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Art and Music in the ‘City of God’

It looks like the Olympics are headed to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, one of our favorite cities in the world. It’s also the setting for one of our favorite films — City of God. While the athletes and tourists will be treated to the high life during the 2016 games, the 2002 film shows another side of the city, the favela slums that are a stark contrast to the city’s glamorous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.


‘City of God’ tells the story of a group of Brazilian street kids from the late ’60s to the early ’80s. Most of the film’s stars were actual residents of the favelas, not professional actors, including the singer-songwriter Seu Jorge.
Located 15 miles above the city’s pristine beaches, the Cidade de Deus — or CDD — may not be the first stop on a tour of the city. But Brazil’s slums have spawned a vibrant street art scene that rivals anywhere else in the world. Though Rio’s graffiti scene is not as well known as that in the massive city of São Paulo, Rio offers a graffiti scene that goes well beyond simple tags. In fact, many artists legally paint over the city’s crumbling walls, filling the city with beautiful, and colorful messages of hope, or political protest. Check out one of our favorite pieces — giant portraits wheatpasted directly on the walls of a Rio favela, by street artist/photog JR — on Wooster Collective.
A new rap sound has also come from the favelas — the same place that birthed samba. This new Brazilian rap is pioneered by artists like the controversial MV Bill, an artist who uses his music as a platform to speak out on issues of social inequality.

image: João Perdigão/Flickr

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