The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent
Note from BW of Brazil: We will file today’s piece under the “long-time coming” archive! BW of Brazil has known about and been checking the young artist featured in today’s post for some time. She has actually been featured in past posts, but never as the main topic. Fact is, the intent was to post an article written by Jarid Arraes about the artist, Yzalú, when it first appeared back in March of 2014. But as so many stories, events and controversies come about everyday, the Yzalú story kept being put on the back burner. March turned into June, turned into 2015 and now 2016. Sounds cliche, it is really is amazing how times flies. Yzalú’s song “Mulheres Negras”, meaning ‘black women’ has gone on to become somewhat of an anthem within black women’s activist circles and when news broke that she would soon release her first CD (originally scheduled for release in 2014), this writer knew that this blog could no longer delay devoting an entire post about this dynamic singer/musician.
Below, we present, first, the article from 2014 and second the news of the release of her first CD, symbolically a few days ago, on the International Women’s Day.
Yzalú, a black feminist of ghetto music
By Jarid Arraes
When a video of the periphery music artist Yzalú went viral for the first time, there was a lot of commotion among members of feminist movements: the song “Mulheres Negras (Black Women)” – composed by Eduardo of Facção Central – served as a kind of flag to music, bringing in its lyrics many agendas and political demands, with an exciting interpretation for black women who watched the video. This episode has awakened in many people a deeper curiosity about Yzalú, who won fans in various corners of Brazil with her musicality and, above all, her politics.
The artist, born on the outskirts of São Paulo, began making music at age 16, after a period of “writer’s block”, and explains that it all happened because of her mother: “My interest in music came through the vinyl albums that my mother had at home, while she went to work I was digging around, I had a lot of things, I remember, from Bezerra da Silva to Djavan. The first vinyl I put on to play was “Dignidade (Dignity)” of Leci Brandão.
Yzalú says that she’s happy for never having suffered discrimination for addressing gender issues in her music, even bringing a different element to Rap with the introduction of the guitar. In addition, she is optimistic on collaboration and acceptance of the men of Hip Hop, defining their relationship as sensitizing of the cause. “Yes a collaboration exists, but I and partners in Hip Hop like Amanda NegraSim (meaning “black woman, yes”), Cris SNJ Preta Feminina, Lua Rodrigues, Stefanie Roberta, Karol Realidade Cruel (meaning “Cruel Reality”), Shirley Casa Verde, Dory de Oliveira, Karol Conká, among other minas (B-girls), want to show woman in Hip Hop as a natural part of this culture. There are no concerns for quotas because really with our femininity, we have a lot of musical ability, and, for our happiness, it has worked very well, the guys have assimilated and evolved so much on this issue.”
Already in society as a whole, the outlook is not so positive. The singer is deeply aware of the social issues that permeate blackness and gender – and it couldn’t be otherwise, because she’s not afraid of declaring herself a feminist. “I and all the women of the favela (slum), the periphery, mainly black women, are feminists without knowing that we are, because they struggle every day to feed their children, don’t lower their heads see themselves in humiliating situations while visiting their sons in jail.”
But there are certain points to think about. Yzalú says her feminist audience is comprised of women from the periphery, which share the same reality. In the song “Mulheres Negras) Black Women), she pointedly declares the differences between White Feminism and Black Feminism, bringing the spotlight to invisibilized and neglected agendas of black, poor and working women. In addition to art, there’s a lot of consciousness and ownership over what Yzalú says and believes, because she replies in a simple manner to issues that could be intentionally entangled by an academic approach. For her, being a black woman is inseparable from her identity, since her process of consciousness involved, necessarily, her personal experience.
“I went through many situations in my life, I had a great discriminatory routine and, without even knowing what I was doing, totally contaminated by the standards of the media and Eurocentric beauty, like a real zombie, I sought in a moment, unconsciously, to fit into standards of this ruling class in order to be accepted. However, I always perceived that looks toward me and dealings were different from other women who had natural acceptable standards to this society. It was then that I began to understand that the entire web from the slave quarters that was woven for us. If we yield to the web, we will always be subordinate through the eyes of this supremacy, but when we undo it, we see in a transparent form the rage of the defeat.”
Her words are poignant because they are genuine and Yzalú is not afraid to call on women for this political confrontation. She realizes that there is a charge in order that blacks and Hip Hop artists are politicized and militant, but reinforces the importance of this: “it’s a fact that we don’t have an opinion for everything, but I believe that information is of extreme importance. We must be attentive to the facts, because the Rap public is an extremely intelligent public, unlike other genres, they know by heart a 9-minute song and seek information about what the song is about, the information and politicization is part of Hip Hop culture and we cannot escape flee from this.” For many black feminists, this position is a relief because the idealization of the artist activist is congruent with their reality and their daily practice. In several cases, militancy creates expectations and ends in frustration, but while nobody is perfect, Yzalú doesn’t disappoint with her activism.
According Yzalú, her first CD will be released later in 2014, in addition to 3 videos in the next 5 months. And the good news does not stop there: the invitation to the release is not limited only to the newsroom of Revista Fórum and the intimations are not restricted to the artistic field, because Yzalú, feminist black woman from the periphery, summons: “Sisters, let’s open the our eyes, let’s wake up to all that surrounds us, the act of courage is a door that opens itself to freedom, for the future that begins in a relieving way in our lives. We don’t continue being chained in our minds, we are definitely liberated.”
Yzalú releases, on International Women’s Day, Minha Bossa é Treta
Produced by Marcelo Sanches, album features references from Jazz, Samba, Rap and MPB
Courtesy of AfroBrasileiros.net
After being involved in the music scene for 13 years, Yzalú released, on International Women’s Day, her first album, Minha Bossa é Treta. “I worked as a Logistics Analyst in a multinational company, but a year ago, I decided to leave that career to dedicate myself fully to music. I’m 33 years old and only now could I record my first album, saving every penny, working overtime and a series of shows to finance the dream of having my own work material of work. It’s never too late to try to live what you love, just believe and don’t expect them to do for you, right? If there is truth and will, just do it!” says the artist.
With 12 tracks produced by Marcelo Sanches, Minha Bossa é Treta brings musical references such as, Jazz, Samba, Rap, Afrobeat and MPB (Brazilian Popular Music). In addition, the album has the participation of rapper Pazsado and includes a unique composition of Sabotage (1) where Yzalú explores a marginal bossa, investing only in her voice and guitar chords.
“This is the continuation of something that started in 2003 and represents, with much happiness, all that I am. Minha Bossa é Treta is simple, true and intense. It’s an unknown universe, inviting and worth knowing. It was directed and produced by the great guitarist Marcelo Sanches, who respected and understood my art. The musicians who make up this team are also wonderful, as is the case with the percussionist and singer Gustavo da Lua (member of Nação Zumbi) and drummer Bianca Predieri. I am very pleased with the result, I gave my best and I hope the audience can perceive this.”
Born in São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, Yzalú began his contact with music at 15 years old when, alone, she learned to play guitar. In 2002, he was part of the second formation of the Essência Black – a rap group formed by women.
“The female figure always brought me a lot of strength. It is no coincidence it’s being released today, International Women’s Day, my first CD. Moreover, it is noteworthy that my biggest influence was and remains the queen Dina Di (2), so essential to the rap and especially for us women who were well represented in her lyrics. I remember in 2009, I had the immense happiness to know her personally. This meeting made me see, through her, my own qualities as a black artist, coming from the hills of the outskirts of Jardim Thelma in São Bernardo do Campo. I grew up in a marginal culture … and I’m proud of it.”
Reaffirming her feminist side, Yzalú recorded in 2012, “Mulheres Negras” (Black Women), a present from rapper Eduardo Taddeo. This single, according to the singer, unmasks a veiled reality, rooted centuries ago and sustained subtly by an industry of hatred. “We black women, grow up in a society that excludes us, clearly, from the light of day. We can’t be proud of who we are and how we are. On the contrary! We are to simply obey and accept whatever they offer us. Just look at the statistics … They don’t lie.”
A member of the “Hip Hop Divas” project, the singer has appeared in shows with big names such as Detentos do Rap, Mano Brown, Dexter, Ice Blue, Lino Krizz, Detonautas and DBS.
Lyrics to “Mulheres Negras” (Eduardo Taddeo) translated into English
While the leather cuts the flesh
The metabolized pain fortified the character
The colony produced much more than captives
It made heroines who in order not to generate slaves they killed their children
We were overcome by social cancellation
The system can even turn me into a maid
But you cannot make me think like a maid
While conventional women struggle against sexism
Black women duel to defeat sexism, prejudice, racism
Fighting to reverse the annihilation process
There is no Maria Penha Law that protects us
From the violence of subjugating us to cleaning positions
From reading in the bathrooms of Hitlerite colleges,
Because of the whitening process I’m not the standard of beauty,
But in the law of the just I am the personification of determination;
Slave ships and nicknames given by the enslaver
They failed in their mission to give me an inferiority complex;
I’m not the subaltern that the master believes he constructed,
My place is not in Brazil’s ordeals;
If one day I have to enlist myself in the (drug) trafficking in the slums,
It’s because the Golden Law is nothing more than a dead text;
No need to hide, security guard,
I know you’re following me, because of my features, my braids;
I know that in your course of protecting the beach owner,
They taught that the black women leave the supermarket
With products below their skirt;
I don’t want a pot of butter or a shampoo,
I want to stop the machinery that gives me squeegee and mop;
Make my people understand that it’s inadmissible,
To settle for student grants of bad education;
I’m tired of seeing my people in the statistics,
Of single mothers, prisoners, day laborers.
The new steel doesn’t imprison my mind,
Don’t buy me and don’t make me show my teeth;
Black woman don’t be accustomed to derogatory terms,
It’s not better to have straight hair, thin nose;
Our facial features are like the letters of a document,
That keeps alive the greatest crime of all time;
Stand up for those who thrown to sea,
Don’t let them make you think that our role in the homeland
They can pay less for the same services,
Attack our religions, accusing us of spells;
Belittle our contribution to Brazilian culture,
But they cannot rip the pride of our black skin;
Black women are like kevlar blankets,
Prepared for life to handle it;
The racism, the shots, Eurocentrism,
They shake us but don’t leave our neurons captive.