Note from BW of Brazil: Rapper Karol Conka has been on Brazil’s Hip Hop scene for a number of years and has earned a substantial following. The Paraná native has attracted a fan base who is as attracted to her rhyming style as much as her flair for colorful, daring fashion statements and hairstyles. Below, the rapper discusses her upcoming project, the development of her style and identity as well as experiences with racism.
Rapper Karol Conka recalls: “I’ve already dipped my hand in bleach to see if it would turn white”
A darling of fashion and rap scene, the singer talks about racism, how she constructed her attitude and posture and speaks of her new album
With pink braided hair, the fun clothes and good humor that’s transmitted to the voice of Karol Conka, 28, she is a rising star in the national rap scene. With just one album released, Batuk Freak, the Paranaense (native of the state of Paraná) has found success with hits such as “Boa Noite”, “Gandaia” and the latest “Tobei” (video below) (1). Considered a spokesperson of the black and feminist movements on stage, the rapper is proud to be an outside the box reference and makes a point of, with her music, helping people.
“I think it’s important to transmit messages of self-esteem, and I do it because I perceive, from my point of view, that what sickens people most is the lack of self-love. That’s what makes people frustrated and makes them become ‘haters’ on the internet. I think I have the gift of speech and I prefer to use it to convey a word of comfort,” says Karol, who is recording her new album, scheduled for release in June.
For her self-esteem is also key to a happier society. “Many fans feel represented by me, that I am a person outside of the standard because they don’t see themselves on television or on billboards.”
Karol’s creative and full of attitude visual also came from the fashion world – it’s a known little figure in the images of “street style” of SPFW (São Paulo Fashion Week). “I always thought of style as a form of expression. And I always wanted to have everything different,” she says. But before transmitting her ideas to people, the rapper experienced moments that turned her into a woman of strong opinion and ready to “tip over” certain social standards.
Since her childhood in Curitiba (capital city of Paraná), Karol has liked to rhyme. At the time that the Spice Girls were at their peak, she had fun imitating Mel B. The family faced her will of being an artist as a child’s dream, but the games were also refuge to the void that her father, an alcoholic, left. “I was sad to see him in the bathroom in an alcoholic coma. I missed his presence. It never happened to him being aggressive because of drinking, but I went through annoying situations. Fantasizing helped me,” she explains.
Then she discovered rap and fell in love with Lauryn Hill. “I felt attracted because it’s a raw, real rhythm. My first contact with music was with samba, pop and MPB (Brazilian Popular Music), but rap was something else. Today I feel that I was able to put my more pop style in my music,” he explains. It was after putting a song on her old MySpace that Karol began her career.
Since childhood, Karol felt the taste of prejudice several times. “I was 17 and a teacher was telling me I could sue him because we just wanted money from whites. People need to understand that it is not victimhood. Racism hurts. It hurts children. It hurts teens.”
Karol Conka – Tombei feat. Tropkillaz
In another case, she says she fell in love with a white boy as a child. To date her, the condition was that she dive into a pool of bleach to become white. (2) “And I’ve already dipped my hand into a bucket, at age nine, to see if it would work. That day, my mother began to show me that I’m beautiful like this, in this way.” As one of the only black female singers in national rap with visibility, Karol feels responsible for representing the Movimento Negro (black movement) and remembered what she learned. “If I complain, I am the victim. But if I remain quiet, it’s no use. Then I began to provoke.”
Not only as a black, but also because of being a woman in the national rap scene dominated by men. “A lot of people told me that they didn’t believe in me and only after listening to my music, did they see my ability. People have this thing of, ‘oh, it’s a woman doing it’ and already they’re sleeping on it. I like to serve as an example because of this, because we are underestimated.”
Source: Marie Claire
- Intriguing to note that in this video by Conka, we see a similar pattern as that in numerous other videos by other black artists. While video presents a multitude of people of varying skin tones, Conka’s main male lead in the video is a white male, which refers us back to funk singer Ludmilla’s video for the song “Hoje” in which she the setting was a scientific lab machine used to create the perfect (white) male. In many music videos by black Brazilian artists, we see a similar pattern as that of most novelas (soap operas) in which it is difficult to find black couples in romantic settings. See also the article “When rappers crossover: new video by rapper MV Bill provokes accusations of sell-out, whitening and elitification of Brazilian Hip Hop” as well as “Race, revolution and interracial relations: Revisiting rapper Emicida’s video ‘Boa Esperança’, the most courageous video of 2015”. It is also necessary to question Conka’s seductive actions toward her male counterpart in the video in light of the fact that so many black women activists point out how Afro-Brazilian women are often treated as mere sexual playthings or not considered for serious relationships in real life.
- Again, it is necessary to point out the Brazilian discourse of racism not existing because of the high rate of interracial marriages. As we have pointed out in numerous articles, the existence of such relationships doesn’t necessarily prove the non-existence of racism as there are often many other factors to consider that are not easily noted on the surface level in which most simply believe in the idea that “love has no color”.