After reading the blog and learning my story one would think that I learned spanish through fornication. I would say that is probably a tad true, however music played such huge role in my learning. The way I went about it was a method that I see many aspiring language learners overlooking. There is a simple secret to language learning! You may have already seen my post about the music scene in Panama and how I dived into it learning and translating every song. This is such a necessary aspect of language learning! You have to find music that you enjoy and learn it word for word, then sing with it in the mirror, in the shower, driving in your car and in front of people. Do this even when you have absolutely no idea what they are saying, just learn the words and repeat them. Once you can sing right along with the artist, then its time to know what you are saying. Hopefully you have chosen a song with some type of popularity so that the lyrics can be found on the internet. Once you have the lyrics you can read along to the song and translate each line word for word. You will now have a new level of understanding about the depth of the record, or you will be disappointed by how stupid the song you thought was so hot really is.
One thing that studying a country’s biggest musicians as an American does, is give you respect from the people that live there. Many Americans come to these places with their own agendas and don’t even think twice about getting to know the the culture and music that exist in these places. Now to bring you up to date, lets fast forward to the present. I know Spanish, sure i am willing to learn new words and how to say things in different dialects but I was ready for a new language. Our Negros Americanos Facebook Page has been getting likes from Brazilian women who didn’t know us for a while. I never knew how they found us……Then I found Negro Show fb page. They display half naked muscular Black men, some from Brazil and some from the states and all over-as well as beautiful natural haired women and quaint black families. A lot of Brazilian women like to go on there and in doing so, stumbled upon our page. I noticed the sheer number of likes that page had and it told me..wow! Something is happening here that we should pay attention to.
Negros Americanos-Black Americans means the same thing in Portuguese. And our youtube channel had quite a few Brazilian subscribers and plays even though the songs were only in english or spanish. When you google the word Negros Americanos, you will see all of our info then everything else will be something Brazilian posted about our black history in America. It just seems as if Brazilians are a very culturally aware open minded people that listen to any genre of music, and the population in that country means that it is a huge musical frontier! Sure Snoop Dogg and Pharell enjoy shooting music videos, but imagine if they rapped in Portuguese in some of those songs. I saw what I had to do now so I started translating Brazilian music, beginning with some popular samba songs like Mas que Nada by Sergio Mendez. However, one cant learn a language by song translation alone. You still have to practice with someone, and while spanish is everywhere around here it is hard to to find someone to practice Portuguese with. I met one guy that spoke and said he wanted to help but uhhhhhhh…where language is concerned…..Preferably with a female buddy lol an attractive female lol…is that wrong?
I was invited into this group called the Nomadness Travel Tribe last year and I quickly realized that this was a by far the best group that I could have been a part of on facebook!!!!!! The Travel Tribe is filled with successful black and latino individuals, and many of the best, most adventurous open minded women that you would want to know-in my opinion. Its such a great tool and community! For example-say I wanted to go to Samoa, or the Marshall Islands. You can almost bet that someone in the Tribe as been there, and you can ask ..”Hey does anyone know what the cheapest place to stay there”- and they will tell you. They also will tell you things you cant find in many blogs, such as-“look for the black fish saleman at the edge of ____”- insert name of beach. “He has the cheapest and most fruity____ “-insert some type of delicious beverage. They go on many trips together and even RV tours around the nation. I have not yet been on any of these excursions with them, but one day I want to experience it, the fun. The tribe is not only limited to people from the states, rather the entire world. It was through the tribe that I met her: A beautiful multi-lingual, open-minded-super intelligent-and travel hungry Afro Brazilian, Eliane!!!
I took to the Tribe vocalizing my thirst for learning Portuguese and Brazilian culture, and she responded. It was almost as if there was a golden glow around her profile photo with opera singers in the background! She told me that she wouldn’t mind helping me with Portuguese and teaching me about Brazilian culture. She is from a city called Porto Alegre, Brazil, the Principal city from the state Rio Grande de Sul. I always looked at Brazil as such a hot tropical country, but her area is one of four seasons and can be pretty cold in the winter. In regards to travel, musical interests, language learning and movies we seem to be almost identicals. We quickly began to skype whenever we had time, she seemed to really like the idea of Negros Americanos-further telling me that we are heading in the right direction. One thing she did that was monumental was to open my eyes to a language learning website called Duolingo.com . This was such a useful tool, as it is Free!!!!! It is every bit as effective as Rosetta Stone, however it is linked in through social network and email so you can make friends-moniter each other’s progress and race each other to see who can up the level the fastest. I have been hooked on Duolingo since then and have been spreading the word about it. Then, she said hey, do you want to hear what Brazilian rap sounds like? I said yes. I didn’t know what to expect, but nothing could have prepared me for what I heard!!
Eliane told me about the hip hop scene. She sent me music form Racionais MC’s, possibly Brazil’s most popular rap group. At first I was hooked from the flow and chorus alone, just like with the panamanian music I would learn the songs fully before I even know what the artist is saying. Its all about catching the groove and just enjoying the song. When I actually translated their music, I was blown away by the clever social commentary an the lessons that their music teaches against such a savage backdrop. A vida e desafio (life is a challenge) speaks of dreaming amongst the setbacks that you may face coming from the ghetto, in the case of Racionais MC’s and every other artist that I posted on here, they come from São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city.
Diario de um detento-Diary of an inmate- is extremely violent, probably the most violent music video I have ever seen in my life. Eliane told me that was one of her favorite songs from Racionais! Several minutes into the song I was like whats happening? Why are all of these bodies piling up? What happened there in São Paulo. Being the inquisitive individual that I am I checked it out! So in this song Diario de um detento– Mano Brown from Racionais MC’s is speaking of a Massacre that took place in the Carandiru prison on October 2, 1992. 111 people were killed by the military police of Sao Paulo after a prison riot that couldn’t be controlled, the video paints that picture so vividly. It also is good that Mano Brown really has a slow flow and annunciates so well that I can follow him well.
Racionais MC’s were also responsible for bringing out other artists. The group from the next song I posted actually formed in that same Prison, Carandiru. I found this guy Dexter, from the crew 509-E,on my own accord. I was looking for new music that I could get jiggy with, and really came across gold-Saudades Mil. This is my favorite song right now hands down. I have been singing it non stop since I first discovered it about a week ago. He is writing a letter from prison to a lady friend of his, asking for information of what is happening in his hood-favela. And talking about the evils that he faces on the inside. This song elicits so much emotion from me, even though I have never been in prison, I can envision his pain clearly as well as the hope he feels for getting out and reuniting with his people!
Now The last group is a reggae group. These beautiful vocalists and their band make up Filosofia Reggae! They sing songs of serenity and good vibes, talking about nature, history, relatable feelings and emotions. A far cry form the dark hip hop that I had been listening to. Its something that I could listen to and smile. I am taken back by not only how good their music is, but how popular it is. Look at all of the people they reach in their performances, the trance-like state that the music seems to put the concert goer in-if you will. Sentimento Bom Was probably the easiest song for me to learn. Here is what I will use as a language learning example:
O sol, a lua e as estrelas
É tudo muito lindo
O som no ar, faz você dançar, bonita melodia
No tom eu canto livremente relaxanda a minha mente
À sós no mar podemos viajar
The sun, the moon and the stars
It is all very beautiful
The sound in the air, makes you dance, a beautiful melody
In tone I sing freely relaxing my mind
Alone at sea we can travel
from translating just that first part in Sentimento Bom I learned how to say sun, moon, and stars, and sound. I learned that Relaxada is pronounced Heylashada and mente is pronounced meynchi. Those are things that I will not forget because now my mind will always associate those words with Sentiment Bom, and that song is buried deep in my brain from constant play. If we look at numbers it makes so much sense to learn this language. many spanish speaking Latin American countries just don’t host a hip hop/reggae fan base this popular by far. Look at the numbers on Racionais MC’s song A vida e Desafio. It is a performance video with mediocre editing it has eighteen million views on youtube. I walk away from this smiling, knowing that we are making the right decision. Brazil awaits us!!