Note from BW of Brazil: The name Tássia Reis has already appeared in seven posts over the past few years on this blog, and for good reason. As we have seen with various seminars, entrepreneurial projects, marches, protests, and events, there is slow, but growing movement occurring throughout Brazil with a base in black identity. And any movement needs music to accompany the sentiments of the people. Tássia’s musical career has emerged almost simultaneously with the development of her identity as a black woman, and with her musical influences, a mixture of Jazz, Hip Hop and R&B, this makes for a tantalizing recipe. Tássia, along with other artists such as Xênia França and Iza, is ushering a new era of black Brazilian female singers whose careers and outlooks are intertwined with what it means to be black in Brazil.
Tássia Reis – Se Avexe Não (Official video)
With skillful lyrics packed with rap, jazz and R & B, Tássia Reis uses music to fight against racism
By Gabriel Nunes
Tássia Reis, Outra Esfera CD: In just seven tracks, Tássia meditates in depth on everyday situations and absorbs some of hip-hop’s most contemporary, from Solange’s ethereal soul to the revivalist jazz of Kendrick Lamar. New without being modern, aerial with her feet on the ground.
Almost everyone, at a certain point in life, goes through some kind of catharsis, of revelation. Something to which Octavio Paz refers in the book O Labirinto da Solidão (The Labyrinth of Solitude) as an overwhelming discovery, capable of manifesting in an individual as a “wonder of being”. For many people, including the Mexican essayist and poet, this is often the case in adolescence, when we find ourselves suspended between the tranquility of childhood and the insecurities of youth. It was at a time like this, in the quest for her own individuality, that Tássia Reis found music. And it was through Hip-Hop that she had her revealing experience, something reaffirmed in the album Outra Esfera (Another Sphere), one of the best of 2016 according to the jury of Rolling Stone Brasil.
Tássia became familiar with the seminal names of national Rap music (Sabotage and Racionais MC’s, for example), and she became more and more involved in the musical genre from the age of 14, when she began to study Hip Hop dance classes. “I was enchanted,” recalls the singer from Jacareí, a municipality in the region of Vale do Paraíba (see note 1). “I started attending events that connected urban dances to various elements of Hip-Hop culture, from rap to graffiti.”
Today, at the age of 27, the paulista (native of São Paulo) still brings a fresh memory to the liberating feeling of discovery. If Tassia’s initial crossing through the paths of hip-hop could be simplified with a mathematical metaphor, it would be what physicists call a perfectly inelastic collision. That is, when two bodies collide and follow one another in space, as if they were one. From the first and unpretentious contact, music has inhabited the artist as a kind of second skin.
But it is not only from Hip-Hop that Tássia builds her collection of references, although it is the backbone that underpins most of her compositions. The singer, who lists Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone as major influences, further underlines the importance that Jazz and R&B have had in her formation. “When I decided to do my first song, I didn’t think of writing a rap at first, so much so that I ended up composing a funk-soul (song),” she recalls, mentioning the track “Agora Que Eu Quero Ver” (now that I want to see), from the first work of the career, the self-titled EP from 2014. “I ended up going to rap because I was already in that environment, and also because I did freestyle with my friends. Shortly thereafter, I went to a dance event and there was the first opportunity to do a live freestyle. And then I felt wonderful. I thought, ‘Wow, I can rap,’” says the singer in the charismatic tone she also often demonstrates at her shows.
Getting deeper into the hip-hop universe also aroused in Tássia a questioning of her awareness of her role as a black woman. As he remembers, this happened in part with the help of an emblematic figure from the Vale do Paraíba. “Betinho [Zulu] used to present books and VHS tapes about civil rights and black culture, always within the context of these Hip Hop events I attended. In a more punctual way than in Tássia Reis (2014 EP), her approach to blackness itself is reflected in the tracks of Outra Esfera, her first full album. “People always say that my voice is sweet, that I bring calmness in my songs,” says Tássia without a laugh. “But I wanted to show something else of mine, another scenario. I wanted to show indignation. And that’s why on some points of this record I come more with a ‘foot in the door’.”
Released in 2016, the album lays confronts sexism and racism as a double oppression to be defeated. This combative stance of the singer is evident in “Ouça-Me” (Hear Me),” one of the highlights of the work. “I tried lovingly and the system assaulted me/So I scream! I elevate my frequency to the infinite,” says Tássia, still shouting: “The revolution will be crespo (kinky/curly)/And not on TV.”
“Within the structures of society, black women are at the bottom of the social pyramid,” says the composer. “We live in a country where more than half the population is black and female. But we do not see advertisements or high-level jobs. This is a result of structural racism, which prevents us from ascending. The day the black woman gets to the place she wants, it’s because everyone will be able to get there too. “
Tássia brings in her voice a singular power that makes her individuality as a black woman overlap with the impersonality of a world marked by racial and gender violence. Through music, she found a way to vent the restlessness she had always brought in her soul, as well as a way to make herself heard in the midst of so much social invisibility. Tassia’s “revelation” came to her in the form of a sentiment whose name is not in the dictionaries. However, due to the objectivity of journalistic texts like this, we’ll simply call it “amor” (love). “O autoamor ou amor-próprio (Self-love, or love itself), is also a form of revolution; especially when it comes to a black woman like me.”
Source: Rolling Stone Brasil
- Vale do Paraíba is a geographic region that encompasses the Mesoregions: Metropolitan Region of Vale do Paraíba and the North Coast, in the state of São Paulo and Meso-region of the South Fluminense, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, which stands out for concentrating a considerable portion Of Brazil’s GDP. Source
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