Known for his wide appeal as well as his scathing social critique, the Brazilian rapper Criolo has returned with a new single and video focusing on the harm done by the country's corrupt politicians.
Much of the song’s text and imagery refers to scandals in the rapper’s home city of São Paulo, but the video’s footage of chaos and lyrics about the pain facing the marginalized now seem like nationwide concerns following the election of the severe, far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. Beatriz Brito thoroughly describes the scenes depicted in the video for those who know Portuguese or can read whatever Google Translate comes up with.
Criolo has been rapping since he was a preteen in the ‘80s, but his career has really taken off in recent years. He released his first album in 2006, but his second album, Nó Na Orelha (Knot in the Ear), made him an international star, winning best song at Brazil’s 2011 MTV Awards for "Não Existe Amor em SP" (There Is No Love in SP), and two more honors.
Criolo was drawn to rap because, even if the rappers were from L.A. or New York, they were talking about a world he recognized from his perspective under a leaky roof in the massive São Paulo favela Grajaú. He is known for his insightful writing about people striving for dignity in Brazil’s underclass.
Released right before the first round of the presidential election, "Boca de Lobo" (Mouth of the Wolf) portrays a grim—but still defiant—picture of Brazil’s politics on the ground.