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Brazilian hip-hop artist Emicida captures youth culture in Sao Paulo

Clipe oficial da música
Clipe oficial da música "Levanta e Anda" (Emicida/Rael/Beatnick & K-Salaam), do disco "O Glorioso Retorno de Quem Nunca Esteve Aqui". © Todos os direitos reservados a Laboratório Fantasma Produções
Emicida (via YouTube)

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Brazil is known for great soccer, great beaches and samba music.

Now the artist Emicida is putting Brazilian hip-hop on the world map as well, raising hot topics such as poverty, wealth and social progress in his music. One of his latest songs is called, "Levante e Anda," ("Get Up, Stand Up"), and the video opens with a shot of a barefoot child sitting on a soccer ball on a dirt field.

"It's a biographical song about Emicida and his brother growing up in the ghetto of Sao Paulo," says reporter Lucia Duncan, who recently interviewed Emicida in his recording studios. "The lyrics talk about the importance of having a dream and a plan to get ahead in life."

For Emicida, much of his plan has to do with harnessing the possibilities of new technology in order to reach a broader audience.

"In Brazil in the last 10 years we've seen that the Internet is different than TV. You decide what you want to consume," he says in Portuguese. "And this has revolutionized hip-hop. It has revolutionized ghetto culture in general."

Emicida and his brother's record label, Laboritorio Fantasma, is an example of a more independent and more entrepreneurial-minded form of hip-hop that's emerging in Brazil, says Duncan.

"The hip-hop scene in Sao Paulo is in the process of reinventing itself," Duncan told Take Two. Brazilian hip-hop used to copy the sound from the U.S., but is now starting to introduce other elements, such as funk or samba, and open up to provide a platform for female artists. 

For Emicida, this progress is linked to addressing a long history of social ills in his country, Brazil, such as slavery and exclusion. But that takes time.

"We've got a 500-year-history of cruelty, lots of inequality," he says. "We can't fix all that in 15 or 10 years."