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Como Você: inside the rule-breaking world of Brazilian grime

Writer and documentarian Jesse Bernard spent months in Brazil researching the burgeoning ‘Brime’ scene for Como Você, his breakneck directorial debut

Taken from the summer 2022 issue of Dazed. You can buy a copy of our latest issue here.

There’s a new beat reverberating in Rio and the side streets of São Paulo. Despite the language barriers, it’s breaking borders and birthing a familiar yet redefined sound. Across oceans via uploads, continents collide, kicking up a fuss. The eerie rhythms and cold grit of grime are inflected with the sun-soaked funk of the favelas. Writer and DJ Jesse Bernard spent several months in Brazil researching the burgeoning ‘Brime’ scene for the documentary Como Você, his directorial debut. Here, first hand, he travels into the heat of the moment.

“Grime culture in Brazil is very similar to grime culture in the UK, and everything that goes with Black culture as well. Beyond the music itself, it’s the fashion, the turning up to sets, the driving up and down the country just to do a show just to promote yourself... and then the environments that create the MCs as well. I’ve been following [artist] SD9 and been with the guys for the past six months. I’ve spent almost every week with them, having barbecues and going on tour. I would say SD9 is the future of grime in Brazil. Then there’s Fleezus, Febem and N.I.N.A, who does more drill and trap these days, but she can ride a grime beat with ease.

“I can’t explain how chaotic and beautiful one day in Brazil can be. It can be your best and worst day at the same time“ - Jesse Bernard

I don’t know what it is about Brazil and UK sounds – they have this deep, emphatic relationship. And obviously, musically and sonically, there are similarities. But I think just on a human level, no matter where it is in the world, whether it’s New York, Chicago or Lagos at the moment, when people have nothing, but they’ve got the talent and the art and the skill to make use of it, that goes a long way. So I would say that this is what binds the two scenes together. It’s not the music alone; it’s the DIY nature that you can’t replicate. You can buy everyone in the scene new Pioneer CDJs, or computers with Ableton built in, which I’m sure would help many people. But I think in terms of what has been achieved so far without those things, it’s unique. You can’t put a price on that. 

I’ve come to learn that grime is a culture. You can label the culture, but when it comes to the music itself, if you strip away the lyrics of a lot of the songs, not many of them are actually grime riddims or instrumentals. Some are UK funky, some are trap, some are drill, garage or dubstep. It’s an amalgamation of sounds. I don’t know what to call the actual music any more. Because it’s so fluid, it changes with the artists and the producer. [What’s unique about Brazilian grime] is the fact that it just slots seamlessly into a funk set, as well as the passion behind it... Brazilians are very animated people. I think I saw Brazil more intimately [while filming Como Você]. Just through the camera lens, through what we were filming and all of the conversations I was having. There’s no other place like Brazil in the world. I can’t explain how chaotic and beautiful one day in Brazil can be. It can be your best and worst day at the same time. Yet people still find a way to make it work.”