Criolo has captured the mood of a post-slump pre-Olympics Brazil by combining social commentary with humour. This rapper, composer and urban poet is one of Brazil’s most acclaimed songwriter/performers, and will play Cambridge Junction on April 21st (tickets here). Slate the Disco caught up with him ahead of his show via email.

Growing up in Favela das Imbuias, a shanty town on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Criolo says he had a hard childhood, but he’s quick to point out that there’s another side to his childhood home. “A lot of poverty reveals a Brazil that a lot of people try to hide, but also reveals lots of love. Everyone around us was our friend and helped us out”, he writes.

Despite being outspoken about social issues himself, Criolo is humble in saying that he doesn’t think he encourages other rappers in Brazil to follow his lead. “The important thing is to be true to your truth and your honesty. The music helps us to understand the world’s realities, and the beauty of transformation present in all of us.”

He started writing when he was just 11 years old, and recalls the first time he realized that he could share his experiences through music. “When I was 12 I started to show some rhymes to friends (but I don’t know what they thought of that). We were kids, but by the time I was 13 I realized, whilst listening to other rappers, that I could also describe my everyday reality to other people,” writes Criolo.

What inspires your music and writing?

“My family, my friends and our will to make a better world. This is what inspires me the most to breath music, write and sing. A lot of the things that I lived I don’t wish them to anyone, the suffering leaves deep profound scars in the soul. And it’s important to give good energy to the world”, he writes honestly.

How important is it to you to spread messages of the problems that happen in Brazil through your music?

“I sing the things my heart asks me, that it shows. I believe that, to share visions, ideas, realities, is an amazing thing. I always hope I can somehow bring emotion, create something good to try to change this unequal world scenario.”

Why did you want to base your music in a message that shows the plight of people living in favelas?

“I was born and raised in a loving environment, but in an ocean of suffering, pain and anger. It was not a choice, I didn’t chose that, it happened. I ate the suffering to throw up love. You either become a monster or you take everything and learn how to survive. To change the hate into love. And the anger you feel, into solutions to [create] a positive world.”

You released your latest record ‘Convoque seu buda’ last year, how has it been received? And has it been interpreted how you expected it to be?

“It’s all very beautiful, and the music transforms itself. Music only gets complete when it hits the other with the same (or more) intensity that it was to myself. This is the reason why we throw our thoughts into the world.”

What track/s are you most looking forward to playing from the new album?

“I want to sing all of them, I want to respect everyone’s time dedicated to myself, to my presentation. And sing all I can sing.”

What track was the hardest to finish on the last album?

“With Daniel and Marcelo in the production, nothing is “hard to finish”.

Criolo plays the Cambridge Junction J2 on Thursday 21st April
Support on the night comes from Cambridge Hip Hop acts in association with Romsey Mill, more info here.