While radio stations everywhere were playing the commercial hit "Ai Se Eu Te Pego" two years ago, the streets of Rio and São Paulo were exploding with the socially conscious raps of Emicida, a 27-year-old MC who's credited for taking rap from the favelas to the national stage.
Dubbed by many as the Brazilian Jay Z, Emicida was born Leandro Roque de Oliveira to a poor family in North São Paulo. He's one of a handful of Brazilian rappers such as Criolo, Ogi, Projota, Rashid, Marechal, Kamau who have elevated rap from the outskirts of Brazilian society to the mainstream.
Much like American rap, Emicida's music raises awareness about those who've been left behind Brazil's economic boom.
Emicida busted on the scene in 2006 with his legendary underground rap battles. Then in 2009 he independently distributed and sold 10,000 copies of his first mixtape, which he sold for less than a dollar. The following year he released two more successful mixtapes which defined him as one of the leading voices of Brazil's hip-hop generation.
Appearances in Coachella, Rock in Rio and Brazil's MTV Music Awards soon followed, further solidifying his status.
Check out the video above for a profile of Emicida.