The Creators Project: When did you start rapping?
Emicida: I didn’t care much about school, or at least I told myself that, so I flunked out and didn’t go to school for a year. When I got back, I was lucky enough to have a teacher that noticed that I was really into comic books. She got me started writing my own stories, and for a while I wanted to design comic books -- even today I still want to do that. But what happened is that from those stories, I started writing poetry. And then I started mixing up my poetry with what I was doing before, which was rapping on the street. Then, after school and work, we started doing freestyle without knowing that was what it was called. We even started rapping in English even though we didn’t even speak the language. We were saying things like “flavor” because it was the only word we kind of knew and heard in rap all the time. After a while, I started to put some words in Portuguese in there, and then I was rapping 100 percent in Portuguese.
What kinds of technology were you using back then?
I had a microphone, tapes, cables, and stuff like that. My mom bought a little keyboard, and I would loop everything from deck A to B of the tape player. I would loop all night, and by the time I was done you couldn’t hear anything anymore -- it just sounded like crap to me. But I took the tape to school and people liked it. They were like, “Wow! This is cool.”
When did you first record in a studio?
I had participated in this rap workshop in São Paulo, and a week later some guys that I met there called me to do the voiceover for a cartoon. In my head no one made money for doing that. Even now I can’t believe it’s a real job. (laughs) The guy called me and said he needed someone who could improvise. I was so nervous—it was my first time in the studio. Then I went to a studio to collaborate with a few guys to make music, and after I met them they wanted me to do an internship there as well. I would make 200 reals a week. That, to me at the time, was like being rich. I’d get out of school and go straight there. It was a great phase. I learned a lot and met a lot of people, and that’s where I learned about music. I started to understand how the process worked.
How did your famous YouTube rap battle come about? Was it a conscious decision to film it and post it online or did it all just happen on its own?
People would shoot the rap battles with these Cyber-shot cameras and they’d almost instantly be uploaded online. The day after my battle that got so many hits, the video was on YouTube and people started sending it to their friends. Then I ran into someone, and he told me I had over one million hits. I hadn’t even recorded an album and I didn’t even have a computer yet, but because of technology, but my name was already out there.