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Rael Feliciano - São Paulo, Brazil - Life Story pt. 2 (Global Lives Project, 2006)

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It's Rael...but let me take a sip of water here. — Rael, what about work, just...how old were you when you started working and what was your first job? — Man, I think I was ten when I started working at a fair, it was my first job, selling lemons. I was so unlucky, I went only once. We set up the lemon booth, I started selling and before the fair was over...the fair runs from 7am to 2pm. By 10am I had sold it all, you see? Then the owner said "no, you'll work for me next Thursday, this and that, this and that...I'll give you extra money." I said: great! The next day I got pneumonia. I said damn, I lost the job. Then I started working with my dad, as bricklayer's assistant. But I...bro, I always hated it because the people my father used to work for, sort of looked down on us, you see? They sort of, sort of lacked hospitality. It was like...we were just servants, you get it? I said no, I don't want this for myself. My dad would say to me and my brother "no, you have to learn it", and we were like "no, no" Today my brother is into building houses and he regrets not having learnt it. Then I worked as an office boy, then in a company that worked with airbrushing. We painted go-kart helmets, Harley Davidson, Formula One helmets. The company was called ArteMix, it was sort of a design company, but I wasn't registered, I worked as a production assistant. I would set the helmets ready to be painted. It was where I worked the most. The guy even said "get a haircut", and I said no, wait until I'm off probation. Then probation was over and I ended up not cutting it, I argued with them and finally got fired. The guy gave me wrong money, I took off and never spoke to them again. Then I worked as an office boy here at Heitor Penteado. I worked for 8 months and that's when I got sick. I had TB. And my bosses, man...we never got along. — They all wanted you to get a haircut? — Yep! But I'd always argue for and sometimes I would win. And once we became friends the argument was over. Then I worked as a freelancer, in some media companies, in a freight company... Nowadays I am a civil servant. I work in the administration of public areas, in inspection, called RAPPA. It's me against myself...every day. — At the City Council? — Yes! The job puts me against myself every day, every day. Not every day but most of them I remove banners, this sort of, these banners, these ads, these Billboards. But then there are days we have to seize street sellers without a license to sell. Sometimes he has been on that spot for over 20 years and there was a store that sold t-shirts right across the street. And he sells shoes. Then the t-shirt store went bankrupt and for his bad luck they set up a shoe store instead, you understand? And the store pays more taxes, so you have to seize the street seller. It's a huge shock. The guy is in total shock and you say to him "There is nothing I can do". That is how it goes, man, your success depends on the failure of others. Wild capitalism. — Rael how did you get the job at the City Council? — Bro, I went through this time in my life...I like music, but I needed to pay my bills, you see? I would pay my bills, phone, water, whatever. I would borrow money. And my house, it's not well built. It's kind of a mess. (Phone rings) Then I look at my mom, she's 65 and my dad's 63, and I say, man, they need to have some dignity and now it's my turn. to do something. I thought...I need to find a job but I can't stop being myself, you understand? And that's what most...most of the companies want you to do. Then in January I went to the Job Support Centre. A thing that's set up by the Unions, and I found out there was an opportunity to work in the City Council. But it was something different by then, I had to clean manholes...to prevent flooding and stuff. I said "Damn it! I'm gonna do this, I need the money, I have to...have to do something". Then I went and I said no. The lady said "you should take a course". I said "no, I just heard there's a vacancy to clean manholes, and that is what I wanna do". She said "no, but you're young, you have to do it". I said "no, I need the money now and that is it". Then I filled in the form and they said they would call me back in...10 days. Then months went by. I thought, damn it's not gonna happen. Then the phone rang and I got called to work as a support agent, which is what I'm doing right now. Administration of public areas, which is called RAPPA. Then I was sort of suspicious. I said no, I'm not going bro. I'm not going. But then I thought about that thing you have to chase after your own opportunites and I said...I'll do it. And I went, and did. Nowadays I'm used to it. You become tough, you know? Every day you become thougher to that sort of thing. Because that street sellers also knows that, because of the power of the government, they know they are wrong. It's not that they are wrong, the government puts them in the wrong side, isn't it? They are trying to survive. You end up getting used to the idea and so do they. Then you walk by and say "Don't stay there, man." Then the street seller moves around and you say "Hey, don't stay there" and he stays. The second time you have to seize him, because we receive complaints. You're at the office and your boss says "Hey you have to seize someone at Alameda Santos, there is a street seller there and he doesn't have a license. Seize him". Sometimes it's another street seller himself, who has a license, and snitches on the one next to him, who doesn't have a license. So you see it's war. It's a war. It's really wild capitalism. It's a jungle and you have to do your bit. I have to take money home and it has to be this way. I said "That's it". I don't like it, I don't like what I do, but that's the way it is. I guess a lot of people don't like what they do either. — What was your first impression when you got there? What is the first thing you thought about when you had to go? — I'm gonna hide! It's a totally different job and because I'm sort of a popular guy, in the rap scene, I have to diguise myself. I disguise myself like this: I put a t-shirt, tie it and cover up my dread locks. I hide my ear piercing, put some sunglasses on that are not my style, and I go for it. Because, man, I don't do that for myself you see? I'm a guy who wants to be safe in order make my music, my own thing. I saw we couldn't afford stuff at home and that was taking away my breeze. I saw how my mom was upset about these things. I said bro, I'm gonna do this not for me, not for anyone. I'll do it for my mom. For my mom. So I can also contribute at home bro Because I can't just sit back and wait for my music to bring me some earnings. I understood I had to... had to be a lion. Wake up early, be determined and chase my opportunituies because there are people at home who are in need. I saw that, no matter who I am, a lion or a gazelle, I had to do this. And society does that, isn't it bro? This capitalist system we have... does that, you see? That's why many people are involved in crimes. Many people have the potential for a lot more and are working as cleaners, because there are no opportunities, no room. There's no room, society is full. So that is it, we do what we can. What matters is being alive. It is to conquer, I don't know. And so it goes. — And how's your day to day? What's the hardest thing on your job? — Bro, nowadays it's easy. Because I don't want to snitch on any public office, but civil servants don't do anything, man. They don't do anything. I'm out once or twice a day. The rest of the day, I didn't like playing dominoes before but I play now. I play dominoes there, you see. Sometimes...because it's a job where you don't have to work out, the only exercise is getting in and out of the van. And because I had a lung problem, and I have to breathe properly to sing, so I run around the block. I have time for all that, but sometimes, because you have nothing to do, you get so lazy, you get it? And sometimes I leave, I have to rehearse or I to tape something, as I'm doing today. And so it goes, my life is a race, man. I have several problems because I have two jobs and lack time. Being a musician and a civil servant. Spare time for the family, for dating, to do other things. It's a race. There's always someone complaining. Not eveyone is going to understand, only you. It's a mad race. — How's the job as a musician? — It's the most satisfactory one, but it's the most stressful too, because you're on your own. And results start showing but it's step by step. Sometimes one step forward can take up a year, you see? It's step by step. For us, for us to record our CD, it took us 3 years. First we started producing the instrumentals, then writing over them. Then we went into studio. The studio was the hardest, a guy who sings with us and who worked, at first he started paying for it. We paid what we could... 10, 20 reais. We kept paying, but at the end we owed the studio 5.000 reais. By the end we had paid two but still owed 3.000 Then one of my friends who's in jail, he's a criminal, he helped us, with drug dealing money. He said "no, you are chasing after it and so on". I didn't ask for anything! He showed up and said "Hey here's five grand for you". He gave us five thousand. We paid what we owed the studio. With the rest we did the CD pressing, right? Ours isn't industrial pressing, it's a copy. It's an independent CD and so on. But it's something that works well. We did a concert. We performed in Rio. And the people there sang our music, they stopped us on the street. I said "bro I didn't know this really happened". But the internet that magnifies it, isn't it bro? We have our songs on the internet, our website and so on. It's a sweet outcome. A lot happened, but it was the VMB that did it. We would make cover videos, listen to Marcelo D2 at home and we put our video together. This thing of chasing opportunities was always something we did. We recorded the CD only with our own songs. And we took it to the producer, to find out how much it would be to put a video clip together. But until then we had no money. We just wanted to know how much it would cost us. Then the crazy guy who was responsible for watching our clip, liked our music. And kept it. Then Carnaval ended, he was coming back from Rio with his crazy friend, Serginho who was in Big Brother. Serginho from Big Brother. And they both really liked it, and they started to come up with several ideas. And inviting us to lots of places, to sing at private parties, in places that had nothing to do with rap. Kind of rich people's places that played afrocuban music. We played in a journalist's apartment and that's when we started to get publicised. Then we recorded the first video clip, which is a video in a sequence plan. Very simple, not like a movie. No cinema shots. It's a video clip of us in our community, walking up the slums, one meeting with the other. We are five MCs. One meets with the other and we all meet at the top of the hill, in the end, which gives you an image of the whole slum. We handed it in and didn't even... I said "let's go and show who we are". VMB was coming up and I met this guy... on Tuesday we went to perform at this rich guy's place, with this afrocuban music, and I met the video's director. And I said "What do you think, man? VMB is coming up, do you think we have a shot?" He said: "it's not gonna happen". I said "yeah, it's not gonna happen". Then I was working as freelancer at this visual media company and my phone rang. And my girlfriend said "so, you were nominated for the rap category". I said "WTF!" I couldn't believe. I said "man, that's crazy". That was something that changed our lives. It was the top of our career, you understand? That's what impressed us the most and what gave us the most respect in the whole country, in the rap music scene. Because there are several types of rap. There's the gangsta rap, which talks about crime, heavy stuff. And there's the grunge, which talks about several things. We are neither. We don't label ourselves gangsta or grunge. We think about the music as a whole. So we speak about... the people who I believe exist. When we are writing, we don't imagine ourselves in a room like this one. We imagine ourselves in the universe and we start talking about stuff. And then we started to get accepted byt both audiences... who are not rivals. The gangsta plays on the radio. There's a radio station called 105 FM which plays rap and mainly that kind of rap, the gangsta rao. It talks about crime, I killed, I robbed, I am into drug trafficking and in the end I'm dead. That's what the music is all about. And it doesn't reach other audiences, you see? It mostly reaches the people of the slums , who look up to the dealer, who also listens to that type of music. And our rap is sort of different, so we thought we wouldn't be accepted by those two audiences but we did, you understand? We got accepted by both grunge and gangster audience. And for us it's really nice. We haven't reached all our goals yet, but we know we're gonna make it, you see? So no one has given up yet. Besides from fulfilling ourselves and our soul, we know it's gonna take us to a better place. I think I'm gonna be able to survive on music and I will quit the City Council. I'll quit some things that bother me. How? Because of the money. — And when did you start the band? — Man, it's a step-by-step. This band I have today, two... one was my friend from 4th grade, the other I knew from school. The other one I knew from school, he was took part at my maracatú presentations and he had other music projects too. I'll name them. I'm Rael, then there's Dodiman, he used to rap solo. There's Massao, who's my friend from 4th grade and there's Paulo M. Sário, he had a band called Via Sacra. But until then he hadn't even started and he saw me playing maracatú, And he started to set up his own project and then we were playing maracatú together, except Dodiman. And there's Apolo, who also had another project and I knew him from my skate boarding times. So we got together, the four of us, without Apolo. Then one day we went out partying and the guys didn't want me to call Apolo, because I was drunk, But I went anyway and called him. I said "no, he will sing with us", and we started singing together and formed a band called Can. And there was another guy. There was another group called KND, and I sang in both. This guy invited me to sing because he liked my style, my clothing and so on, but I didn't rap by then. I didn't even write my own lyrics as stuff. Then this crazy guy invited me and we taught one another. He had this gangsta vibe and I had the vibe of... music in general. So we kept on learning things. We formed the Can-KND and we got this whole group of people together and started the Can-KND. But then the different personalities started to show up. That crazy guy from KND, Pedro Suzero Onze, who sings solo today. And there were Negro C and DJ Kiko. DJ Kiko is with us to this day, but the other two both went solo, the two guys. And we formed the Pentágono in 2000. This...that band Can-KND ended in 99. In 2000 we formed the Pentágono and it's live to this day. Which is formed by Rael da Rima, Apolo, Dodiman, Massao and M.Sário. And DJ Kiko. — And your songs, are they original or do you sing other people's songs? — They're original. The productions. We put together. Some of these friends today... who played with us, some of the songs we called in people to play with us. Who was one of these friends who played the drums back then. Well, we named the CD as "Microfonicamente Dizendo" (Microphonically Speaking), you see? But yesterday I said to the guys "if we really look at it, the name of the CD could be "Cooperation", you see? Because we brought together the school people and used each other talent. One made the CD cover because he's a designer, another played vibraphone, which was the drummer, and his brothers are also musicians. Nowadays they play in orchestras, in the army band too. I called another one who played the guitar, also from school. And brought them together and "there's a song, can you play it in the guitar? Damn bro now we have to build our website, who's gonna do it?" Then one of the guys who sings with us is also into design. "Hey, you have to make the cover!" So we called the crazy designer. We asked them and managed to put things together. And the CD came together. Thank God we managed to bring these guys together. We also understood how important is childhood friendship. It didn't go away, you see? Each one has his own life, but we can still get together to do something. — I heard someone say you sing very well in English. — I don't think I sing well in English. I sing a few English songs, I sing what I hear, you understand? Sometimes I don't understand the lyrics, I listen and I sing what I hear. You get it? And I keep singing. Listen and sing. But by the ear. Sometimes I have to ask, like when I went to David I sang that song Guiltiness and I asked "hey, what's Guiltiness?" and the said it was like culpability, I didn't know that. The thing is music is something that touches your heart and you loosen up to it. You open up yourself to it and it will start to touch you, and you find it easier to write, to listen. To understand it, the instruments, what's each one's role, what it means, you see? The lyrics. But now I would like to stop to go to the bathroom. Ah bro, it's a language that only us, only we can write it, you get it? The language of Pentágono. We came up with our style. We're not in between those two rap styles. We came up with ours, which is unlimited. We can't say: "we rap". No, we make music, man. We rap while singing. We have our own way of rapping. We mix several things, I don't know, MPB, etc. I enjoy many styles. I only sing rap, you see? But I enjoy MPB, forró, reggae, you understand? I enjoy several things. I accept and like whatever touches my heart. I don't have any rules. The rule is not to have rules. — And Rael, I hear you have a trip planned to Africa. How did that happen? — Yes, but there's a problem right now. I don't know if we blew it. It's like this. There's a Hip Hop Festival in Gabon and we were part of a Hip Hop company. A Hip Hop website which is the biggest in Latin America, called "Bocada Forte". And it acted as Hip Hop agency too, they would book us concerts and so on. And we had good publicity through this website. But if we have our own website now, then we don't work with them anymore. And there's a correspondent for this website who works in an NGO in Barcelona. They were going to call... I think they called MV Bill to go there. If I'm not mistaken it was MV Bill. But then MV Bill released "Falcão, meninos do tráfico" and he got too busy. And then they got interested in us. They called us to go there. So what did we do? We said "cool, we'll go but we have never left the country". "We don't know what to do." The guy asked "How many people are there?" We answered "Seven". And he said "great, that's exactly the number of people we can take". He said "that's great". For us it's like awesome to visit Africa, because I think it's a strong cultural country, you get it? I think it's more our style than if went to Japan or the US, you see? We were like, wow, it's gonna be awesome. But I think this crazy guy is trying to embezzle some money, you get it? Because each one's airplane ticket, back and forth, is costing 12.000 reais. — Twelve thousand? Yes, there and back. So what did we do? We invited the director of our video clips and one of his assistants. And it added up to eight people. Then what did we do? We thought we could make a documentary, you see? A documentary about five, five young men from the suburbs who had never travelled more than 400 km. And we would show it all, from our departure at the airport until our arrival there and vice versa, you see? And we were also going to produce video clip. We were going to write a specific song for it. Not we were, we are going to, because it hasn't been called off. I think they have until Monday to reply to us. But then the guy started to make excuses... he said "no, here's the deal, we had a problem, I don't have all the tickets, I don't have the accommodation". Then our director, he knows someone in the marketing department of Air France, I think. Some airline out there. And one of his friends travels around the world for free. So he presented our project to this friend. And we are waiting on his answer. But until then, before the guy said the deal was not closed, we thought everything was set. Then I spoke to David. Then this happened and now he's trying to get flight tickets with this company, as if it was some tax deduction scheme, you get it? We would get the tickets and when the government claims taxes from this company, it would be deducted through this scheme. So we are waiting for his reply, and if it happened it would be a huge achievement for us, to travel abroad. To show up somewhere else, right? To know other places and to put all this material together, to show even more stuff. We also thought about starting some social project in our community and this video is one of the things we could be presenting.

Video Details

Duration: 22 minutes and 22 seconds
Country: Brazil
Genre: None
Views: 89
Posted by: globallives.brazil on Feb 14, 2012

Rael Feliciano - São Paulo, Brazil - Life Story pt. 2 (Global Lives Project, 2006)

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