Afro-Brazilian Music: History in Lyrics

A group of mostly Black and brown people sit in a circle holding musical instruments in a casual dance studio space with mottled brown floors.



Created by Graduate Fellow Henrique Yagui Takahashi, The Ohio State University

Faculty Mentors: Prof. Lissette Acosta Corniel and Prof. Nkechi Agwu

Afro-Brazilian Music Lesson Plan

This BSAA OER presents the history of Afro-Brazilian culture and identity through music, lyrics, visuals, and rhythm. In addition, the students will be able to analyze how Afro-Brazilian music historically portrays Blackness and Black pride in their songs in the twentieth and twentieth-first centuries.

This lesson plan has two activities:

  • Activity #1, “Blackness and Afro-Brazilianness in Contemporary Brazilian Hip-Hop,” will focus on how race and ethnicity in Brazil (and its comparison with US American context) are pursued in contemporary Brazilian Hip-Hop discourse, aesthetics, and music. Students will watch music videos and compare the lyrics, rhythm, and visuals. 
  • Activity #2, “Afro-Brazilian Music Genealogy,” summarizes Afro-Brazilian history and its legacy in Brazilian culture. This genealogy begins with jongo, one of the first Afro-Brazilian music and dance genre, followed by modern Afro-Brazilian music such as samba, MPB, Brazilian rap, and funk. Students will listen to Afro-Brazilian music genres and examine their historical content according to the time period.

Activity #1 – Blackness and Afro-Brazilianness in Contemporary Brazilian Hip-Hop

Students will watch and listen to three videos. This activity allows students to experience Black Brazilian pride through music, audiovisual, and performances. And also compare how Afro-Brazilian and Afro-American music presents race and ethnicity in their songs.

Objectives for Activity #1: 

  • Identify and compare the differences/similarities regarding race and ethnicity between Afro-Brazilians and African Americans.
  • Identify and compare the differences/similarities regarding Afro-diasporic music and rhythm in Brazil and US. If there is any influence of US American music in the Brazilian songs/videoclips.
  • Use your previous knowledge and experience regarding African American culture/music to compare Brazil and US American songs.

List of videos to watch:

  1. “Negro Drama” (2002) – Racionais MC’s [Mano Brown, Edi Rock, Ice Blue & KL Jay]
  1. “Mandume” (2016) – Emicida feat Drika Barbosa, Amiri, Rico Dalassam & Raphão Alaafin.
  1. “BLVESMAN” (2018) – Baco Exu do Blues.

Assignment Instructions:

  1. Watch the three video clips (“Mandume,” “Negro Drama,” and “BLVESMAN”)
  2. Analyze video clips’ lyrics, audiovisual, and rhythmic elements. How does each video clip portray Blackness and Africanness in their lyrics, audiovisual, and rhythm? What are their similarities and differences? Compare them with the African American context.
  3. What is the discourse about Black Lives regulation in each lyric? How is the regulation of Black lives portrayed visually in each video clip? Identify and compare the differences and similarities among them. 


Activity #2 – Afro-Brazilian Music Genealogy

This activity summarizes the history of Afro-Brazilian music recorded in the studio and begins with the jongo “Cangoma me chamou” by Clementina de Jesus. Even though this song is not the first Afro-Brazilian music recorded. However, it is the first jongo recorded by a record label. Jongo (in Kimbundu Bantu language: juhungu) is one of the first Afro-Brazilian music and dance genre, and enslaved Africans brought it during the colonial era in Brazil (Pacheco, 2007). The song “Cangoma me chamou” [Cangoma called me], interpreted by Clementina de Jesus, is a call for freedom by enslaved Africans. “Cangoma” derives from the Kongo word “ngoma,” which means “drum” in English. The song repeats the lyrics, “Tava durumindo/Quando cangoma me chamou/Disse levanta povo/O cativeiro, já acabou” (I was sleeping/When cangoma called me out/Said, get up people/The imprisonment is over). Finally, Jongo has rhythmically and melodically influenced all Brazilian music genres, such as samba, MPB, bossa nova, Brazilian funk, and rap. 

Objectives for Activity #2:

  • Learn the Afro-Brazilian music history (jongo, samba, MPB, Brazilian funk, and rap) and the influences of African musicality in the Brazilian music genres. 
  • Compare rhythm, melody, and lyrics among Afro-Brazilian music genres.
  • Identify and compare how Afro-Brazilian artists present race and ethnicity through rhythm, melody, and lyrics in the context of Brazilian society. 
  • Identify and compare similarities/differences between Afro-Brazilian and African American music. Does US American music influences Afro-Brazilian music, and vice-versa?

Assignment Instructions:

  1. Listen to “Cangoma me chamou” [Cangoma called me] (1966) – Clementina de Jesus
  2. Select one “Samba” music and compare it with “Cangoma me chamou”.
  3. Select one “MPB” and compare it 
  4. Listen to all music in “Brazilian Rap” and compare them.
  5. Listen to all music in “Brazilian Funk” and compare them.
  6. Select one samba song and MPB song and compare them with Clementina’s jongo. What are their similarities and differences?
  7. Select one Brazilian rap and funk and compare them with US Hip Hop music. What are their similarities and differences?
  8. Select one samba song and one Brazilian rap or funk song and describe how they portray Blackness and/or Afro-Brazilianness in their lyrics and videoclips. 


“Cangoma me chamou” [Cangoma called me out] (1966) – Clementina de Jesus


“Preciso me encontrar” [I need to find myself] (1974) – Cartola

“Sorriso negro” [Black Smile] (1981) – Dona Ivone Lara

“Zé do Caroço” (1985) – Leci Brandão

“Nosso grito” (1999) – Fundo de Quintal

MPB (Brazilian Popular Music)

“Canto de Ossanha” [Ossanha’s Song] (1966) – Baden Powell

“Tudo que você podia ser” [Everything you could be] (1972) – Milton Nascimento

“África Brasil (Zumbi)” [Africa Brazil Zumbi] (1976) – Jorge Ben

“Mama África” (1995) – Chico César

“A carne” [The Flesh] (2002) – Elza Soares

Brazilian Rap

“Capítulo 4, Versículo 3” (1997) – Racionais MC’s

“Um bom lugar” [A good place] (2000) – Sabotage

“Ponta de lança” (2017) – Rincon Sapiência

“Ismália” (2019) – Emicida

Brazilian Funk

“Rap da Felicidade” (1995) – Cidinho & Doca

“Boladona” (2004) – Tati Quebra Barraco

“Baile de favela” (2016) – MC João

“Sarrada no ar [Passinho do Romano]” (2017) – MC Crash


Year Song  Artist
1966 “Cangoma me chamou”  Clementina de Jesus
  “Canto de Ossanha”  Baden Powell
1972 “Tudo que você podia ser” Milton Nascimento
1974 “Preciso me encontrar”  Cartola
1976 “África Brasil (Zumbi)” Jorge Ben
1981 “Sorriso negro” Dona Ivone Lara
1985 “Zé do Caroço”  Leci Brandão
1995 “Mama África”  Chico César
  “Rap da Felicidade”  Cidinho & Doca
1997 “Capítulo 4, Versículo 3”  Racionais MC’s
1999 “Nosso grito” Fundo de Quintal
2000 “Um bom lugar”  Sabotage
2002 “A carne”  Elza Soares
2004 “Boladona”  Tati Quebra Barraco
2016 “Baile de favela”  MC João
2017 “Ponta de lança”  Rincon Sapiência
  “Sarrada no ar [Passinho do Romano]”  MC Crash
2019 “Ismália”  Emicida


Barbosa, Eduardo Brasil. “Samba and Police: Everyday Resistance and Stories of a Counter-Hegemonic Perspective in Rio de Janeiro City.,” Herança 3, no. 2 (December 31, 2021): 64–78.

Bertelli, Giordano Barbin. “Errâncias Racionais: A Periferia, o RAP e a Política,” Sociologias 14, no. 31 (December 1, 2012): 214–37.

Bezerra-Perez, Carolina dos Santos. Saravá Jongueiro Velho! Memória e Ancestralidade No Jongo Do Tamandaré. Juiz de Fora: Ed. UFJF, 2021.

Dias, Paulo. “O Lugar Da Fala: Conversas Entre o Jongo Brasileiro e o Ondjango Angolano,” Rev. Inst. Estud. Bras., no. 59 (December 2014): 329–68.

Dutra, Paulo. “Racionais MC’s, Marighella e o Branqueamento Do Brasil,” Estudos de literatura brasileira contemporânea, no. 59 (2020).

Freyre, Gilberto. Casa Grande & Senzala: Formação Da Família Brasileira Sob o Regime Da Economia Patriarcal. 48th ed. Recife, Brasil: Global Editora, 2003.

Garcia, Walter. “Ouvindo Racionais MC’S.” Revista de Literatura Brasileira, December 8, 2003.

Gimeno, Patrícia. “Poética Versão – a Construção Do Rap Na Periferia.” Unicamp, 2009.

Gonzalez, Lélia. A Categoria Político-Cultural de Amefricanidade. Edited by Flavia Rios and Márcia Lima. Por Um Feminismo Afro Latino-Americano. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2020.

———. Racismo e Sexismo Na Cultura Brasileira. Edited by Flavia Rios and Marcia Lima. Por Um Feminismo Afro-Latinoamericano. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2020.

Hayes, Patricia. “Order Out of Chaos: Mandume Ya Ndemufayo  And Oral History,” Journal of Southern African Studies 19, no. 1 (March 1993).

Lopes, Nei. Enciclopédia Brasileira Da Diáspora Africana. São Paulo: Selo Negro, 2004.

Martins, Raquel. “Uma Reflexão a Partir Do Rap ‘Vida Loka II’, Do Racionais MC’s,” Música Popular em Revista 2, no. Ano 2 (2014).

Mukuna, Kazadi Wa. Contribuição Bantu Na Música Popular Brasileira: Perspectivas Etnomusicológicas. São Paulo: Terceira Margem, 2000.

Munanga, Kabenguele. “Negritude Afro-Brasileira: Perspectivas e Dificuldades ,” Revista De Antropologia, no. 33 (1990): 109–17.

Pacheco, Gustavo. Memória Por Um Fio: As Gravações Históricas de Stanley J. Stein. Edited by Silvia Hunold Lara and Gustavo Pacheco. Memória Do Jongo: As Gravações Históricas de Stanley J. Stein. Rio de Janeiro & Campinas: Folha Seca & CECULT, 2007.

Pimentel, Spensy. “O Livro Vermelho Do Hip Hop.” Universidade de São Paulo, 1997.

Pinho, Osmundo. “Racionais Mc’s: Cultura Afro-Brasileira Contemporânea Como Política Cultural,” Afro-Hipanic Review 30, 30 (2011): 101–14.

Raymond, Lavínia. “Algumas Danças Populares No Estado de São Paulo.” Universidade de São Paulo, 1954.

Silva, José Carlos Gomes da. Rap Na Cidade de São Paulo: Juventude Negra, Música e Segregação Urbana (1984-1998). Uberlândia: UDUFU, 2016.

Tinhorão, José Ramos. Os Sons Dos Negros No Brasil. São Paulo: Editora 34, 2008.

Zeni, Bruno. “O Negro Drama Do Rap: Entre a Lei Do Cão e a Lei Da Selva,” Estudos Avançados 50, no. 15 (2004).