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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
2/5/2004 1:52:45 PM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Snoop Dogg and Ja Rule.

Rio de Janeiro—U.S. hip-hop artists traveling overseas, beware. Just because you are filthy rich and internationally known don't expect the welcome mat to spring under your shoe heels, especially if you're not down to spread your wealth with the people. Such was the case in Brazil, where last week thousands of hip-hop aficionados braced themselves for a controversial hip-hop festival featuring Snoop Dog and Ja Rule. Apparently not everyone in the country was ecstatic about the prospect of another North American invasion on their home turf, and no, this had no relation to Brazil's denouncement of the Iraqi invasion.

On January 6 a coalition of established Brazilian groups, some of which were scheduled to open up for Snoop and Ja, bailed out of the event—and the big paycheck—citing the promoter's refusal to reinvest the profits into the poor communities that have propelled Brazilian hip-hop into the national spotlight. According to MV Bill, a successful and well respected MC who subsequently turned down the paid invitation to perform, "The organizers are not interested in our issues, or what we rhyme about, they just want to buy our legitimacy… and I have a moral commitment to uphold the history that has created hip-hop, I pity the black man who sells our history for a price."

And such was the opinion of many of Brazil's biggest hip-hop stars, all of whom collaborated on a widely circulated open letter which rapidly spread throughout the internet and radio outlets. The two- day festival, "Hip-Hop Manifest", took place in Rio de Janeiro and Florianópolis and was produced and promoted by a group of television industry personalities known as G-10. At the center of the controversy are this hip-hop nation's militant stance against corporate affiliations and a white-owned media industry that is increasingly trying to carve inroads and profit from hip-hop's mass appeal. The organizers, with their ties to television and a chic upscale newspaper were able to lure major television and beer sponsors.

However, Brazilian hip-hop, by and large, continues to identify with Black consciousness and the marginalized life of the favelas , poor shanty towns with deplorable living conditions--a sharp contrast to the sometimes festive and consumer friendly images the promoters are pushing through their influential networks. Seeking validation from an estimated 20 million hip-hop enthusiasts accustomed to seeing even the most well-paid artists living among the poorest neighborhoods and moonlighting as community teachers, the promoters had no choice but to enlist their support.

But when word got out about steep ticket prices and a non-existing revenue sharing plan with the community, one by one, artists and groups began pulling their names from the event, foregoing hefty compensation in the process. L.F. a Sao Paulo based MC expressed his interest in having people, including African American rappers, recognize that "we fight against injustice, and we cannot allow ourselves to be seen simply as idols…ever since I began creating hip hop my dream was to show Black people that we could be free and break the shackles." Snoop, isn't this beautiful?

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