I don’t believe that people know all about how to stake your claim on a singular genre. Especially if we’re talking about the kind of genre that’ll involve music – you just need to look around town and see just how many bands there are in the rock scene, and you’ll know that you have to be truly exceptional to become something like the Beatles. It’s the same thing in the world of rap and hip hop – to become something like Notorious BIG or P. Diddy, you need to stand up for something.
For MV Bill, rap has become a way for him to become something else. In a way, it’s the reverse for him – he used the genre to stake his claim on an even bigger scene – the visible activist scene of Brazil, specifically Rio de Janeiro. His rap is exceptional in terms of content, in that he uses his words, his lyrics to speak out against the injustices suffered by the children of Brazil. He’s become huge in his home country because of his advocacy; he uses his music as a tool to fuel his social work, which tackles a very sensitive area of the society in Rio – the rampant drug trafficking that relies greatly on children to get the drugs around. MV Bill’s rapping exposes these injustices, and tries to get the heart of the problem by provoking discussion among the elite, and action at the grassroots level.
What makes him unique is that he doesn’t just make music. Alexandre Barreto (MV Bill’s real name) deals with a variety of non-government units throughout the country, NGOs geared towards getting the kids off the street and drugs and into more wholesome activities that they could use to channel their energies into. In a sense, MV Bill is a Brazilian activist rapper who does more than make music. He’s published several books discussing the problem of the current society in Brazil (along with several authors), has set up a Teen Center designed to act like The Viaduct in Tacoma, and cuts music videos for his songs designed to get the youth to act.
That’s art right there.
No doubt about it, Alexandre Barreto’s become a legend all his own. Without meaning to stake his claim on rap music, MV Bill’s rap songs have propelled him into a position in Brazilian entertainment and politics that he’s taken the genre of Brazilian rap and stamped his name on it by taking the music he makes and sending a message to society in a manner that his listeners won’t be liable to forget in a long time.