That’s right. We have an “artist of the week” column. Got a problem with that? Read no further. Is it going to be pretentious? Absolutely! But don’t worry about it; we know more than you. So sit down, be quiet and you just might learn something. (Didn’t your mother ever tell you to respect your elders?)
As the first ever TES Artist of the Week, we’ve chosen Bezerra da Silva (beh-ZEH-huh dah SEEW-vah), a Brazilian musician of samba. Da Silva (1927 – 2005) was born in Recife, Pernambuco (in the northeast of Brazil). At a young age he moved to Rio de Janeiro where he would spend the rest of his life. Overcoming extreme poverty, he achieved enormous success as a singer, guitarist, percussionist and composer, recording more than thirty different albums.
Da Silva’s music depicts the difficult life of the inhabitants of favelas (Brazilian shantytowns), discussing criminality, illicit drugs, snitching, political corruption, police brutality, and discrimination with an ever ironic and humorous tone. His lyrics neither glamorize a marginal lifestyle nor condemn it. They simply portray the realities faced by the poorest members of Brazilian society. However, the songs do praise the malandro, a figure traditionally associated with con-artists and gangsters. According to Da Silva, a malandro is a smart but poor person, who makes the most of what life has given him, even if this means occasionally deceiving others. In this sense, whether someone would be considered intelligent or a malandro is solely a question of economics, not ethics.
In recognition of his consistent combination of brutal honesty, pointed sarcasm, and unsettling moral ambiguity, all set to a lively samba beat, we here at Tales of Extraordinary Sanity are proud to name Bezerra da Silva as our first artist of the week.
Where you should start:
• “Malandragem Dá um Tempo”
• “Candidato Caô Caô”
• “Seqüestraram Minha Sogra”
• “Pai Véio 17”
– Carlos de la Gringa
-Ed. There are currently no good translations into English of these songs. However, we will keep you posted if we find any or if we decide to do some ourselves.