Note from BW of Brazil: Singer/rapper Negra Li has made a name for herself over the past few decades with her mixture of Hip Hop inflected beats, pop and música black (black music). The artist who was born Liliane de Carvalho is one of a handful of black women singers attempting to claim a piece of the more lucrative Brazilian Popular Music (MPB) circuit which is often difficult for Afro-Brazilian artists who don’t want to be immediately shuffled (forced) into the Samba category often reserved for black musical artists. In a recent appearance on a late night talk show, Negra Li re-united with the members of the group that introduced her to the music public and opened up a bit about being under-appreciated as a black artist and the ongoing precarious situation of Afro-Brazilians in society. Be sure to check out a few of her videos as a solo artist, in a duo and re-united with the group RZO at the end of the article.
Negra Li says she was a victim of prejudice and vents on TV
“Blacks can’t even have plastic (surgery) because already they want to change race,” said the singer during The Noite on SBT TV.
The singer Negra Li appeared on The Noite, aired by SBT, late on Friday the 17th. To Danilo Gentili, the singer who returned to be a part of her former rap group RZO (1) vented. Negra Li remembered that next year she will complete two decades of history in music and had to jump many hurdles to get recognition of the public and other artists. Li said she felt very she was a victim of prejudice.
Negra Li said he had difficulty to enter the music market because of being black and female. The fact of her being poor and from a style that is not very privileged, rap, contributed to her spending a long time in limbo. The singer also revealed that there was prejudice on the part of both sides, the rich audience but also people coming from the favela (slums). According to the famous singer, her colleagues in music also didn’t give much attention to her and for the awards she was “underestimated”. However, Li says she managed to overcome all these odds and win her place on the national scene.
“I had difficulty for being a woman, for being black, being from the periphery and starting in rap. For a while, I was in limbo. When I signed a record deal, people on the periphery didn’t like it and when I came to have money they underestimated me because I was very much from rap, and they didn’t think it was music and it was poor. In the awards I was underestimated by colleagues of popular music. They saw me and didn’t give me anything. With many years I won my respect and my place in Brazilian music,” she pointed out.
RZO is producing a new album with new songs, and that can possibly become a DVD. Sandrão, one of the group members, analyzed that rap has gained more space in the media in recent years due to the end of the stigma that the rhythm preaches violence.
“Previously, on TV, there were fewer opportunities for people from rap. Also there were many problems, such as fighting or deaths in baladas (dances), parties and shows and the news only spoke about this. They didn’t talk about our work and we had nothing to do with it.”
Still on the musical style, Helião, also from RZO, stood in favor of the new “rap ostentação” (ostentation rap). “You must have all the trends, it’ll get boring with everybody scathing, a gangster or thug. There has to be other trends to be a cool piece of music,” he said.
Li raised eyebrows again saying that the black community lives in slavery, only an intellectual one. According to her, people do not do what they want because of fear of what society will say. “Blacks can’t even have plastic (surgery) because (people will say) they want to change race,” explained Negra Li (2), who recalled that white people do it all the time, but don’t suffer from this kind of questioning. “Whites change their noses, straighten their hair all the time, but no one says anything,” continued the celebrity said that in our world there is no true freedom.
Negra Li also said that history teaches that slavery is over, but that blacks are still enslaved by other factors such as social status and skin tone. The singer’s comments in an interview with Danilo Gentili provoked repercussions on social networks. TD from Rio de Janeiro agreed her, “she’s right, it’s absurd the black himself being racist with himself.” FS from São Paulo disagreed slightly, saying that the prejudice that Negra Li reported doesn’t exist: “I think there is a barrier, but it is hardly insurmountable, what’s no use is for people to stay in coitadismo (playing the victim)”, published the guy.
Negra Li – Volta Pra Casa
Negra Li – Tudo De Novo
“Rolê na vila” part. de Negra Li e Nego Jam – RZO e convidados no Estúdio Showlivre 2014
“Luta cansativa” part. Srta Paola – RZO e convidados no Estúdio Showlivre 2014
Helião e Negra Li – Exercito do Rap (Rzo)
RZO (meaning Rapaziada da Zona Oeste) is a hip hop group founded in the late 1980s, which originated in the outskirts of the West Zone of São Paulo, in the Pirituba district. The group was responsible for presenting to the music market singer Negra Li singer and the late rapper Sabotage. The group ended its activities in 2005, but returned three years later. After this period they stopped once again, but in 2014 they returned to performances. In this great comeback, after a long absence from the stage, they marked the return of the group in a Virada Cultural 2014 show in that year and on September 30th put on a show in the ShowLivre studio, which was shown live on internet that also marked the return of singer Negra Li to the group. The principal members of the group are Sandrão, Helião, DJ Cia, Negra Li and Calado. Source
- Speaking from experiences, Negra Li was heavily criticized by some activists within Afro-Brazilian circles for electing to undergo plastic surgery and altering the appearance of her nose. For some, it was a move toward the whitening phenomenon that is so common in Brazilian society. See more on this issue here and here.