Note from BW of Brazil: Well there was absolutely no way I could pass up this story. Needless, it’s big news when someone beats Mr. Sean Carter, aka Jay-Z, the world’s first billionaire rapper. Bahian rapper Diogo Alvaro Ferreira Moncorvo, better known by his rap moniker Baco Exu do Blues, is clearly familiar with Mr. Carter and his wife Mrs. Knowles-Carter. After all, Baco did release a song called “Excuse Me, Jay-Z” in which he acknowledges his admiration for the New York rapper/entrepreneur and dreams of having his way with Beyoncé.
Needless to say, Brazilian newspapers and websites were all over this story. Anytime a Brazilian beats an American is gonna be big news and this has got to be the biggest story of the sort since four black Brazilian men beat their American counterparts in the relay race championships held in Japan just last month. Baco’s victory at Cannes is yet another example of black Brazilians being recognized for their talents around the world when it is still difficult to be recognized by their own country. The song and video was so powerful that it actually shared an award with arguably one of the most talked about Rap video in some time, Childish Gambino’s “This is America”. Like “This is America”, Baco Exu do Blues’s lyrics are a powerful portrayal of how Brazil treats its black people. If you read a few of the song’s lyrics, you know you’re gonna have to check out the video:
“They want our skin to be the skin of crime/That “Black Panther” remains a fictional film
I’m the color of Mississippi Burning/They’re fucking scared of the next Obama/Racist son of a bitch, no one loves you here/Fuck Jerusalem, I’m searching for Wakanda”
But just who is Baco Exu do Blues? Well, besides being hailed as the “Kanye West Baiano’, meaning the ‘Bahian Kanye West’, a nickname he apparently chose for himself, in 2017, he was nominated for a Troféu APCA (Associação Paulista de Críticos de Arte) award in the categories of song and album of the year for a new artist and 2018 he was awarded “Best New Artist” at the Prêmio Multishow de Música Brasileira (Brazilian Music Multishow Award).
The artist’s 2017 disc Esú was named the fifth best album of the year by Rolling Stone Brasil magazine. In 2016, the new artist made a name for himself with his criticism of the domination of the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil’s Hip Hop market and late last year, made headlines when he says the Queen Bee herself sent him a message through his Instagram profile after the release of his song “Excuse Jay-Z”. Was it really her? Who knows…I mean, there are probably thousands of people out there who use some variation of Beyoncé’s namein their profiles. Remember, that’s how singer Ludmilla got her start before becoming a star in her own right. With his victory at Cannes, Baco Exu do Blues just may be on his way as well!
Check out his award-winning video for “Bluesman” below.
Hypeness headline: “Baco Exu do Blues beats idols Jay-Z and Beyonce and is awarded at Cannes: Jay-Z must be proud of Baco Exu do Blues, that beat out his mentor and inspiration winning the ‘Grand Prix’ of the Cannes Lions.”
Bahian rapper Baco Exu do Blues beats out Jay-Z and shares music award with Childish Gambino for Cannes Lions 2019 festival in France
Report by Marina Amaro, Gabriel Santos and Rolling Stone Brasil newsroom
BLVESMAN: a race to freedom
“From now on, I consider everything blues. Samba is blues, rock is blues, jazz is blues. Funk is blues, soul is blues. Eu sou Exu do Blues (I’m Exu of the Blues). Everything that when it was black was from the devil and then became white and was accepted, I will call it Blues. That’s it, you see, Jesus is blues. I said it.” These words of the Bahian rapper are part of the first song of his new album BLUESMAN, released on November 23 or last year.
Baco begins by extending the concept of what would be the blues, one of the founding rhythms of American music, in which practically all other rhythms have some relation. At the same time, the artist criticizes cultural appropriation as a way to apagar a memória e a história dos negros (erase the memory and history of blacks). Everything is blues. Everything is ours by principle and by right.
Baco is one of the top names of the new generation of Brazilian rap. Baco became known on the scene when he released with the Pernambuco native Diomedes Chinaski, the song “Sulicidio” in 2016, the most important of Brazilian rap of recent years. After that, which criticizes the centralization given to the Rio de Janeiro-São Paulo axis, Brazilian rap has never been the same. A name outside this axis began to have an important appearance on the scene.
In 2017, Baco released Esú, his first album, which was considered one of the best of the year. Since then, the expectation for a new album started growing.
Behold, we’ve come to Bluesman. In order to launch his new work, Baco strongly used the social networks, divulging the new disc on his Instagram page, in a remarkable work of marketing.
Bluesman is an album that talks basically about feelings: love, loss, pain, conquest, doubt, fear, anger, anguish. With each song a series of feelings condensing, blending and presenting themselves. Baco exposes his doubts, fears, anguishes and conquests. It’s an album in a certain personal sense, but at the same time, Baco’s songs deal with problems and issues that are present in the lives of black men and black women. It’s an album about what we feel.
The social and individual pressure for the achievement of the result, because after all the black must always be strong and firm, and cannot give up. The anguish after achieving the result, the way to deal with the supposed failure. Interpersonal relationships and the way others see us are also present in the songs on the album.
The album is also filled with so-called love songs. But despite this and sentimentality, it can’t be said that Baco’s songs speak directly about love. Unlike “Te amo Desgraça”, “Banho de Sol”, and other Love songs that consecrated the singer, those of the Bluesman disc appear to deal much more with frailties, fears of a relationship, mistakes and anguish, and loneliness than about actual love.
Bluesman is album about feelings, but above all, about one of them, freedom. About being free and feeling this way. About breaking standards. Mixing feelings, as Baco does in phrase after phrase, and mixing rhythms, by putting down the sound of drums mixed with beats and blues guitar.
In order to be free in fact, itss necessary to feel and understand. Baco searches through his lyrics and track after track touching on that question. The freedom of the black, his rhythms, his culture, his bodies. Free from a certain standard. Free from a certain demand. Thus free to face racismo brasileiro (Brazilian racism).
The cover of Bluesman represents this. A black man playing guitar in the courtyard of Carandiru. The scene that is unusual and unexpected confronts what would be acceptable, or the role and place of the black. It represents a sigh of freedom in the midst of chaos.
Alongside the album a short film was also produced, which turns the musical work into a sensitive cinematographic work. The short film is a critique of racism and again a song of freedom. One of the phrases of the filmography is an interesting reflection: “Brazil has a population of blacks bigger than that of whites. Do we have less value because we are the majority? The irony of the majority becoming minority.”
The main actor of the short begins the scene running, seemingly without direction, looking behind, with a smile in the face that turns into a serious countenance, surprising the people that he meets along the way. A young black man running on the outskirts of a Brazilian city. From what and where does this young man run? And especially from whom does he run? Seeing a black man running scared in the streets, we soon think he is running from the police. The young black man in the short film ran on his way to feel free, to a rain shower, to an open courtyard, or to find his dreams and desires. And that’s one of the ideas that the album wants to share, how we see black people, what places we usually put black people in, and what places we really can reach.
Blvesman is one of the best and most important albums of rap and Brazilian music of this year (although in my playlist it doesn’t enter the top three). And Baco is one of the great artists of our generation. Black music, rap and our MCs increasingly occupy spaces in the national scene, without losing the essence and the values of representation of the crucial agendas that affect black people and the periphery. É preto no topo (It’s black at the top)
“They want a black man with a gun up, a clip in the favela screaming cocaine. They want our skin to be the skin of crime, that Black Panther is just a movie. I’m the fucking Mississipi Burning” – Baco Exu do Blues.
Rapper Baco Exu do Blues confirms exchange of messages with Beyoncé and talks about possible collaboration
It’s too much power! The rapper Baco Exu do Blues went on Globo TV’s Encontro com Fátima Bernardes talk show and spoke about a bapho that occurred shortly after he released his second album, Bluesman: diva master Beyoncé contacted him through Instagram! In his Stories, he even shared a print of his private messages, and among conversations with several celebrities, there was a direct message from the voice of “Formation”. What did they talk about? That is exactly what Fátima wanted to know!
“So, it’s not Beyoncé who’s on her Instagram, it’s her press rep. I can’t talk about what… because I don’t know if it’s going to happen yet, and I don’t have the authorization to speak,” he declared, stirring up the hostess’s curiosity – and the people! However, the Bahian rapper promised that as soon as he gets some news, he would tell everything on Encontro. Imagine such a feat?!
Baco Exu do Blues songs have a rather political slant, talking about racism and ser um homem negro na sociedade brasileira (being a black man in Brazilian society), which mixes with the ideological slant of the rapper himself. Incidentally, in his new work, he has a song called “Me Desculpa Jay-Z” (meaning ‘Excuse Me Jay-Z’), one of his biggest hits, in which he sings about the American couple: “I don’t care, but life is kind of difficult, I don’t know what do/It’s all confusing like my erotic dreams of Beyoncé/I’m sorry Jay-Z, I wanted to be you/My life is boring, I want to get rich.” Did Beyoncé use the Google translator to find out what he meant? LOL.
In an interview with Noisey, the Bahian had already talked about the stars and their music: “I said ‘I’m sorry Jay-Z’ because I wanted to be Jay-Z, I really love Beyoncé (laughs). I wanted to be Beyoncé too, but that’s a lot of presumptuousness.” We all wanted to!
Baco Exu do Blues displaces Beyoncé and Jay-Z and wins Cannes with Bluesman
“Bluesman”, a video of his last disc, surpassed “Apeshit” of Beyonce and Jay-Z and tied with “This is America”, of Childish Gambino
“Bluesman”, a short film of the homonymous disc of Baco Exu do Blues, won the Gran Prix of the film festival Cannes Lions 2019, the main prize of the publicity market in the world. The award is from the Entertainment for Music category, created for this year’s edition.
In addition to Baco, Childish Gambino also received the award with “This is America,” which on its release garnered 30 million YouTube views in just three days, and was considered “the video of the year.”
“Bluesman,” directed by Douglas Bernardt and produced by Coala.lab. AKQA, Stink and 999, and “This Is America” took the prize and outperformed Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who competed with the super production of “Apeshit”, a video filmed at the Louvre with total extravagance, and “Oh Baby” of the LCD Soundsystem.
For Baco, the prize is an achievement for rap and for his ideology. “The first thing I thought of when I heard the news was about the importance of this for national (Brazilian) rap. Watching the Brazilian rap coming, competing with the foreign rap and gaining space among them is highly impactful. Also, the fact that a film with a black discourse, com todo elenco negro (with an all black cast) and that portrays the fragility and the black force to be able to conquer a prize of such magnitude being Brazilian rap is very crazy.”
The eight-minute film for “Bluesman” is a tribute to blues and music and, more importantly, the importance of blacks in building all music and vice versa. “I am the first rhythm to form rich blacks/The first rhythm that made blacks free […] From now on I consider everything blues / Samba is blues, rock is blues, jazz is blues / Funk is blues, soul is blues / I am Exu of the Blues / Everything that when it was black was of the devil / And then became white and was accepted, I’ll call it Blues “, sings Baco in the introduction.
And the description of the film still explains: “The first time a white man observed a black man, not as an aggressive “animal” or strength devoid of intelligence. This time you can see the talent, the creativity, the MUSIC! The white world had never felt anything like the blues.
A black man, a guitar and a pocketknife. Born in the struggle for life, born strong, born pungent. For the real need to exist!
What is it to be ‘Bluesman’?
It is to be the inverse of what ‘others’ think. It is to be against the current, to be the force itself, its own root. It is to knowing that we have never been an automatic reproduction of the submissive image that was created by them.”
Bluesman debuted on YouTube on November 23, 2018. The album was also voted one of the best national releases by Rolling Stone Brasil magazine.