Lyric And Liberation: Dialectical Implications of Brazilian Hip Hop

Open Access
Goncalves, Alexander Alan
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Humanities
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Eduardo Mendieta, Thesis Supervisor
  • Brady Lee Bowman, Honors Advisor
  • Utopia
  • Heterotopia
  • Jazz
  • Hip Hop
  • Brazil
  • Funk Carioca
  • Aesthetics
  • Politics
This paper offers a critique of the cultural defeatism posited in Theodor Adorno’s 1937 work “On Jazz” through adumbration of the music of Brazilian favelas. Whereas Adorno sees musical attempts at liberation as nullified by their subservience to the whims of government and market, the research and reflection here evidences the emancipatory nature of music. Brazilian Funk demonstrates our capacity to advance change through music, and thus calls upon us to build more efficacious systems for fostering and assimilating music of the world’s people. In refuting Adorno’s condemnation of jazz, I craft a narrative evidencing the pragmatic import of fostering musical outlets within communities while acknowledging the dangers of artistic proliferation in capitalist society. The case of the funk movement in Rio De Janeiro demonstrates art’s function both as a liberatory tool and fulcrum for exploitation. The data substantiating this thesis were compiled through myriad sources: the social and aesthetic theory of Adorno, his contemporaries, and predecessors; interviews with Brazilian funk musicians, musicologists, and enthusiasts; three months investigating the musical communities in Rio De Janeiro and São Paulo; relevant documentaries, ethnographic and historical research, news archives, musical releases, and other online media.