Dancing women at a pool party, men with guns and barbecued sausages, and pink blow-up flamingos: Today, pop culture spreads around the globe massively and without delay. Every day one is confronted with a vast amount of signs from different cultural backgrounds. But how do we read them? How do we understand a music video in a language we don't know? For example, I tried to understand a recent music video from Brazil that was published on the blog of Daniel Haaksman without any comment. There was no chance – I had to ask for help. Here is what reached me from Brazil via email.
It was the video «Pau, Perereca e cu – PPC» by the Brazil musicians Harmonia do Sampler that caught my attention. I was asking myself what this video could be about: is it another sexist piece from Brazil’s vivid funk culture or is there more to it? I could feel a certain kind of irony, but at what are they poking fun actually? To get answers I had to exchange some emails with Rafael Ops aka DJ Ops, one of the members of Harmonia do Sampler. Rafael also sent me a couple of short comments on the video by a few other people. Listen, read, and comment yourself.
[Hannes Liechti]: What is the video about?
[Rafael Ops]: It’s about good-vibe parties. It starts with a bad-vibe trap when one of the characters changes the track and everybody has a great time.
[HL]: What are the lyrics about?
[RO]: It’s funny that I almost feel ashamed to say what it means. The chorus is a repetition of the words «pau, perereca e cu» which literally means «dick, pussy, and ass». Cae Maia, the singer, also says random words like «let’s go, brother!» and «it’s for everybody!» At the beginning he says «Stop the intolerance! I’ll now present you the first polissex success of Brazil». It’s almost a joke, inspired by Bahia music.
[HL]: Why do you feel ashamed to tell me what it means?
[RO]: Well, it felt kind of weird mentioning dick, pussy and ass to someone I had never spoken to before. My innate moralism is still here somewhere.
[HL]: What do you mean by «the first polissex success»?
[RO]: It’s meant that «dick, pussy, and ass» is for everyone: men, women, gays, trans, anyone. Usually, this popular carnival, bahia-influenced music is male chauvinist and usually draws the women as an object and puts them in an uncomfortable place. We are all sensible to the feminist cause.
[HL]: What are the key elements in Bahian music?
[RO]: There are many «Bahia musics». It’s probably the richest cultural region we have in Brazil. In the 90s the term «axé» was popularized worldwide. It’s influenced by Afro-Brazilian rhythms such as «ijexá», Jamaican reggae, Calypso… There’s also the «Guitarra Baiana» which gave birth to the «trio elétrico» – Bahia sound system culture. Now, contemporary groups such as Baiana System are bringing it back. There’s also another phenomenon called «pagodão», which came from what we called «swingueira da bahia». It’s a really danceable slow BPM rhythm that is getting global in the bass culture. Characteristic percussion elements are the «timbal» and the «surdo» bass drum. Congas and Bongos are also common.
[HL]: What have been the reactions on the video in Brazil?
[RO]: In general, this project has been a huge success in Brazil. Some people understood we made a «polissex» carnival joke, about fun, about liberty and we had really great reviews. Others found it too vulgar, too explicit and meaningless. We think that all the reactions were positive as they inspired reflections.
[HL]: What does the band name «Harmonia do Sampler» mean?
[RO]: It is also a parody of another Brazilian band called «Harmonia do Samba» – we replaced the word «samba» with «sampler».
«Dude, what a great video! I was expecting another common sense of crap music, but what I saw was a wonderful parody of this kind of music. The colors, the actors and the cameras clearly reflect the Brazilian diversity, the joy of making fun of our own misfortune, typical of Brazilian people. As a Brazilian, I think that if we are going to consume crap music it's better consuming our own crap music.»
Ana Luiza Bellacosta, Actress and ordinary audience
«What to expect when some of Brasilia's most creative and original people get together? Exactly something like the Harmonia do Sampler and the #PPC video clip. In addition to guaranteed fun, the song comes at a very important moment of debate about tolerance and gender equality. That's awesome!»
Igor Silveira, journalist, subeditor de cultura do jornal Correio Braziliense
«Add a very good sense of humor with some fun choreography and a free and non-moralist spirit and you have the most funny video of the latest Brazilian carnival. The song is based in the genre ‹Pagodão›, from Bahia, but the final result of the video is a melting pot with influences from all over Brazil.»
Lucio K, DJ and producer
«It's been a great experience dealing with such a huge repercussion with #PPC. Lots of lovers, lots of haters are, every day, sending their impressions. We are also looking foward to release the next productions and we know that there are many people waiting curiously. This song was a great kickstart for us to keep on rewriting the Brazilian mass culture sounds in a funny danceable way.»
DJ Ops, Harmonia do Sampler