Drik Barbosa Sews The Strength of Black Women With a Mix of Rap
Note from BW of Brazil: Brazilian music has been yet another path for me to dive into Brazilian and specifically black Brazilian culture for the past few decades. I would never claim that I love all Brazilian music, as there is quite a bit that I simply can’t get with. But hey, there’s a lot of music that I like that I know plenty people just ain’t feelin’, so that’s not a problem at all. The funny thing is that, as I do love good Hip Hop, and as creative DJs and producers are constantly digging through crates looking for that bomb beat sample, I’ve found myself loving songs that were sampled, chopped and rhymed over by a dope rapper in which the original song that it sampled I didn’t like. This continues to be true today.
With such an intro, you know that it’s once again time to discuss a Brazilian artist who is either blowing up or is making a name for him or herself in underground circles. Today’s artist is Drik Barbosa, a name I’ve been reading about for a few years now. Like too many other artists that I could name right now, I’ve been wanting to introduce Drik to readers since last year, but as other commitments keep me busy, it’s often difficult to cover a particular story or personality when I originally wanted to. Another case of better late than never. Drik’s story is a good fit when we consider her story and everything she represents.
Within a period of a few years, she’s released an EP, a full length album and even a clothing line. Her sound does what it is that Brazilian Popular Music is known for, mixing various genres from Brazilian as well as international influences. Listen to her music and you will hear elements of (Brazilian) funk, Hip Hop, R&B and modern Pop. To top all of this off, like so many other artists these days, Barbosa is also part of the movement in which black women are not simply artists, but women who are not afraid to express what it means to be a black woman in Brazilian society
Drik Barbosa sews the strength of black women with a mix of rap, funk and pop; artist also has her own clothing line reinforcing the freedom of women
By Caê Vasconcelos with information courtesy of Rolling Stone Brasil and Ponte
Rapper’s eponymous album hit digital platforms last October
Marked by urban, Afro-Brazilian sounds, 150 BPM (beats per minute) funk beats and a melodic voice, Drik Barbosa dropped the first full namesake project of her career after her 2018 EP Espelho, to reinforce the female choir of Brazilian rap.
Over 11 tracks, Drik sings about the struggle for the space of black women in Brazil within a society marked by patriarchy and machismo, the power of affective connections and memories of strong women.
Accompanied by big names such as Luedji Luna, RAE, ÀTTØØXXÁ, Karol Conka, Gloria Groove, Cínico, Lira, Emicida and Rael, the rapper sews the rhythms of funk, dancehall, pop, rap (and R&B, one of the facets of the artist) with the strength of the black woman, freedom and affective memories.
Launched by Laboratório Fantasma – the label and producer headed by popular rapper Emicida -, directed by Evandro Fióti and produced by Grou, Drik’s debut, full length album is available on all digital platforms. The project was erected with the aid of the 2018 Natural Musical edict.
See the tracklist below:
3. Até o Amanhecer
5. Quem tem joga
9. Tão Bom
The rapper was also invited by the YouTube channel of Rolling Stone Brasil, to put together a playlist to enjoy the love and go to battle and in 60 seconds she said what her preferences were in the Best of All Times in a 1 Minute chart. The videos are available below:
‘I need to talk about what I go through as a black woman’
In an interview with the Ponte website, the R&B singer and rapper talked about her previous release, her first, released, as fate would have it, two days after Rio councilwoman Marielle Franco‘s death: ‘they are doing [this extermination] in our face’
It took 10 years for the woman born Adriana Barbosa, 28, to record her first EP, called Espelho, which had 5 tracks that narrate the trajectory of the rapper known as Drik Barbosa. In addition to her solo career, Drik is also a member of the rap and R&B collective Rimas e Melodias.
The oldest of the 3 daughters of Dalvanise Barbosa and Edinildo Batista, Drik was born in Santo Amaro, in the South Zone of São Paulo. Kelly, 22, and Mirella, 8, are the other two daughters of the couple who came from the Northeast to build construct lives in São Paulo. Despite the slight age difference with her middle sister, the rapper jokes that she treats her like a daughter. “I take care of Kelly as if she were my daughter. She always sang very well, so I already had in mind that if I ever had someone to sing with me it would be her. She is more than backing vocal, she’s my partner,”she says.
Her family’s support, Drik recalls, was essential. “My father wanted to follow the dream in music too, but he had to stop to work and take care of us, because I came too early for their lives.”
Her path in the hip hop universe began at the age of 15, when she started attending “Batalha do Santa Cruz”, one of the most important rhyming competitions in national rap and that brought names like Emicida, Rashid, Marcello Gugu and Flow MC to the world of music.
“I started rapping at a very young age, I started rapping at the age of 15. I got to know the hip hop movement through the ‘Batalha do Santa Cruz’ and then I started to participate with the boys from Batalha, they wanted someone to sing the chorus, because they didn’t know how to sing and they started calling me to sing,” explains Drik.
Since then, there have been more than 40 musical participations, including “Mandume” and “Aos olhos de uma criança”, both from 2015, with the rapper Emicida. In fact, for Drik, recording “Mandume” was a game changer in her career.
“It was a moment when I was thinking about my position in life and in society as a black woman: sim, eu sou mulher preta (yes, I am a black woman)! Yes, I need to talk about what I go through as a black woman. What I go through being a woman in rap. After that moment in “Mandume”, I went to seek even more to know stories of black women, the struggles of black women so that we could get here. That was a watershed. I met a new Drik after “Mandume””, says the rapper.
With a very intense writing and recording process, the five tracks of Espelho define Drik’s life. The first track, homonymous to the album, features a duet with rapper Stefanie, and addresses the experience and self-knowledge as black women. “Banho de chuva”, the second track, is an old composition, which fans kept demanding that Barbosa record. The third song on the EP is “Inconsequente”, a romantic track that shows the importance of allowing yourself to love and be loved.
The penultimate track, and most empowering, is “Camélia”, a rhyme that became Drik’s favorite, which bears in its name the flower that symbolizes abolitionism. The song addresses the message of freedom and strength of black people. “Melanina” is the closing and celebration track for the EP and features rapper Rincón Sapiência. “Espelho” was recorded at the studio of Lab Fantasma, Emicida’s record label, in São Paulo.
Despite being a place of deconstruction, the universe of hip hop is still mostly male, so women MC’s still fight for space and recognition. During the interview, Drik recalled a little of the difficulties she and other women face in affirming themselves as rappers.
“It’s still difficult to be a woman in rap, just as it is difficult to be a woman in our society. It’s a little less exhausting, because other women have already been opening this path. We are fighting for this, but it’s difficult because the recognition is not so great on the male side. Unfortunately, machismo is a cultural thing. We learned since childhood to see the world in this sexist way. Therefore, I think it is super necessary to always talk about my experiences and within my experiences are being a black woman and being a woman, with all the prejudices and obstacles that we face,”she explains.
Marielle Franco, present!
Claudia da Silva Ferreira, dragged and killed by the Military Police in Rio in 2014, Maria Eduarda Alves da Conceição, killed with a stray bullet at the age of 13 at a school in RJ in 2017, and João Victor, killed at the door of Habib’s, in São Paulo, at 13 in 2017, are some of the names that appear in the rapper’s verses. Espelho was released on March 16th, 2018, two days after the murder of city councilor Marielle Franco and driver Anderson Pedro Gomes. “These are things that we know happen, but they are doing it in our face, it was really in our face. Not only for us who already experience it on a daily basis and we already see it, but for everyone,”says Drik.
On the weekend following Marielle’s death, the collective Rimas & Melodias performed at SESC Campo Limpo, on the south end of the city of São Paulo, and all the speeches between the songs were dedicated to the councilwoman. Drik recalled that moment during the interview with the Ponte website. “It was shocking to learn of Marielle’s terrible death. I was sad and with a very strong reflection, to understand what I wanted my music to pass on at that moment. We as women and as black women going on stage, passing our message, making people reflect through our message and being able to talk about Marielle between songs, and there are songs that talk about this fight too, it was very strong. It was shocking, there is no way to define it,” she says.
Among the flags defended by Drik, inside and outside music, are female freedom, mainly for black women, the fight against racism and homophobia. For Barbosa, the experience alone can already be defined as feminism. “I am a woman and I want my basic rights. So my songs don’t have to be feminist. As much as many people have not yet understood the meaning of feminism, which is very sad, we show it differently in our music. Our experience is feminist, you know? When I go out on the street, I’m a feminist. When I encourage a sister I am a feminist. When I come up to the guy and say ‘this is not how you have to treat me, treat me as a woman’ I am a feminist,” she says.
About dreams, the rapper talks about hoping to live in a better society. “My way of contributing is with my music and my daily actions, not only how I work with music. I always talk about these issues because we’re watching people die because of homophobia, because of racism, sexism, and we can’t remain silent,” she says.
Release of clothing line that reinforces women’s freedom by LAB Fantasma
Barbosa includes yet another talent on her list. The São Paulo native released her first collection that reinforces women’s freedom through the entertainment hub LAB Fantasma, by the brothers and artists Emicida and Fióti.
The release celebrated the international month of women and brought the messages of the songs from her debut full album for the five pieces of the “Drik Barbosa by LAB Fantasma” collection.
In an interview with Marie Claire Brasil magazine, the artist says that the idea is to strengthen the diversity and freedom of women and detach themselves from standards, especially black women. Drik also believes that through fashion she can show her identity. Check out the chat with the artist:
MARIE CLAIRE: Where did the initial idea for the collection come from?
DRIK BARBOSA: Fashion is also a type of expression. Speaking of hip hop, clothing also talks a lot about what we believe in culturally, so bringing what I believe to fashion is another way of showing my identity. LAB called me for this development because they always wanted a collection dedicated to the female audience. Developing this collection was, then, a great achievement.
MC: Many rap women have already hidden or hide their bodies with clothes that sometimes don’t represent them, because of machismo. How is your relationship with the stage costumes?
DB. I went through that (thing) of masculinizing myself in the way of dressing because of what was put in my head about whether I wear a more marked, or tighter outfit, it was to get the attention of men. This is the way in which sexist minds thought and still think. To free myself from this took a while. It was talking to other women, understanding my self-esteem and my power of choice, that I can dress as I want, that I managed to free myself from this. And it was paramount for me to feel confident on stage and more confident of who I am and what I want to show people through my clothes. Every time I go up on the stage “mounted”, with makeup, with different hair, the way I like it, I always say that it is a form of protest against these barriers placed for us women. Especially black women.
MC. Is that what you wanted to bring to the collection? What is its concept?
DB. Today I see fashion as a type of cultural expression, but it’s very crazy because I started to understand it a few years ago, since this is not something that I grew up with. Even being a black woman, there are many oppressions that we know exist, mainly related to aesthetics and our body, so I spent a lot of time worrying more about not falling into stereotypes, than about how I was going to express myself through clothes and, when I understood this, there was a liberation. That was from the age of 20, today I am 28. Now I understood how important it is to me as a person and as an artist that my clothes express things, and we had that in mind for the creation of the collection. We think about black culture, how black women in their diversity can feel comfortable and at ease using pieces that bring black identity and culture. This collection is the continuation of my liberation, and I hope it helps in the liberation of other women.
MC. Are you already involved in fashion?
DB. Not directly. Before the collection, I got involved in styling of the shows, events and video clips. I always liked fashion and I help the team in the production of looks to give my vision of how to express myself on stage. It’s very symbolic and representative to be with LAB because I have been with them since the beginning, since the first T-shirts.
MC. How did you get involved in creating the collection?
DB. It was all very tranquil. The LAB team and I sat down and chose the message we wanted to convey in the pieces, how to bring the idea of the record. We develop timeless pieces, but that represent things that I think are important. There was a great harmony in the creation, which I think came through our communication.
Drik Barbosa signs collection that reinforces women’s freedom by LAB Fantasma (Photo:
MC. How would you describe the collection?
DB. It’s a feminine but democratic collection. The shirt can be worn by men, for example. We brought elements of the 90s as a nostalgia for that decade, which was super important for streetwear fashion. Furthermore, it was the decade in which I was born.
MC. The collection brings some phrases in the pieces. How was their choice?
DB. These phrases were chosen because they are on the album Drik Barbosa, and represent exactly what I want people to feel when wearing these pieces. On the crop is written “Quem Tem Joga”, and on the back “Com esse cabelo, com essa cor e com essa roupa meu amor” (“With this hair, this color and this outfit, my love”). This sentence is very special and straightforward about self-esteem, self-love, being happy the way you are, and I really want people to take this further wearing their clothes, and feeling happy and beautiful. The shirt-dress has the phrase “Grave”, which is “Me Respeita” (respect me), and already speaks for itself: it demands respect, which is our right. And “Pretas Ricas, Pretas Vivas” (rich black women, vibrant black women), is special for black women to feel represented. It is a way of manifesting black lives, and our self-esteem that has been stolen, but that we are increasingly conquering again, also from the opportunities that were taken from us, including making money. This piece brings this protest and the power that the black woman is and has to offer to the world.
MC. You also brought that to shooting. What was your involvement and collaboration in the creative design of the photos?
DB. LAB and I developed everything together. We think about bringing the strength of black women and celebrating them in the photos and we think about diversity so that all women can feel represented. The different hairstyles and bodies mean that. We have a plus size model, Verônica Dudiman, and a trans, Emery Khoury. I met Emery in a photo session at Centro Cultural São Paulo (CCSP), she is a receptionist there, I got her contacts to call her to be one of the collection’s representatives in the campaign. It was amazing to shoot with these women! For the photos, we chose Hoops Park, which is a basketball court in São Paulo, and the place really comes in as a supporting role. The most important thing about shooting is women.
MC. Was choosing different models for shooting an idea before the pieces even appeared?
DB. Yes, from the first moment. In the first conversation, I was already sure that I wanted this diversity, including skin tones of black women, and different forms of hair, because I strongly believe that black women are free to wear the clothes and hair they want, and to be what and how they want to be. This is the message that I believe, that my work sends, and it is the message that I want to spread. I think we managed to make that very clear in the photos of the collection.
MC. The parts are adaptable for all bodies, was it also an initial decision? Why should this matter?
DB. It was thought from the beginning as well, precisely because we don’t agree with this single body standard, which is unrealistic and cruel. Especially here in our country. I want women to feel comfortable wearing the pieces. Women with big and small breasts, wide and thin hips, thin or thick waists, in short, regardless of the body, I want everyone to be able to wear it comfortably. The top, cropped and biker shorts are available from Very Small to XG, and the shirt-dress from Very Small to 5X. This is the beginning of the partnership, it is the first step towards the female, and our commitment is to include more and more sizes to definitely cover all bodies.
MC. What do you feel when you see your first collection finished?
DB. I feel very happy and fulfilled with the result we got. The pieces are versatile, considering different bodies, such as breast and hips sizes. It is a collection made for people to feel comfortable wearing. This is the first step thinking about fashion for me, and I am very happy.