line between the public and the private is broken. In an
    absolute way. In the conditions of poverty and misery of these
    great urban peripheries in Brazil, where private life is absolutely
    invaded by the public dimension, or rather by its absence.
    by: Maria
    Rita Kehl

    In order to look at the relation between public and private spaces in popular
    Brazilian music I chose the Mangue Beat movement, created by Chico Science
    and other young, poor musicians from the periphery of Recife.

    Mangue Beat is a musical
    movement that is very contemporary, ideological and a little confused. Its
    appearance, in the nineties, is one of the cultural expressions that are produced
    from this no man’s land that is the space between public and private in Brazil.

    There has not yet been
    time for critical thinking concerning the entrance of these dwellers of the
    margins into the cultural industry, especially as far as musical creation
    is concerned.

    We are talking, perhaps,
    about the third generation of the expansion of the cultural industry
    in Brazil. We had a first generation, the era of radio, and a second, the
    era of television, particularly from the seventies onward.

    The third generation would
    thus be that of the nineties, marked by a drop in the cost of recording, that
    is the drop in the cost of technology both for listeners, the consumers of
    popular music, and for those who produce CDs and tapes, in little backyard
    studios.

    This third generation,
    on the one hand, benefited from the much greater interpenetration of musical
    influences coming from other regions of Brazil, from other social classes
    and also from other countries—as was the case with the entry of American
    rap—reaching a young population, which without the drop in recording
    costs, would have been marginalized even in relation to its own mass culture,
    with the exception of that which is transmitted on television.

    We know that what arrives
    via television is far from being the most interesting part of the culture
    produced in Brazil. It is curious that, having access to consumption and national
    and international musical production, this generation should maintain an attitude
    of reserve and criticism as far as television is concerned.

    On the other hand, there
    exists now the possibility that these consumers from classes C & D, as
    the advertisers say (the lower classes) can produce creative responses originating
    from the diversity of musical expressions which reach them, and thus insert
    themselves into the mass culture. All of Brazil has come to be aware of groups,
    which, until now, even if they were creative, would have had at most a regional
    or local impact.

    Music Role

    Popular music, in Brazil,
    is a very strong and very present discursive product, perhaps the strongest
    in a country strongly marked by illiteracy. Popular music here assumed the
    function of producing meaning for life in society, for our differences, for
    the miseries and human riches of this country.

    It is quite frequent in
    my clinic, when someone is trying to find a context for something that has
    happened in their private life, in their emotional life, for them to quote,
    not a philosopher, not a priest, but the verses of a well-known composer:
    "as Caetano says, as Chico says…"

    They more often quote
    verses from MPB (Música Popular Brasileira—Brazilian Popular Music)
    than verses from other poets or literary authors. Music and cinema are constantly
    present in psychoanalytic offices. But music is more all-encompassing, has
    a greater reach; even somebody who never went to the cinema certainly has
    a radio and listens to music.

    What is more, popular
    music had and has composers, principally from the generation of the seventies,
    a critical generation, who went to university, were from the middle class,
    were politicized—Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Gilberto Gil, Milton
    Nascimento, artists who think about Brazil, as well as making music.

    Chico Science and Nação
    Zumbi do not exactly represent critical thought; they would instead be the
    object of what has until today been the critical thought in MPB, an object
    that begins to manifest itself, to stop being an object in order to become
    a subject.

    Moving from objects of
    criticism to subjects creating a language, the poor young men of the great
    cities of Brazil are beginning to produce a differentiated space for the expression
    of their experience.

    Until recently the politicized
    composers of the middle class were concerned with poverty, exclusion, marginality,
    with the condition of the other, which was portrayed or denounced in their
    songs.

    What we heard in Mangue
    Beat is the drumbeat, the sound of marginality itself. The sound of the other.
    What they produce is not exactly critical thought as far as they themselves
    are concerned, but rather a sort of inclusion through the word, the rhythm,
    and the very individual, quite aggressive beat, that is the strong mark of
    their presence in Brazil.

    It is as if they were
    saying "listen, we are here on the scene". It is a not an analysis
    of the conditions in which they live, it is a way of including themselves
    in the scene.

    Musical Community

    Vinicius de Moraes, in
    his famous samba, the "Samba da Bênção," intermixes
    spoken passages between the sung passages. In the third and last of these
    passages, marked by the sweet and continuous lulling beat of the bossa
    nova, Vinicius de Moraes pays great homage to the black composers of samba.

    In this homage he creates
    something like a community of composers, particularly of the composers of
    samba, the black composers, a community in which he wants to include himself,
    as the "blackest white in Brazil". We hear the voice of Vinicius
    de Moraes paying homage, as if he were with the same act naming this community,
    creating this community symbolically.

    As Maria Alice Rezende
    de Carvalho said so well, this was not a Brazilian community; it was much
    more a Carioca community that in the samba by Vinicius was projected
    into Brazil.

    And Vinicius says: "Saravá
    (Hail)Cartola, Pixinguinha, Nelson Cavaquinho, Saravá Sinhô,
    Ismael Silva, Donga, Noel, (a white composer) Lupicínio" (a gaúcho,
    from the south). Vinicius and Baden Powell salute the black community of the
    Brazilian samba.

    This makes me think of
    one of the raps of the Racionais MC’s on the CD Sobrevivendo no Inferno
    (Surviving in Hell), in which Mano Brown does something similar
    to what Vinicius de Moraes did, just in reverse.

    In Brown’s salute to the
    community of rap, the accompaniment never is the light and ironic, somewhat
    "blue" beat of the bossa nova; it is a sort of continuous
    buzzing, an electronic moan, marked by a subtle and menacing punctuation,
    which produces a somewhat apprehensive feeling in the listener.

    Mano Brown’s voice is
    low in both senses of the word; it has a saddened note, without shine. His
    long list of names does not create a community of authors, of consecrated
    poets; they are not names of people that he is including in this community;
    he is enumerating the neighborhoods of the peripheries of the cities of Brazil.

    This is also not a happy
    salute, he is not greeting them as in the case of the happy "Saravá!"
    in which Vinicius de Moraes seems to be saying: "you are great composers,
    you are the best, and I include myself among you".

    The meaning is different,
    it is that of a lament for the excluded. Brown begins by stringing together
    names of neighborhoods from the interminable periphery of São Paulo:

    "Hello Jardim Japão,
    Jardim Hebron, Jardim Ângela, Capão Redondo, Cidade de Deus,
    Cidade Ademar, Peri Peri, Brasilândia, Campo Limpo, Itaquera, Cohab
    1, Cohab 2… ".

    Then he leaves São
    Paulo for other cities: "Tabatinga, Boréu, Camaragibe, Candiau…"
    this takes about three minutes without stopping, in which he is simply naming,
    one after another, the peripheries, and finally concluding with "Jorge
    da Capadócia", the invocation of the saint who seals the body
    of the poet and protects him from all evil.

    Private and Public

    The people of Mangue Beat
    come from one of these peripheries, from the neighborhood of Rio Doce in Recife.
    Their art shows us that the dividing line between the public and the private
    is broken, in an absolute way, in the conditions of poverty and misery of
    these great urban peripheries in Brazil, where private life is absolutely
    invaded by the public dimension, or rather by its absence.

    If there no windows marking
    the transition between the house and the street in the neighborhood of Rio
    Doce, it is not because the windows are closed to the street, it is because
    the street is already inside the house. There is no true privacy, nothing
    that protects the subject who lives in a shack in the periphery from being
    absolutely invaded by the street.

    The relation of one inside
    the house with the street is not one of contemplation. The street invades
    everything with its violence, filth, its indignity. The public invades the
    private not by its excess, but by its lack; privacy is unprotected due to
    the irresponsibility of the State in relation to the public space in the poor
    neighborhoods of the great cities of Brazil.

    It is not a matter of
    the politicization of daily life. One does not find in the lyrics of the songs
    a mention of public life in the sense of a politically articulated project
    uniting all the community in the common space of the street or the square.

    On the contrary. It is
    the disregard by this republic for public space, the fact that nothing guarantees
    to the individual that the government will assume its public responsibility
    for some essential aspects of life, those same ones that all politicians mention
    in their speeches: transportation, health, education, basic sanitation, security.

    This leaves the citizen
    absolutely exposed to the vicissitudes of the public space. Each day he must
    resolve, by himself, the problems of the infrastructure of life that should
    be the responsibility of the government.

    In this sense, in the
    favelas and in the mangue, the concept of privacy does not even
    exist as a value, since this is a bourgeois cultural value, nor as a possibility,
    since private life is invaded by questions that ought to be within the purview
    of the government.

    The more the government
    abandons the population, the more the private dimension of the life of the
    wretched disappears. That is to day, public life affects the most intimate
    corners of what ought to be private for the subject.

    A more well-known example
    for us in Brazil, which for decades has been a theme of music from the Northeast,
    is the effect of the punishing drought on individual lives. As Luís
    Gonzaga sings in "Retorno da Asa Branca":

    "…And if the harvest
    doesn’t spoil my plans
    Mr. Vicar,
    I am going to marry
    by the end of the year."

    "… E se a safra
    não atrapalhar meus planos,
    quê que há,
    ó seu vigário,
    vou casar no fim
    do ano".

    The harvest depends on
    the drought, the singer can make his plans for living with his beloved if
    the drought doesn’t get in the way, because if it does there will be no wedding.

    There is no project for
    individual, private life in the face of the punishing drought, and we know
    that this is not a natural disaster—it is a calamity provoked by decades
    of bad public administration in the states of the Northeast.

    Popular Culture Lives

    To change our point of
    view a little, Chico Science and the Mangue Beat groups which survived his
    death also represent a rather recent phenomenon in Brazilian musical production,
    which is the fact that the cultural industry and the mass culture, instead
    of having destroyed peripheral popular cultures, on the contrary, made possible
    an unexpected inclusion of marginal expressions.

    I say this because, in
    the seventies, when I was working as a journalist in the area of culture for
    several independent newspapers, our great worry was that all the regional,
    unique, truly popular manifestations, which were still resisting massification,
    were doomed to disappear, crushed by pop, and especially by American pop,
    through the invasion of foreign mass culture into Brazil.

    Just that the opposite
    happened. Or rather, not exactly the opposite, because today there is a massification,
    a very serious descent to the lowest common denominator in the production
    of culture for the masses in Brazil and around the world.

    But as the cultural industry
    itself has to nourish itself with novelties, a space for different music,
    which we had not foreseen, was opening up in the musical market.

    Today the art produced
    by small groups, groups which represent a very individual regional reality,
    can gain access to the market rather easily. The diversification of Brazilian
    popular music is much greater than it would have been in the seventies, when
    we imagined that it would be extinguished entirely.

    One example of this is
    the Carnaval in Bahia. It is true that most of the space in the Carnaval,
    at least in the media, is occupied by the trios elétricos. The
    TV networks fight over the rights to broadcast to the whole of Brazil a party
    with thousands of people from São Paulo, Minas, and Curitiba dancing
    the porno foolishness which is axé music, inhaling the smoke
    from the trucks and protected from the rest of the multitude by the strength
    of the arms of poor blacks from Salvador who are holding the ropes, like galley
    slaves, so they can earn five or ten reais a day. Even Carlinhos Brown
    commented on the direction of axé music, the poetic quality
    of which is dropping every year.

    But at the same time,
    in the Carnaval in Bahia, there are appearing, or reappearing new Afro groups,
    based on the worship tradition of less well-known orixás, remembering
    the celebrations of slaves coming from other African nations, revitalizing
    the expression of cultures that were disappearing.

    The singular makes space
    for itself within the sameness of the mass culture.

    In this sense the Northeast
    is very rich. The traditions of embolada, of the desafios (challenges)
    of the players of the viola, of cordel poetry, of the rhythms
    of coco, ciranda, of maracatu, are very strong, and carry
    on a free dialog with the influences of international pop, producing an absolutely
    new sonority.

    This liberty to incorporate
    and modify foreign influences is perhaps a distinguishing characteristic of
    northeastern popular culture, which since the sixteenth and seventeenth century
    assimilated elements of the Portuguese cancioneiro, producing a free
    translation of the imagery of the culture of the colonizing elite for the
    reality of life in the sertão.

    There a dialogue in reverse
    was taking place, in which the use of some signifiers, of some strong images,
    taken out of their original context, caused them to acquire meanings completely
    different from the originals, thus creating a renovation of popular tradition.

    Black Roots

    These new composers and
    groups from the northeast affirm the tradition of the verses of the embolada,
    of the rhythms of maracatu, with an irony that marks the distance between
    the origin which was lost and the musicality of the black traditions that
    these young people still carry in their blood.

    Maracatu is the
    rhythm that is most present in the music of Nação Zumbi, but
    it has a religious, Afro-Brazilian origin, that is not preserved in Mangue
    Beat. Maracatu was the name of a festival celebrated in Pernambuco
    by groups of slaves called "nations," that would process from the
    churches of the Rosary, the churches reserved for blacks, churches for slaves
    prohibited from entering in the others, where the whites were praying.

    At the doors of their
    churches the blacks would play drums and do a dance simulating scenes from
    the Portuguese court. There still exist some "nations" of maracatu
    in Recife: the Leão Coroado (Crowned Lion), the Pavão Dourado
    (Gilded Peacock), the Elefante (Elephant)—and now, Nação
    Zumbi.

    In the maracatus,
    the slaves were enacting a nobility which was not that of the African nations,
    but of the court of their masters. But in this court, in addition to the figures
    of the king, the queen, the princes, there are also drummers, caboclos
    and baianas, as well as the calunga, a white cloth doll
    carried by the "dama do paço" (lady of the palace).

    This doll bore the name
    of the god Calunga, an entity representing the sea for Angolans—the same
    sea that separated enslaved blacks from the African lands.

    The maracatu of
    Chico Science, of Nação Zumbi, is a warrior maracatu,
    which eliminates the old dimension of the imagery of the court. The nobility
    of Nação Zumbi comes from the mud, it has the bad smell of the
    mangue (marsh), of the rotten side of the big city. The tradition is
    revived ironically.

    The other appropriation
    by Chico Science in his poetry was from the tradition of the cordel.
    It is very frequent in all cordel poetry for the voice of the poet
    to outline an I that is its subjective expression but does not affirm itself
    as individuality.

    An I different from the
    expression of a private intimacy, such as the bourgeois culture recognizes,
    and which is expressed, for example, in the love songs of Chico Buarque, or
    in the subjective expansions of the verses of Caetano. It is not the I of
    a poet speaking about his particular sensibility, but an I that is diluted
    in the things around it.

    Let’s listen to the verses
    of "Mateus Enter", a song by Chico Science the name of which is
    completely enigmatic for me; I don’t know what "Mateus Enter" is.
    "Enter" refers to the "enter" key of the computer.

    The force of this music
    is absolutely rhythmic, warlike, supporting the entry of this I that has nothing
    to do with the narcissistic, bourgeois, introspective I of our university
    tradition.

    "Eu vim com a Nação
    Zumbi

    ao seu ouvido falar,

    quero ver a poeira subir e muita fumaça no ar

    cheguei com o meu universo

    e aterrisso no seu pensamento

    trago as luzes dos postes nos olhos

    rios e pontes no coração

    Pernambuco embaixo dos pés

    e minha mente na imensidão".

    "I came with Zumbi
    Nation

    to talk to your ear,

    I want to see the dust rise and lots of smoke in the air

    I came with my universe

    And I land in your thinking

    I carry the lights of the posts in my eyes

    Rivers and bridge in my heart

    Pernambuco beneath my feet

    And my mind in the immensity".

    In this music, it is important
    to note, the poet does not come by himself, he comes with his nation, as the
    blocos of Maracatu reincarnate the African nations which succumbed
    to slavery.

    He arrives with his universe,
    which is the universe of the city: the lights of the posts, the rivers, and
    the bridges form part of this public body, whose feet carry Pernambuco where
    they go.

    The "mind in the
    immensity" is what humanizes this I, and confers on it a dimension which
    extrapolates this dimension of an object among other objects.

    Living Marsh

    I want to pick up on this
    image of the "mind in the immensity" to recall that Chico Science,
    when he formed Nação Zumbi, issued the "Manifesto Mangue
    Beat" (Mangue Beat Manifesto), the symbol of which was a parabolic antenna
    stuck in the mud. The mud of the marsh.

    The mangue or marsh
    has a very important metaphorical meaning for this group, as a place throbbing
    with life, with great biodiversity, a place that resists in a certain way
    urban devastation, but that is always threatened by urbanization

    The mangue also
    represents an area of exchange, between the salt water of the sea and the
    fresh water of the rivers, between the sea and the earth. In this manifesto
    entitled "Carangueaw6kx com cérebros" (Crabs with brains),
    the members of Nação Zumbi say that they are beings from the
    mangue who think, who have brains.

    And that they are open
    to interchange, like a network of tubes and communicating voices that the
    parabolic antenna is able to capture. In this sense, you see that there is
    not exactly an affirmation of a national, Brazilian identity. What exists
    is a poetics that makes a bridge between the more regional, the neighborhood,
    the mangue, the favela, and the global.

    The national is barely
    present. The sense of brasilidade, of Brazil as an imaginary unit which
    lends to support to identities, is lost. He is a regional subject, whose mind
    is projected toward the immensity, projected toward the global.

    Chico Science was a poor
    boy from the neighborhood of Rio Doce, in Recife. He was a crabber, someone
    who went to bailes funk (funk dances), who later worked in a computer
    company, where we can suppose that the idea of a subject who exists in a "net"
    would have begun to take shape.

    A net does not necessarily
    have a central reference. A net is a crossing of many references. The manifesto
    "Carangueaw6kx com cérebro" ("Crabs with brains")
    proposes to recycle and rescue traditional rhythms of the region with the
    addition of pop elements, without making a hierarchy of values.

    Giving value to traditional
    rhythms does not have, in this case, the meaning that it had for the generation
    that came of age during the period of the military dictatorship, which sought
    in popular traditions some expression that might signify its difference in
    as far as its relation to the support of the Brazilian middle class for the
    dictatorship.

    Here we do not have the
    idea of resistance, but the acceptance of one’s origin as fate: if he is from
    Pernambuco, if he comes from this culture, it is impossible to ignore the
    influence of the maracatu, the embolada, the cordel.
    He has no desire to free himself from this, not because he is resisting other
    influences, but because the world to which he belongs imposes itself on him.

    Continuing with this brief
    biography of Chico Science, it is important to emphasize that Nação
    Zumbi was formed due to the contact that he and other young men from Rio Doce
    had with the work of a sort of NGO, a community center for popular education
    in the periphery of Recife called Daruê Malungo.

    Alternative Spaces

    There, in 1991, a bloco
    afro was formed called "Lamento Negro" (Black Lament)
    that led to Nação Zumbi. This type of social interaction created
    by the work of various NGOs is also a recent phenomenon in Brazil.

    In the face of the absence
    of that which the government ought to offer in the way of leisure centers,
    places to meet, for education, exchange of information, etc. these small projects
    by non-governmental organizations gain importance among the needy populations.

    The importance of these
    alternative spaces is enormous. It can be seen that where there is this type
    of community work, new talent, a bloco, a band, a new artist appears.

    Which proves that the
    vanishing of popular manifestations currently has a lot to do with the lack
    of spaces in which they can occur. Where a place is created, an artistic expression
    arises which may be weak or strong, but which is always necessary.

    I am going to take a look
    at some excerpts from the manifesto of Mangue Beat, which is the voice of
    this subject who is crisscrossed by the world and at the same time very close
    and very far from the rest of the world.

    "Emergency!

    A quick shock, or Recife will die of a heart attack".

    The concern here is with
    Recife, it is with the city, not the country.

    "You don’t need to
    be a doctor to know that the simplest way of stopping someone’s heart is to
    obstruct his veins. The quickest way to give a city like Recife a heart attack,
    and to empty its soul, is to kill its rivers and fill in its estuaries. What
    can be done so as to not sink in the chronic depression that paralyzes its
    citizens? How can it regain its spirit, be delobotomized, recharge its batteries?"

    From the outset the reader
    does not know what Chico Science is referring to, whether it is the rivers
    that are dying, the mangue that is dying or the intelligence that is
    dying. All it takes is injecting a little energy from the mud and stimulating
    what there is left of fertility in Recife’s veins.

    "In the middle of
    1991 a center for research and production of pop ideas began to be generated
    and articulated in various points in the city. The objective is to engender
    a circuit of energy, capable of connecting the good vibrations of the mangues
    with the world circulatory network".

    Mangue Folks

    The circuit that is created
    goes from the mangue to the world. A circulation of pop concepts. Here
    the factory of concepts is already pop culture. There is no school here. They
    symbolic image is a parabolic antenna stuck in the mud.

    Here is the cultural panorama
    captured by the mangue’s antenna:

    "The mangue-boys
    and mangue-girls are individuals interested in: comics, interactive
    TV, anti-psychiatry, Bezerra da Silva, hip-hop, midiotia, artismo,
    street music, John Coltrane, chance, non-virtual sex, ethnic conflicts and
    all the advances of chemistry applied in the area of alteration and expansion
    of consciousness".

    The "advances of
    chemistry" are a rather explicit reference to drugs capable of "altering
    and expanding consciousness". As for the rest, the enumeration of the
    elements with which the mangue-boys and mangue-girls identify
    reminds one of the lyrics of a song from the tropicália era.

    But I don’t know if we
    can consider them as the sons/grandsons of tropicália, or as
    a symptomatic expression of the Brazil which tropicália was
    describing in the sixties.

    This enumeration, which
    seems tropicalist, does not produce the effect of a saturation, of the critical
    nonsense typical of the tropicalist esthetic. It is creating a field of identification
    for the poor young men and women of his generation.

    Perhaps we need to know
    the work of Nação Zumbi. There is a portion of a song by Chico
    Science called "Banditismo por uma questão de classe" (Banditry
    for reason of class), from the CD Da lama ao caos (From the mud to chaos),
    in which he repeats the refrain:

    "Banditry for pure
    evil

    Banditry by necessity.

    Banditry for pure evil

    Banditry for reason of class".

    In this case, "reason
    of class" has a double meaning. Banditry can be a matter of class or
    a matter of style. It is worth listening to the "opening speech"
    of this song, which is called "Monólogo ao pé do ouvido"
    (Monologue in a Whispering Tone). It is a rather confusing speech:

    "Modernizar o passado
    é uma revolução musical

    Cadê as notas que estavam aqui ?

    Eu não preciso delas

    Basta deixar tudo soando bem aos ouvidos.

    O medo dá origem ao mal

    O homem coletivo

    Sente a necessidade de lutar

    O orgulho, a arrogância, a glória

    Enchem a imaginação de domínio

    São demônios os que destroem o poder

    bravio da humanidade.

    Viva Zapata! Viva Sandino!

    Antônio Conselheiro, todos os Panteras Negras

    Lampião, sua imagem e semelhança.

    Eu tenho certeza: também eles cantaram um dia".

    "Modernizing the
    past is a musical revolution

    Where are the notes that used to be here?

    I don’t need them

    Everything just has to sound good.

    Fear leads to evil

    The collective man

    Feels the necessity of fighting

    Pride, arrogance, glory

    Fill the imagination with domination

    They are demons, those who destroy the savage power of

    Humanity.

    Long live Zapata! Long live Sandino!

    Antônio Conselheiro, all the Black Panthers

    Lampião, his image and resemblance.

    I am certain that they also sang one day".

    Chico Science does not
    need the "notes that used to be here", the notes of the past, to
    make his musical revolution. Without them, he can still make everything sound
    good.

    But his "revolution"
    does not break with all of the past; he recognizes a dimension that surpasses
    the individual, speaks in the name of a "collective man" whose ancestry
    is based on a rather fantastic sort of ideological miscegenation.

    He names his antecedents,
    who range from the revolutionaries Zapata and Sandino, to the messianic monarchist
    Antônio Conselheiro, from the Black Panthers to Lampião, who
    perhaps might have put various humble ancestors of Chico Science himself to
    the sword.

    What these men have in
    common is their marginal condition in relation to power, even though some
    were victorious in their struggle. They are together in the same manifesto
    because, as the music says later,

    "Acontece hoje, acontecia
    no sertão

    quando um bando de macaco perseguia Lampião.

    E o que ele falava outros ainda falam

    `eu carrego comigo coragem, dinheiro e bala’"

    "It happens today,
    it happened in the sertão

    when a bunch of monkeys chased Lampião.

    And what he said, others still say

    `I carry with me courage, money, and bullets’".

    "Courage, money,
    and bullet" are what link the imagination of Chico Science to the memory
    of his idols.

    Savage Revolution

    It is not easy to decide
    if he is quoting the men full of "pride, arrogance and glory" who
    destroyed the savage power of humanity, or if he is naming those who represent
    the savage power of humanity. The absence of irony here draws the attention.

    This discourse is read
    with a certain solemnity, like a manifesto that is calling for some confused
    type of revolution, or at least for resistance in the name of these figures
    who perhaps represent the "savage power of humanity".

    Another song which is
    important as a illustration of my reflection concerning the absence of a representation
    of private life in this imaginarium is "Manguetown", which is on
    the second CD from Nação Zumbi called Afrociberdelia:

    "Estou enfiado na
    lama

    é um bairro sujo

    onde os urubus têm casa

    e eu não tenho asas

    mas estou aqui em minha casa

    onde os urubus têm asas

    vou pintando, segurando as paredes do mangue do meu quintal

    manguetown

    andando por entre os becos

    andando em coletivos

    ninguém foge ao cheiro sujo

    da lama da manguetown

    andando por entre becos

    andando em coletivos

    ninguém foge ao cheiro sujo

    da lama da manguetown

    andando por entre becos

    andando em coletivos

    ninguem foge à vida suja dos dias da manguetown

    esta noite sairei

    vou beber com meus amigos

    e com as asas que os urubus me deram ao dia

    eu voarei por toda a periferia

    vou sonhando com a mulher

    que talvez eu possa encontrar

    ela também vai andar

    na lama do meu quintal

    manguetown

    "I am stuck in the
    mud

    it is a filthy neighborhood

    where the vultures live

    and I don’t have wings

    but I am at home here

    where the vultures have wings

    I am painting, holding up the walls of the mangue of my backyard

    Manguetown

    Walking down the alleys

    Going in vans

    No one flees the filthy smell

    Of the mud of manguetown

    Tonight I will go out

    I will drink with my friends

    And with the wings that the vultures gave us one day

    I will fly through all the periphery

    Dreaming of the woman

    That perhaps I might find

    She will also walk

    In the mud of my backyard

    Manguetown"

    Once again, note that
    the beat is aggressive and the musical construction is not melodic. It is
    not yet a spoken poem, as in the case of rap, but the musicality is reduced
    to two or three minimal, contained, that only open up a little in the refrain.

    To begin with, where is
    this guy speaking from? He talks to us from the mud, the mangue, the
    chaos, and not from the privacy of his room or his window to the world:

    "Estou enfiado na
    lama

    é um bairro sujo

    onde os urubus tem casa

    e eu não tenho asas"

    "I am stuck in the
    mud

    it is a filthy neighborhood

    where the vultures live

    and I don’t have wings"

    That is to say: the vultures
    have somewhere to live, they have the house that the poet doesn’t, and the
    poet does not have the wings that the vultures do.

    "Mas estou aqui em
    minha casa

    onde os urubus têm asas

    vou pintando, segurando as paredes do mangue do meu quintal"

    Walls that exist because
    he sustains them, "painting, holding up" the walls of the mangue
    which is no different than his backyard. The entry of the refrain follows,
    which projects the subject into the collective space of the city:

    "Andando por entre
    os becos

    andando em coletivos

    ninguém foge ao cheiro sujo

    da lama da manguetown…"

    "Walking down the
    alleys

    Going in vans

    No one flees the filthy smell

    Of the mud of manguetown"

    This refrain is repeated
    over and over again. The mud of manguetown gets into everything, and no one
    can escape its filthy smell.

    From here on, another
    value will appear in the poem. The question of sociability, which is revealed
    as much in rap as in the Mangue Beat movement, will be affirmed in the form
    of philia, of friendship.

    The predominant idea here
    is that the space that the singer considers to be his is not the isolation
    of the home, but rather the point where he meets his friends; this is an idea
    that is very present in this type of music, in the production of these young
    groups from the peripheries. Thus the second part of the song says:

    "Essa noite sairei,


    vou beber com os meus amigos

    e com as asas que os urubus nos deram um dia …"

    "Tonight I will go
    out

    I will drink with my friends

    And with the wings that the vultures gave us one day…"

    Observe that the poet
    begins by saying that "I don’t have wings", "the vultures have
    wings and I don’t have wings". But when he goes out to drink with friends
    he acquires the "wings that the vultures gave us one day."

    You may interpret them
    as wings of imagination, of daring, of happiness, whatever they may be, he
    does not name them. The following metaphor is sweeping as well. With the wings
    that the vultures gave him and his friends one day….

    "Eu voarei por toda
    a periferia

    vou sonhando com a mulher

    que talvez eu possa encontrar"

    I will fly through all
    the periphery

    Dreaming of the woman

    That perhaps I might find"

    Here we think—ah,
    here is a cliché, a dream typical of the poetics that we have been
    analyzing up until now, of the middle class, of private life, of intimacy,
    etc. Here is the poet of the mangue, like anyone else, "Dreaming of the
    woman / That perhaps I might find". But how does he imagine this meeting?

    "Ela também
    vai andar

    na lama do meu quintal

    manguetown"

    "She will also walk

    In the mud of my backyard

    manguetown"

    And here the refrain comes
    in:

    "Fui no mangue catar
    lixo

    pegar caranguejo, conversar com urubu"

    "I went to the mangue
    to pick through trash,

    to catch crabs, to talk with the vulture"

    If he is going to find
    a woman, she is not at all like the idealized muses of the popular imagination;
    she will be stuck in the mud with him, talking with the vultures together
    with him, that is to say, it is not a matter of "our love and a cabin",
    but of conversing with vultures. And to pick through trash.

    No Lyricism Here

    This was the song "Manguetown".
    It is not easy to go far in reflecting on it because the register of this
    song is not reflective, it limits itself to presenting, not the intimacy of
    the poetic voice, but the circumstances of the existence of the subject.

    This authorial I is an
    I invaded by the city, and every time that this image gains a poetic force,
    this poetic force has to do with the urban element, not with any element of
    intimacy, of sensitivity, which in the lyrics of traditional MPB is identified
    with the I of an individual psychology.

    This expanding subject
    which is manifested in the verses of Chico Science and other Mangue Beat,
    which is manifested in the extremely long lyrics of rap from São Paulo
    and Rio does not resemble the I of bourgeois privacy unless in its authorial
    quality, speaking in the first person.

    As in the verse by MC
    Rap’Hood: "Eu tô com o microfone/ é tudo no meu
    nome" (I got the mike / it’s all about me). He is a subject with
    his own name who takes into his I the echoes of the collectivity to which
    he belongs.

    The degraded public space
    of Brazil in the eighties and nineties makes way for a sort of territory that
    is at the same time terrain for subjectivity—affection, friendship, of
    the identifications of these young artists—and the space of the city
    that for them, from the poetic point of view, does not have frontiers.

    It begins at the periphery,
    in the mud of the mangue, flies over the planet and projects itself
    into the space of the transmission from the parabolic antennas.

    Discography:

    Gonzaga, L. Luiz Gonzaga
    canta seus sucessos com Zé Dantas. São Paulo: RCA Victor,
    p1959. 1 record.

    Racionais MC’s. Sobrevivendo
    no Inferno. São Paulo: Cosa Nostra, p1998. 1 CD.

    Morais, V. Autógrafos
    de Sucesso. Rio de Janeiro: Phonogram, p1974. 1 record.

    Chico Science & Nação
    Zumbi. Afrocyberdelia. Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1996. 1 CD.

    Chico Science & Nação
    Zumbi. Da lama ao caos. Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1994. 1
    CD.

    Discographical
    Notes:

    1 MORAIS, V.
    Samba da Benção. V. Morais. In: Autógrafos de Sucesso.
    Guanabara: Fontana, p1974. Guanabara: Fontana, p1974. 1 disco sonoro. Lado
    1 , faixa 5.

    2 MORAIS, V.
    Samba da Benção. V. Morais. In: Autógrafos de Sucesso.
    Rio de Janeiro: Phonogram, p1974. Rio de Janeiro: Phonogram, p1974. 1 disco
    sonoro. Lado 1 , faixa 5.

    3 RACIONAIS
    MC’S. Salve. I. Blue, M. Brown. In: Sobrevivendo no Inferno. São
    Paulo: Cosa Nostra, p1998. 1 CD. Faixa 13.

    4 RACIONAIS
    MC’S. Salve. I. Blue, M. Brown. In: Sobrevivendo no Inferno. São
    Paulo: Cosa Nostra, p1998. 1 CD. Faixa 13.

    5 GONZAGA,
    L. A volta da Asa Branca. Zédantas, L. Gonzaga In: Luiz Gonzaga
    canta seus sucessos com Zé Dantas. São Paulo: RCA Victor,
    p1959. São Paulo: RCA Victor, p1959. 1 disco sonoro. Lado A, Faixa
    4.

    6 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. Mateus Enter. C. Science, N. Zumbi. In: Afrocyberdelia.
    Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1996. 1 CD. Faixa 1.

    7 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. Carangueaw6kx com Cérebro. C. Science
    & N. Zumbi. In: Da lama ao caos, p1994. 1 CD (encarte).

    8 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. Carangueaw6kx com Cérebro. C. Science
    & N. Zumbi. In: Da lama ao caos, p1994. 1 CD (encarte).

    9 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. Carangueaw6kx com Cérebro. C. Science
    & N. Zumbi. In: Da lama ao caos, p1994. 1 CD (encarte).

    10 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. [Monólogo ao pé do ouvido]
    Banditismo por uma questão de classe. C. Science. In: Da lama ao
    caos. Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1994. 1 CD. Faixa 1.

    11 SCIENCE,
    C. & NAÇÃO Z. [Monólogo ao pé do ouvido] Banditismo
    por uma questão de classe. C. Science. In: Da lama ao caos.
    Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1994. 1 CD. Faixa 1.

    12 SCIENCE,
    C. & NAÇÃO Z. [Monólogo ao pé do ouvido] Banditismo
    por uma questão de classe. C. Science. In: Da lama ao caos.
    Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1994. 1 CD. Faixa 1.

    13 SCIENCE,
    C. & NAÇÃO Z. [Monólogo ao pé do ouvido] Banditismo
    por uma questão de classe. C. Science. In: Da lama ao caos.
    Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1994. 1 CD. Faixa 1.

    14 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. Manguetown. L. Maia, Dengue, C. Science.
    In: Afrocyberdelia. Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1996. 1 CD.
    Faixa 12.

    15 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. Manguetown. L. Maia, Dengue, C. Science.
    In: Afrocyberdelia. Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1996. 1 CD.
    Faixa 12.

    16 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. Manguetown. L. Maia, Dengue, C. Science.
    In: Afrocyberdelia. Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1996. 1 CD.
    Faixa 12.

    17 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. Manguetown. L. Maia, Dengue, C. Science.
    In: Afrocyberdelia. Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1996. 1 CD.
    Faixa 12.

    18 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. Manguetown. L. Maia, Dengue, C. Science.
    In: Afrocyberdelia. Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1996. 1 CD.
    Faixa 12.

    19 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. Manguetown. L. Maia, Dengue, C. Science.
    In: Afrocyberdelia. Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1996. 1 CD.
    Faixa 12.

    20 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. Manguetown. L. Maia, Dengue, C. Science.
    In: Afrocyberdelia. Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1996. 1 CD.
    Faixa 12.

    21 CHICO SCIENCE
    & NAÇÃO ZUMBI. Manguetown. L. Maia, Dengue, C. Science.
    In: Afrocyberdelia. Rio de Janeiro: Chaos/Sony Music, p1996. 1 CD.
    Faixa 12.


    Maria Rita Kehl is a psychoanalyst, writer and poet, the author
    of three books of poetry and the books of essays A mínima
    diferença—o masculino e o feminino na cultura.
    She was born in Campinas, São Paulo state, in 1951
    and is a doctor of clinical psychology. You can reach her
    emailing mritak@uol.com.br.

    Translated
    from the Portuguese by Tom Moore. Moore has been fascinated
    by the language and culture of Brazil since 1994. He translates
    from Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and German, and
    is also active as a musician. Comments welcome at querflote@hotmail.com.

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