In this week's analogy series, American rapper Mos Def is to Brazilian rapper Criolo, or, in his full name, Criolo Doido/Dumb Creole.
Just as Mos Def used to set the standard for independent American hip hop, Criolo is now setting the standard for independent Brazilian hip hop.
And here's Criolo:
Mos Def's classic song Umi Says:
There's a reason why Criolo has that uniquely Mos Def and NY "Lions of Hip Hop" aesthetic - urban, smart, and aggravated. Criolo was abjectly inspired by the OG rappers of yesteryear; in fact, in one of his songs, he fondly remembers dancing to Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya." Much of Criolo's early work had that mid-90's hard-core rap sound, and it had the same concerns. Criolo grew up in the Sao Paolo equivalent of Brooklyn - more BedStuy than Brooklyn Heights - and at the time found only American musicians willing to talk about ghetto life.
Rap was Criolo's, and Mos Def's, entree into their art. But it's not their end point. They're both the baddest - the most doidao - in their fields, and mostly because they're unafraid of their own evolution as artists. Mos Def has swam in more lyrical directions with newer songs like No Hay Nada Mas, and Criolo is now really embracing his voice as a singer, and not just a rapper. He sings beautifully, in fact. Here's a project he did with National Geographic; like Mos Def's newer stuff, his poetry is front and center:
So, who's more doido - Mos Def or Criolo? Well, that's up to the listener. It's not a question of talent, just question of which language you're listening in.