A few weeks ago I didn’t know anything about Criolo. I didn’t know that he’s one of the hottest names in Brazilian popular music. I also didn’t know that he’s a 36-year old hip hop artist from Grajau suburb of São Paulo. According to Wikipedia he began rapping in 1989, but was virtually unknown until the beginning of the 2000s. In that time he even worked as a teacher. In 2006 he released his first studio album Ainda Há Tempo.

This year Criolo released his second, critically acclaimed album Nó Na Orelha. On that album he successfully combined rap and hip-hop with several others genres, such as Música Popular Brasileira, funk, soul, jazz and blues. Criolo’s brilliant album is free to download from his website.

In September Criolo released a new video for the song “Subirusdoistiozin“. It was directed by Tom Stringhini and shot over two days in August in Vila Maria Zélia, one of the oldest parts of Belém, a northern district of São Paulo. Video was made with the support from Nike and involves footballers from Corinthians’ youth categories.

Nike from Criolo’s music video Subirusdoistiozin (2011, screen capture)

 

To get a better insight into Brazilian music scene I asked my friend Simon Plestenjak, a photographer, who is currently working in São Paulo, to give us his view on Criolo’s collaboration with Nike. Simon said:

“Criolo owes his success to a series of new approaches. After almost two decades of work, he got discovered by proclaimed music producer, gathered a set of excellent musicians, playing real instruments live, instead of samples. With the lyrics he managed to touch everyone living in São Paulo, and his sold out shows offer intense, emotional performances by the singer and superb music by his band.

With sponsor Nike (I don’t know the deal, but there obviously is one) he is being able to give album away for free on his website, which is a great example of how sponsorship works in music as much as it used to do in sport. However, I wonder what kind of impact such a sponsorship will have on his career overall, since youngs from the suburbs, where Criolo comes from, might turn away from an artist who cooperates with a brand most of poor youngsters in Brasil cannot even afford. I found it great how it worked out until now, as everyone (with internet) is able to enjoy great music.”

Nike from Criolo’s music video Subirusdoistiozin (2011, screen capture)

 

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Simon Plestenjak is Slovenian photographer, currently living and working in São Paulo, Brazil. He studied marketing in Slovenia and finished photography post-graduation course in São Paulo. With photos he tells stories and always tries to add zest with capturing geometric forms, mysterious lights and sincere human expressions.

Simon’s photos were published in National Geographic Slovenia and in 2009 he won the best “Sports single” and “Sports story” awards at the annual Slovenia Press Photography competition.

You can follow Simon on Twitter, but check his great photos at his website SimonPlestenjak.com