“Red land, of spilled blood, by the blood of massacred warriors of the past “: with sharp words and a hip hop rhythm, the indigenous rappers of Brô MC’s they denounce the violence facing their villages in the Guaraní territory of central-western Brazil.
“They tell us that our lyrics are harsh, but it is our reality that is hard“Clemerson Batista, founder of the group together with his brother Bruno Veron and another duo of brothers, Kelvin and Charlie Peixoto, explains to AFP.
Los Brô MC’s (Brô, slang for “brother” in English) are recognized as the first indigenous rap band in Brazill. With an aesthetic that mixes body paintings, feather headdresses, jeans and sports tennis shoes, the quartet has been on the scene since 2009.
“In the villages: mercenaries, landowners. Many died defending their land,” protest “Terra vermelha”, one of the best known songs of the group.
The Brô MC’s (Brô, slang for “brother” in English) are recognized as the first indigenous rap band in Brazil. AFP photo
Those topics were written in Portuguese, but others they are sung in guaraní, language that the four rappers speak in their villages of Jaguapiru and Bororó, in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, a pole of Brazilian agribusiness, bordering Paraguay and Bolivia.
Their communities are part of the Francisco Horta Barbosa indigenous reserve, founded more than a century ago, in 1917. It is one of the most populated in the country, with about 16,000 inhabitants of the Guaraní-Kaiowá people.
“The government has displaced the indigenous people of the region and has confined them to less productive land“, says Clemerson (29), who spoke with AFP on a tour of the group in Rio de Janeiro.
“When we want to go back to the ‘Tekoha’, the sacred land of our ancestorsWe see fences that protect soy or corn plantations, “he says.
The Guaraní-Kaiowá recently filmed the advance of a tractor transformed into a tank to spread panic in the villages.
“With this ‘caveirao’, pass over houses to destroy them, even when there are inhabitants inside “, affirms Bruno (27).
Mixing feather headdresses and face paint with trendy jeans and sneakers, rappers Bro MC’s mix their traditional culture with hip-hop flair. AFP photo
“There is violence and shootings, it’s like in the favelas“Urban, continue.
The “caveirao”, literally “great skull”, is the name of armored vehicles used by police forces during, for example, raids in the favelas of Rio.
Tension on indigenous lands it has increased since the arrival to power in January 2019 of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. “We received an email threatening us, saying that they would kill us or kidnap us if we continued to denounce these violent attacks,” says Bruno.
The Brô MC’s are working on a new album that It will be called “Retomada”, as the indigenous occupations of ancestral lands handed over to farmers are called.
The four members of the group have known each other since childhood and they started rapping at school.
“My brother He started writing rap at the age of eight. We discovered this rhythm on a radio station where they played hip hop every Saturday. The kids would get together to listen to the show instead of playing soccer, “recalls Clemerson.
“At first, the older people didn’t understand what we were doing, they said that rap was not part of our culture. But when they heard our lyrics, they understood our message and they began to support us “, completes Bruno.
The project took shape when young people participated in hip hop workshops from the Central Única de las Favelas, an NGO co-founded by the famous Rio de Janeiro rapper MV Bill.
They released their first album in 2009 and the following year they were invited to participate in the inauguration ceremony of President Dilma Rousseff, in Brasilia.
In 2018 they sang at a festival in the German city of Frankfurt and last year they were due to make a tour of Europe, canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In May, the group left the reserve for the first time in a year and a half to record an edition of the television program in Rio de Janeiro “Yes to racial equality“, a ceremony that rewards the best initiatives on this subject in Brazil.