One of the highlights of this month is the release of new album AmarElo by Emicida – the Brazilian MC already being tipped for greatness the world over. AmarElo delivers a conscious message of hope and love for all. He is also a producer, fashion designer and one of the most important progressive black voices in Brazil right now.
AmarElo is Brazilian in terms of musical nature, but also covers gospel, rock, jazz, samba, trap and of course hip hop, being recorded primarily at Emicida’s Lab Fantasma Studio in Sao Paulo and featuring collaborations with Cuban duo Ibeyi, as well as Brazilian heavyweights like Zeca Pagodinho, Marcos Valle and Dona Onete. It also fuses the machismo of Brazilian hip hop with LGBTQ culture, as singers Majur and Pabllo Vittar, who identify as non binary, join forces with Emicida on the title track.
Emicida’s rise started in a Sao Paulo favela and he now has over 250 million Spotify streams. He was the first rapper from Brazil to perform at Coachella festival in the US and has played Roskilde, Montreux, SXSW and Jazz Café in the UK. The lyrics are conscious and are inspired from a wide range of sources. For example, Brazilian gospel singing pastors Fabiana Cozza, Pastor Henrique Vieira and Pastoras do Rosário also appear.
Principia features the singing pastors from different denominations – it’s Emcida’s way of expressing his belief that religion need not be binary. The album’s focus on faith for everyone is particularly pertinent, as Brazil has seen a major rise in evangelists (almost a third of the population and the government) and in recent months, particularly in Rio, tens of Afro-based religious facilities have been destroyed or damaged. Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religious tradition and very common faith in the favela populations – it has become a scapegoat and ‘enemy of the people’.
Cuban duo Ibeyi make it an MC trio for their second collaboration, after their first outing with Hacia El Amor back in 2018 in partnership with UK label XL Recordings. Soon after that release, the trio played New York’s Afropunk Festival together. Libre is the follow up to that artistic and cross-cultural success.
Other standout tracks include the title track featuring singers Majur and Pabllo Vittar, their video has had nearly six million views and offers a new wave of consciousness within hip-hop, transmitting a message of resistance by the LGBTQ community. An important step with Brazil suffering one of the highest rates of hate crimes against LGBTQ people in the world.
Emicida’s career started out as a freestyle rapper, battling out famous rhymes and engaging in rap battles and disputes between fellow MCs. In 2009, he independently launched his first mixtape, selling over 10,000 copies and making him famous all over Brazil. AmarElo is his third album and comes out on his Lab Fantasma imprint.