Rapper is among victims of the latest massacre in São Paulo
DJ Lah, of the group Conexão do Morro, is one of seven killed in the early hours of Saturday on the periphery of the city’s south zone (zona sul).
In yet another massacre involving poor youth on the outskirts of São Paulo, seven people were killed in the early hours of Saturday (January 5th) and three others were injured. Among the dead was the rapper Laercio de Souza Grimas, better known as DJ Lah, of the group Conexão do Morro. He was 33 years old and father of four children.
Police on the scene where seven were killed Saturday, January 5th in São Paulo
The massacre occurred in a bar in Campo Limpo, south of the city, where DJ Lah was with friends. The website Rap Nacional reports that the victims were executed by people who were in a Space Fox model car that passed by shooting. To the police, however, according to information released this morning, the killers were in three cars.
Rapper Neivan dos Santos, aka 2Pac (blue Samsung shirt) of group Sintonia Lado Sul
The rapper 2Pac, of the group Sintonia Lado Sul, was also injured and is recovering in a hospital. Another victim of the massacre was the man who, in November of last year, filmed the assassination of bricklayer assistant Paulo Batista do Nascimento by police, according to the General Police Chief, Maurício Blazeck, speaking to SPTV journal of Globo TV.
In the target of shots
Formed by Mano Cobra, Cachorrão and DJ Lah, the group Conexão do Morro came out of the Capão Redondo area (1) and released their first CD, Saiam da mira dos tiras (Move from the target of the shots) in 1998. In all, they released three CDs.
In 2005, the group released a live DVD with the special participation of Racionais MC* rapper, Mano Brown, Marie, R&B singer Lino Crizzz, Nany, Marron, and singer Negra Li. The group found major success with its hits, “Super Billy”, “Viver no Gueto (Living in the Ghetto)” and “Click, Clack , Bang”. The main theme of the group was precisely protest against police repression. (See video of “Click, Clack, Bang” below)
“Conexão do Morro is a group that comes from a long path and for many years. It is a traditional group of our rap. So we have a love and admiration for their work, and it’s very sad now to start the year with violence, even being a representative of our culture losing his life. In reality, what we all want is a little peace and it seems increasingly far away. Violence is not my thing, because we all know what happens and we see no solution. These are the same comments of the authorities. We’re sad, but I don’t like to delve into it, because we believe that culture is what can combat violence and not more police on the street. (It’s a) lack of investment in education, culture and leisure. Whoever is from the periphery** knows it’s not easy to live when you don’t know who to fear,” said the writer, host and cultural agitator, Alessandro Buzo to the Rap Nacional website.
The director of music videos, advertising and filmmaker, Mauricio Eça, also in an interview with Rap Nacional, spoke of her relationship with DJ Lah:
“I met DJ Lah in ‘99, when I directed my first video for Conexão do Morro, “Click Clack Bang”. Lah was always a peaceful, quiet, very loving and sweet guy. He didn’t have stardom or anything….. After that, I became his friend, of Cobra and Cachorrão, all members of the group and, along with my sister Teresa Eça, we directed the documentary Universo Paralelo (Parallel Universe) where Lah was one of the main characters, giving a very sincere testimonial about his life and dreams. He said, among other things, that rap was his life and that rap sustained his family, giving him a chance in life and, above all, self-esteem. Besides that, in the video “Super Billy”, he plays a drug dealer on crutches with great humor and fun. And the clip is super violent, which proves that life imitates art. Lah was in the wrong place at the wrong time and lost his life traumatically. He leaves for me, a lot of memories, because he was a very loving guy, talented at his craft and he loved the black rhythms, funk and from time to time cultivating a beautiful Black (afro) (2) on his head. RIP my mano (3).”
Mourning – Death of DJ Lah: 8.30.1979 – 1.5.2012
In 2002, after the recording of “Super Billy”, the young man known as W, 16, who played the victim of crack cocaine trafficking, was murdered in circumstances similar to those shown in the video.
“He was a guy extremely happy, cool, and very intelligent guy. A hellava actor. We were thinking of doing Universo Paralelo 10 years later and he certainly would have been one of the main people because it was he who helped us understand rap, violence and Capão. He was also a great father who took his daughters to school. A sweetie. 10 years ago, I think the violence was worse than now. There was a climate of fear. It’s fallen for several reasons, but now it’s back with full force,” notes the filmmaker Teresa Eça.
“I, as a fan of rap and artists, am sorry. I was with them on some occasions in Capão Redondo and before even being there as an artist, I followed some of the Conexão do Morro’s shows and witnesses some of the guys’ gigs. I was a fan. Even the first song that broke them, “Click, Clack, Bang”, it was just a letter addressed to police violence. The refrain was: “Muito bem, saiam da mira dos tiras /Well, get out of the target of the shots/ São eles é quem forçam, são eles quem atiram/They are the ones who enforce it, they’re the ones who shoot/ Reze pra sobreviver/Pray to survive.” It was that song that made all of Brazil hear about them at the time,” said the rapper, poet and geographer Renan Inquérito.
For him, the police are behind the slaughter. “You have this thing of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But if you live in the quebrada (4), everywhere is the wrong place. You become a hostage and can’t leave your house. Now there seems to be a reprisal from the police to some denouncements and when someone makes speaks out too much about police truculence, they strike back in this way,” he laments.
In the first few hours of the day, hundreds of messages were posted on DJ Lah’s Facebook profile. Jéssica Balbino, journalist and writer about Hip-Hop in Brazil, was one of the most indignant:
“I’m don’t feel up to talking about Dj Lah’s trajectory for Brazilian Hip-Hop, but I feel disgusted to speak about the massacre that took another one in the bloody mornings of the São Paulo city. What discourages me is that I had just argued with a person who told me that there are no victims. That all are human beings and that there is no such thing as people in the favela (slum) die more. It’s with much regret that I see this scene repeated. And it repeats itself daily.”
The writer Toni C., author of the novel O Hip-Hop está morto (Hip-Hop is dead)! notes the sad coincidence with the fact that the massacre occured nearly 10 years after the death of another important São Paulo rapper. On January 24, 2003, in the neighborhood of Saúde, rapper/songwriter Mauro Mateus dos Santos, known as Sabotage, then aged 29, was also brutally murdered by drug traffickers.
“I trip with the ironic similarity between the denouncements in the lyrics of Conexão do Morro with the death of DJ Lah. I can’t help but relate it to the death of Sabotage, murdered 10 years ago. I wonder: when will Hip-Hop no longer be a dangerous profession? When the young black, periphery resident, will no longer be a risk factor?” she wrote.
For him, the governor Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) should be directly responsible for these and other deaths. “The first step seems to be listening to (rapper) Mano Brown asking for the impeachment of the Chief of Police, (and) the governor Geraldo Alckmin”, he says.
Video of Conexão do Morro’s “Click, Clack, Bang”
Fear silences family of rapper killed in a massacre in Campo Limpo
Victim of the year’s first attack of was buried yesterday (Sunday, January 6). Friends and family did not talk to the press for fear of further deaths in the region
Family and friends gather for DJ Lah’s funeral
At the sound of the rap song Morro Triste (Sad Hill/Slum), that talks about murder in the periphery, about a hundred people said goodbye to Laércio de Souza Grimas, 33, DJ Lah, on Sunday afternoon (6). He was buried at 2pm in the Cemitério dos Jesuítas (Jesuit Cemetery) in Embu das Artes, located in the greater São Paulo area. The climate during the burial was that of fear. Friends and family members declined to be interviewed, some of them for fear of further deaths in the region. The neighborhood suspected that the crime was committed by military police linked to death squads.
“The governor Geraldo Alckminsays everything is under control, but it’s not. My son was killed in October, and now my cousin,” said a relative of DJ Lah, who requested anonymity. Her son, 19, who when went out to get a pizza was killed by assailants whose heads were covered, in an incident that ended with two people dead and a woman shot.
During the funeral, the members of Conexão do Morro said they were not up to talking about the death of the DJ. On behalf of the group, which has several songs denouncing police violence, entrepreneur Samuel Ferreira da Silva, San DJ Mix, 48, said: “The system causes this violence. So we try to open people’s eyes, to have the law on our side and combat such violence.”
Maikon, 8 year old son of DJ Lah at funeral and his three daughters
Two other victims of the massacre, the brothers João Batista Pereira de Almeida, 34, and Edilson Lima Pereira Santos, 27, were buried in the Cemitério Horto da Paz (cemetery) “They had stopped to buy a guaraná (beverage) and were leaving, but the hooded men ordered them back,” said one community leader. According to witnesses, 14 masked men arrived at the bar shooting.
The community leader said that people plan to protest in the coming days against frequent deaths. Among the survivors were Neivan dos Santos, known as 2Pac and a member of the rap group Sintonia Lado Sul 23, who wounded in the leg, and discharged on Saturday (5). Oswaldo dos Santos, 20, shot in the chest, underwent surgery Sunday and was recovering well, according to the Secretaria Municipal da Saúde (Municipal Secretary of Health).
Others killed during the massacre were Ricardo Genoino da Silva, 40, Edilson Lima Pereira Santos, 27, Carlos Alexandre Claudiano da Silva, 27, Bruno de Cassio Cassiano Souza, 17, João Batista Pereira de Almeida, 34, and Almando Salgado dos Santos Júnior, 41.
According to witnesses, as soon as the vehicle arrived, the killers shouted “police” and started shooting. When Military Police arrived, the gunmen had already fled and the victims who survived were taken to area hospitals. Witnesses said in an informal testimony to the Civil Police that after the crime, people in a black Corsa gathered the shells of the shots that were close to the bar.
* – Arguably Brazil’s greatest Hip Hop group. The group has released several CDs since the late ’80s and was once described as a mixture of American Hip Hop groups Public Enemy and NWA.
** – For a discussion of the meanings associated with the terms periphery, favela and morro, see here
1. Capão Redondo is a district in the Campo Limpo neighborhood of São Paulo
2. “Black” or “Black Power” is what black Brazilians call the afro hairstyle
3. “Mano”, taken from the Spanish “hermano”, meaning brother, is popularly used in Hip Hop or periphery circles meaning “friend”, “brother” or “partner”.
4. Term signifying periphery/ favela (slum) areas where there are no paved roads, piled up trash, vacant land and drug trafficking