Santa Mala, An All Women Bolivian Hip Hop Group Representing Diasporic Roots

By 08 March, 2016

Meet Santa Mala, an up and coming all female Bolivian hip hop group based in São Paulo, Brazil. Having a chola-esque feel to their rapping and fashion style, this group is crossing all kinds of borders.

Three sisters from La Paz, they are symbols that speak to the Bolivian female experience in Brazil and in hip hop. Their song, “Raza” talks about their indigenous Bolivian pride and colonial conditions. Their tough and strong style makes you want to hear more Santa Mala music. In collaboration with LATAM Esquad (a network of South American rappers wanting to connect in São Paulo) Santa Mala are an influential hip hop group crossing boundaries. Their presence as apart of the Bolivian diaspora in Brazil sheds light on the inter-regional migration within South America.

São Paulo is the largest destination for Bolivian immigrants in Brazil with a population of 80,000-150,000 Bolivians today. In the 1950s, many migrated to Brazil for education, economic and political reasons. The 1980 Bolivian immigration wave consisted of many young women and men chasing the promise of better salaries in São Paulo. Although they came from different parts of Bolivia, the majority originated from rural sectors like Cochabamba. By the mid 1990s, there was a strong Bolivian presence in São Paulo with many neighbourhoods – such as Bom Retiro, Bras and Pari – prominently Bolivian and keeping their culture alive.

With over 50% of Bolivian immigrants in Brazil being women, Santa Mala and their strong identity to both their culture and hip hop are a testament to this inter regional migration narrative. Santa Mala themselves suffered unfair labour treatment in the clothes-making industry. After understanding the market, they decided to make their own clothes to sell without working for anybody else. Creating connections in the South American hip hop community, Santa Mala have promised to reclaim this narrative and make it their own through their music, networking and even clothes.

Keep an eye out for these mujeres who are changing the Latin American hip hop game. Below is a video created by Reporter Brasil on their art and their story as rappers and seamstresses in Brazil:

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