This 26-year-old was born Jefferson Ricardo Silva in Taboão da Serra, a working-class community on the outskirts of São Paulo, but he reinvented himself as Rico Dalasam — a rapper with looks to die for, who takes equal pride in his sexuality and in his Afro-Brazilian heritage.
Dalasam honed his craft in the same DJ duels that birthed Rashid, Projota and other famed MC’s in the South Zone of São Paulo; but while the competition mostly rapped about the struggles of life in the hood, Dalasam had other ideas. His first single (2014) was called “Aceite-C” (“Accept Yourself”), and while it worked as an all-purpose self-love anthem, the lyrics (and particularly the video) made it pretty clear Dalasam was talking about embracing one’s sexual identity.
Musically, the track was pretty impressive too, sampling some killer percussion from LGBT icon Daniela Mercury‘s “O Mais Belo Dos Belos” and embracing the global beats sound of which Karol Konka — who Dalasam claims as an influence — is Brazil’s best-known representative. That’s the sound he showcased in his first EP, released later that year, along with hip hop and EDM.
Dalasam’s status as Brazil’s first queer rapper earned him a lot of media attention, as did his ever-changing looks.
His sense of style is off the charts even by Manhattan standards. When he came to town for Afropunk Festival 2015, he caught Vogue’s eye and landed a spot on a photo feature highlighting “The Best of Afropunk Street Style.”
But there’s also substance to Dalasam. His rhymes offer a richly observed take on Brazil’s millennials — connected globally but living it up locally, still clinging to the hope of upward mobility, and above all defining their identity on their own idyosincratic terms. Although he hasn’t identified as Muslim, his artistic name refers to an Iranian village, and he’s looking for the nexus between Afro-Brazilian pride and gay pride.
“From the deepest reaches of South America/
Between the hich-tech and the rural/
Of course our streets need to live through Stonewall/
São Paulo needs other rebels/
Panthers black, pride in their skin”
That’s from “Dalasam,” a statement of purpose from his first full-length album, Orgunga. The title is a made-up word that Dalasam defines as “the pride that follows shame.”
If you join Dalasam’s fan club, you’ll be in good company. Brazilian music giant Gilberto Gil called him on Twitter “the rapper who breaks taboos by rhyming.”
“Rico Dalasam, o rapper gay brasileiro que quebra tabus rimando”https://t.co/8G4mufnI4Z
— Gilberto Gil (@gilbertogil) January 26, 2015