“Spoiled children” : Brazilian rapper Criolo’s first single addresses Brazilian social crisis in a sweet and sour samba

“I don’t want to live this way, chewing disillusion / This social abyss needs to be attended / ‘Concentration, strength and faith’, my brother said that / Spoiled children cannot rule the nation”. These sour lyrics are quietly pronounced over the sweet swinging instrumentation of the cavaquinho, the pandeiro, the reco-reco, the guitar and a few horns. Brazilian samba eventually rediscovers its political meaning through São Paulo-based rapper Criolo, with “Menino Mimado” (Spoiled child), the first single extracted from his new album “Espiral de Ilusão” (Spiral of illusion), available from today.

Considered by Caetano Veloso as “probably the most important figure of today’s Brazilian pop music”Kleber Cavalcante Gomes aka Criolo, born to migrants from the Nordeste region – where most low-class people and slaves and native descendants are to be found – has had a special place in Brazilian hip-hop since 2006 and the album Ainda Há Tempo.

Creole pride / Proud to be creole

A special place because he’s always stated his mixed origins loud and clear, thus being a true representative of the Brazilian society’s cultural wealth. “Eu tenho orgulho da minha cor, / do meu cabelo e do meu nariz. / Sou assim e sou feliz. / Índio, caboclo, cafuso, criolo! Sou brasileiro!, the rapper sings in “Sucrilhos” in 2012. This would translate as “I’m proud of my colour, / of my hair and my nose. / This is the way I am and I’m happy with it. / Indigenous, caboclo, cafuso, creole! I’m Brazilian!” This promotion and pride of the difference, and its associated anti-racist message is somewhat reminiscent of what Sandra de Sá was singing in “Olhos Coloridos” in 1986: 

“Você ri da minha roupa
Você ri do meu cabelo
Você ri da minha pele
Você ri do meu sorriso…
A verdade é que você
(Todo brasileiro tem!)
Tem sangue crioulo
Tem cabelo duro”

[translated by the author]
“You’re laughing at my outfit
You’re laughing at my hair
You’re laughing at my skin
You’re laughing at my smile
But the truth is that you
(and the whole Brazilian people)
You have creole blood
You have nappy hair”

Musical nomadism

A special place because in the past albums he musically quoted Caetano Veloso and Chico Buarque, cult artists of Brazilian popular music (MPB) ; his rap music blends with samba, boleros, forró and carimbó, some traditional genres that has existed long before hip hop ; but also with afrobeat, funk and soul. Again, this mix has been typical of São Paulo’s music scene for the last years, especially thanks to musician and producer Marcelo Cabral,  a true omnipresent figure (Elza Soares, Metá Metá, Passo Torto, Thiago França, Rodrigo Campo, MarginaIS…). Cabral had already produced Criolo’s last two albums, Nó na Orelha (2012) and Convoque Seu Buda (2014), musical playgrounds for both the producer and the artist. As a true poet, Criolo is keen on using intertextuality and references, and never forgets to invoke rap, as here on this single, when he quotes his friend Projota’s lyrics“Foco, força e fé, já falou meu irmão” (”
(“Concentration, force et foi, mon frère l’a dit”).

Biting irony against widespread cynicism

With the song “Menino Mimado”, i.e. “spoiled child”, Criolo sends a cry from the heart – and from the mind – but with the sweetness that characterizes samba music. This makes it a surprising and bold musical stance, maybe in order to better reach his target – the elitist group that runs the nation while satisfying their own interests, thus fostering a climate of social division. More precisely: Michel Temer’s corrupted government whose members are all exclusively 50/60-year-old white heterosexual males (except Luislinda Valois, the Secretary for the Promotion of Racial Equality, now Minister for Human Rights, eventually appointed one month after the presidential mandate, as a small concession to the criticisms). This homogeneous team strongly contrasts with Dilma Rousseff’s previous government. Had the rapper delivered his message in a true hip-hop vocal style, sometimes aggressive, would the effect have been the same? This is a question Criolo does not even ask himself, he who does not need to prove his legitimacy anymore before a country and a population who is looking for realistic, respectable and virtuous pathfinders, as opposed to today’s political class.

“What happens today”, he declares in an interview he recently gave to BBC Brasil, “is that some really clever persons hold the State power between their hands and know exactly what they’re doing. They know every single area and interstice, and this is how they build their empire. And they are likely to do anything only to protect and further their interests, including by paralysing the country and ensure that people kill each other in the streets.” Stupefied by the social crisis his country is facing, he also lamented the “mood of hatred and rancour so absurd that people just don’t care about anything anymore. It seems like they don’t see the raise and strengthening of homophobia, xenophobia and racism that some people are promoting. They are not embarrassed by the social abyss people are living in.” A social abyss created by the “spoiled children” – those who took power but also the blinkered or blind citizens – and that social abyss “needs to be attended”, as he sings in “Menino Mimado”.


« THROUGH JOY, HONESTY AND QUESTIONING, I DELIVER A PORTRAIT OF OUR CONDITION. IN A WAR FOR POWER AND FREEDOM, WHERE THE WELL-BEING OF EVERYONE IS FAR FROM BEING A PRIORITY, SAMBA PAVES THE WAY AND CLEARS THE PATH. »


The artist is bothering people, and not only the guardians of the system and the government, but his own fans, too. Some of them already started to criticize Criolo’s “caetanisation” (for Caetano Veloso) in his radical turn towards samba. The answer first came from his producer Daniel Ganjaman, who peacefully answered on Twitter : “I’m just gonna cite ‘Haiti’, an amazing rap song by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil recorded at a time some of you didn’t even know what rap was.”

Criolo today adds and confesses on his Instagram account: “Samba has always been part of my life, since childhood. Through joy, honesty and questioning, I deliver a portrait of our condition. In a war for power and freedom, where the well-being of everyone is far from being a priority, samba paves the way and clears the path [o samba pede passagem]”, as a subtle nod to the song “Pede Passagem” by Nara Leão, the cult bossa-nova singer. Like an elegant way to shut the mouths of both spoiled children and narrow-minded people, who foster the toxic mood of hatred and division in today’s Brazil. A country that, more than ever, needs a voice like Criolo Doido’s, the “mad creole”.

PAROLES ORIGINALES [Portugais du Brésil]

[Refrão]
Não, eu não aceito essa indisciplina
Acho que você não me entendeu
Meus meninos são o que você teceu
Em resistência ao mundo que Deus deu
E eu não aceito, não
Não, eu não aceito essa indisciplina
Acho que você não me entendeu
Meus meninos são o que você teceu
Ei, resistência ao mundo que Deus deu

[Verso 1]
Então pare de correr na esteira e vá correr na rua
Veja a beleza da vida no ventre da mulher
Pois quem não vive em verdade, meu bem, flutua
Nas ilusões da mente de um louco qualquer
E eu não aceito, não

[Refrão]
Não, eu não aceito essa indisciplina
Acho que você não me entendeu
Meus meninos são o que você teceu
Em resistência ao mundo que Deus deu

[Verso 2]
Eu não quero viver assim, mastigar desilusão.
Este abismo social requer atenção.
‘Foco, força e fé’ *, já falou meu irmão.
Meninos mimados não podem reger a nação


ENGLISH LYRICS [translation by the author]
[Chorus]
No, I won’t accept this indiscipline.
I don’t think you understand me,
My kids are what you’ve woven
In resistance to the world God gave us.

[Verse 1]
So stop running on the treadmill, and go run in the streets,
See the beauty of life in the woman’s belly
Because those who don’t really live, my dear, are immersed
Into the illusions of some madman’s mind,
And I don’t accept this, no.

[Chorus]

[Verse 2]
I don’t want to live this way, chewing disillusion,
This social abyss needs to be attended.
‘Concentration, strength and faith’, my brother said,
Spoiled children cannot rule the nation

Free download of the single “Menino Mimado” on this link (click on the red button down the page)