Linn da Quebrada is a black trans singer and rapper from the favelas of São Paulo making a rare kind of political dance music in which fundamental messages are not sacrificed for catchy hooks. Quebrada describes herself as a ‘gender terrorist’ who condemns the machista values of her culture, whilst creating a space for the LGBTQ community in the music industry in Brazil. Through a danceable hybrid of funk, samba, hip hop and trap, Linn da Quebrada shares and celebrates the experiences of this community whilst making music that people can dance to. Music Editor Zara Huband reports.
Linn da Quebrada challenges all the traditions of an increasingly conservative and evangelical Brazil, where the amount of anti-LGBTQ violence – especially transphobic violence- is some of the highest in the world. But it is also where the biggest Pride Parade takes place every year, in São Paulo, Linn da Quebrada’s city. Brazil is a country full of contradictions, where many people are trying to silence the LGBTQ community which Linn da Quebrada is fighting to make visible.
The visual plays an important role in Linn Da Quebrada’s music. Every one of her music videos features a diverse cast of people from the LGBTQ community, unapologetically performing their identity by taking to the streets of São Paulo, a subversive act in itself. Take the video for ‘Enviadescer’, for example, which features a diverse crowd of twerking, dancing queer performers celebrating themselves and their culture which is threatened in Brazil. It’s a beautifully liberating music video showcasing Linn Da Quebrada’s use of her body to assert her power.
Da Quebrada’s videos are atmospheric, political tellings of important stories. She reorients the emphasis of her music videos by diverting the macho focus. ‘Pajubá’, a crowdfunded visual album that was released in October 2017 is considered by da Quebrada as a ‘Lemonade’ (Beyoncé’s visual album) for the queer femmes of São Paulo. ‘Pajubá’ is the secret coded language of Brazil’s trans community that was created as a way of protecting themselves, using language as a weapon and a means of self-preservation. It’s a language that is constantly evolving and it is just as much about attitude and performance as it is about words. Linn uses ‘Pajubá’ to present the often harsh reality of being queer in Brazil. The lyrics are descriptive and honest and they make people aware of the struggles faced by a marginalised group but also of the respect they deserve.
Bato palmas para as travestis* que lutam para existir
E a cada dia batalhando conquistar o seu direito de
Viver brilhar e arrasar
Applaud the femmes that fight to exist
And every day fighting to conquer the right
To live, shine and slay
*The term travesti would translate directly into English as transvestite but in Brazil it has become a way of referring to trans-identifying women and no longer has the same meaning as in English.
The album is composed of 16 tracks, each with a unique accompanying video that narrates different aspects of femininity, whilst exploring the richness of Brazil’s musical history. Beneath each track you can detect a classic samba beat showing that Linn da Quebrada’s music is rooted in the musical traditions of her country whilst updating itself to include new voices in its musical culture.
The recent documentary, ‘Bixa Travesty’ (2018), which shocked audiences on the film festival circuit this February, follows Linn and another trans performer, Jup do Bairro. The film is a radical, personal and abrasive account of self-expression, comparable to the Chilean Pedro Lemebel’s ‘Las Yeguas del Apocalipsis’ performance collective.
Linn da Quebrada’s music highlights the importance of challenging widely-held ideas about gender, achieved simply through baring her skill as a dancer, singer, songwriter and filmmaker. She not only makes visible, but importantly celebrates queer bodies through her work.
Header image- The Up Coming