Chico’s superb Subúrbio

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In Chico Buarque’s 2006 choro-canção Subúrbio (Suburb), one notices, aside from the ample alliteration, the journey throughout, and the distinctions made between, the coveted Zona Sul and the often poor and forgotten suburbs. His repetitive “Fala” tells the suburbs and favelas to speak up and make themselves known, as they belong to the city too. His reference to Jesus having turned his back is not only literal, depending on the location of the neighborhood, but of course suggestively figurative. Chico even references Jobim’s Águas de Março towards the end, a symbol of Bossa Nova and the Zona Sul, but he ends that verse with “é foda” to bring the listener back into the scenario of the song. Interestingly, this sort of lyrical social commentary is paralleled in funk carioca’s early days. Below, I’ve translated some of what I’d consider the key lyrics.

Further analysis can be found in the paper A Crônica Poética de uma Cidade (PT).


Lá não tem brisa / There’s no breeze there
Não tem verde-azuis / There’s no blue-green [eyes]

Lá não figura no mapa / There isn’t featured on the map
No avesso da montanha, é labirinto / On the other side of the mountain, it’s a labyrinth

Fala, Penha / Speak, Penha
Fala, Irajá / Speak, Irajá
Fala, Olaria / Speak, Olaria
Fala, Acari, Vigário Geral / Speak, Acari, Vigário Geral
Fala, Piedade / Speak, Piedade
Casas sem cor / Colorless houses
Ruas de pó, cidade / Dusty streets, city
Que não se pinta / That aren’t painted
Que é sem vaidade / That are without vanity

Vai, faz ouvir os acordes do choro-canção / Go, make the chords of choro-canção be heard
Traz as cabrochas e a roda de samba / Bring young mulatto girls and the samba group
Dança teu funk, o rock, forró, pagode, reggae / Dance your funk, …
Teu hip-hop / Your hip-hop
Fala na língua do rap / Speak in the language of rap

Lá não tem moças douradas / There are no bronze girls there
Expostas, andam nus / Exposed, the women walk nude
Pelas quebradas, teus exus / On the hillsides, your Exus
Não tem turistas / There’s no tourists
Não sai foto nas revistas / Photos aren’t for the magazines
Lá tem Jesus / There’s Jesus there
E está de costas / And his back is turned

Lá não tem claro-escuro / There’s no chiaroscuro there
A luz é dura / Light is harsh
A chapa é quente / The griddle is hot [It’s dangerous]
Que futuro tem / What future is there
Aquela gente toda / [For] all those people

É pau, é pedra / It’s a stick, it’s a stone
É fim de linha / It’s the end of the line
É lenha, é fogo, é foda / It’s wood, it’s fire, it’s messed up

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