CONSCIOUS HIP HOP IN PORTUGAL


At CRØSS THE.LINE we promote a sustainable lifestyle which is clearly linked to the conservation of nature and the choices we make as consumers. Nevertheless, we believe that sustainability goes further and that the sustainable functioning of our society as a whole must be included. A sustainable lifestyle requires consciousness of the social issues in our surrounding world, as it is all interconnected. Our Urban Series was developed to raise awareness on gender equality, racism, mental health and other relevant topics of our current society. Alongside fashion, music is a powerful instrument for people to express their thoughts and feelings about social topics. Hip hop has been a potent movement for artists to speak up due to its authentic and unapologetic history.

THE HIP HOP “TUGA*” MOVEMENT

Hip Hop is much more than a music genre. It is a cultural movement which includes not only rap music but also DJ’s, MC’s, graffiti and fashion. Before becoming internationally commercialized, its original focus was to give a spotlight to topics related to society and urban violence. In Portugal, the hip hop movement started in the ’90s in suburban communities around Lisbon, as a political opposition against inequality and racism. At the time, there was hardly any space in the media for this controversial movement, and whoever entered the hip hop world did it for the love of the cause.

"In Portugal, the hip hop movement started in the ’90s in suburban communities around Lisbon, as a political opposition against inequality and racism."

Today, 25 years later, the opposite occurs, as many new generation hip hop artists go mainstream, gaining thousands of views on online platforms and reach top national popularity. This phenomenon has brought a shadow onto the original purpose and passion of those who birthed this movement. However, there are still many artists who are fighting against the deculturization and commercialization of the hip hop movement. Many define their art as conscious rap, a sub-genre of hip hop, propelled by the conviction that radical social changes come through knowledge and self-discovery, and therefore focus on raising awareness on violence, discrimination, and other social problems. Their lyrics dissect the ideals and attitudes propagated by mainstream culture. One of these artists is Marcos Best, with whom we had the pleasure to do a brief interview. To access the Portuguese version click here.

MARCOS BEST

Marcos Best

Admired for his lyrical songwriting, Marcos Best gives a voice to those who spent years unheard. His love for poetry and art are the ingredients to his creations. He is a storyteller who strives to conserve hip hop as a conscious and raw art instead of a trend.

When and what initially led you to sing?

I don't remember exactly when I started singing or wanting to do so, but I know it was something very natural. Rap music has always been present in my life, hip hop culture became my lifestyle and so it was natural for me to express myself through rap. From one moment to the next things started to become more serious. I got the opportunity to record my first songs in 2006 and I remember that in 2008 there were already people who listened to my music. I never had a specific reason to sing, I’ve always done it because it’s my passion and I knew I had a talent for it. It has always been my favourite way of communicating.

What does music represent to you?

Music for me is something transcendent. I find it incredible how there is always a perfect song for every moment of life. It is magical how each song has its story and each of us has our own story with different songs. For me, music is something really profound, with even spiritual outlines.

How do you characterize yourself as an artist?

I like to see myself as someone versatile, with a way of writing which is raw, intelligent and incisive.

What would you say is your inspiration for composing and singing?

I’m inspired by life, nature, the course and the cycle of things.

What are some of the central themes that you represent in your art?

My art has always represented my life in different stages. I express many of my traumas as well as my love stories like in “Ruinas”, “Mais que Dinheiro(More than Money) and “Clyde Barrow”, although for most of my career I have addressed social issues such as inequality, discrimination and the daily life in social neighbourhoods in songs like “Está Tudo Bem(Everything is Alright) and “No Gueto”. Other times I like to tell stories like in “Quem Vê Caras Não Vê Corações(Who Sees Faces doesn’t See Hearts) where I sing about an immigrant woman I met one night in the Bairro Alto.

Music is the universal language of mankind, a powerful weapon to expose hard truths and oppose injustice, and a therapy to express inner traumas and heal the heart. As Plato once said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”

This being said, we want you to know that social issues are as important to CRØSS THE.LINE studio as any other environmental topics, because in the end, we are part of nature.

*TUGA is used in Portuguese slang to describe something from Portugal. It can be music, food or even a person.

by Sara-Lisa Gujral


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