pearls negras are rio's coolest teen rap trio
Jennifer, Alice and Mariana are Pearls Negras; the incredibly talented teen rap trio from Rio. Spitting over trap beats that’re impossible not to move to, the childhood friends drop bars that score them frequent comparisons to Beastie Boys and have...
Francesca Jane Allen
It's their first time in Europe and we invite the girls to hang with i-D in London. Getting coffee with them feels sort of like hanging out with your confident little sister and her friends and wondering how they got so cool, so young. We chat about their hometown - the Vidigal favela - and discuss favourite dance moves, being best friends forever and boys boys boys!
How's London working out for you?
Alice: It's all very new for us but an incredible experience. We had a really busy schedule cause we arrived and had 3 shows in Europe but today we had more free time so went swimming which was really nice. We're looking forward to exploring more.
How was your Old Blue Last show? I heard that somebody special showed up…
Alice: Yeah, Andre 3000 came to talk to us! He came over and was like "That was so good!" but he was wearing a hat and we didn't really recognize him. Someone came up to us after like "you know who that was right?" and we couldn't believe it. It was so exciting.
How would you describe each other?
Mariana: Jennifer is always the sweet, sexy girl.
Alice: I see Mariana as the unique one and I model myself on her in many ways. She's like a mix of a woman and a girl. I love how she is on stage - she has this black power and so much confidence. And people can't stop staring at Jennifer because she's super sexy.
Jennifer: Mariana is the intellectual one and Alice is badass.
Tell us about Vidigal…
Alice: It's such an important place to us and it has been so wonderful growing up there, but obviously every place has its ups and downs. It has actually had a big part in the fact that we're here today. We took after school theatre classes, developed as artists and it's basically the reason we're here today.
What's the best thing about growing up there?
Mariana: The arts centre we went to. It really saves the lives of so many kids who go there instead of getting into trafficking. It gives them something to focus on and look forward to.
What about the worst thing?
Alice: The worst thing was the shooting. With a war going on between police and thieves and drug dealers, so many innocent people die in the crossfire. We have a friend who was shot in the leg when he was five years old because he was playing in the wrong place at the wrong time.
You guys started making music young. Was it always your ambition?
Alice: When we were young but we'd watch music videos by Beyonce and Rihanna, buy really cheap pirate CDs and learn the dances. But we were always considered the outsiders growing up, because we have always dressed a bit differently to the other girls, so they called us weirdos. But later on, we learnt how to rhyme and sing.
All time favourite musician?
Alice: Mariana, you say me yeah? And I'll pick you back! No, our favourites are Ciara, Chris Brown and Beyonce.
Mariana: I love Justin Timberlake for his body.
Jennifer: I like Drake.
Do you have style icons?
Jennifer: We're not into fashion in the sense that we'll go to a website and see the new collections, but we believe we have our own style. We like to be unique.
Alice: Jennifer likes Ciara, Mariana likes Beyonce, and I like Nicki Minaj. We take inspiration from them.
What do you guys think of the new Nicki Minaj video?
Alice: We love her. She's an idol.
You rap in Portuguese. What are you rhyming about?
Alice: We mostly rap about our own lives, our everyday reality and what we're been through - so going out and having fun but also protest songs about societal issues within Brazil. It's all based on our experiences.
What about feminism?
Mariana: Yeah, we're definitely feminists in the sense that we know what women go through and we have a song called Warrior which is about the fact that we think every woman is a warrior, because we know what they go through. It's not easy!
Yeah! It's tough being a girl! What's the best thing about being young today?
Alice: Mariana, you can talk about sex because you have more experience! [all laughing]
Jennifer: It's really fun to be young; to go out and dance and music is really good nowadays.
Alice: Mariana has been in a relationship for two years now so she doesn't know much about partying…
Alice: Jennifer has a boyfriend but he's more of a secret…
Does he know that he's a secret?
Alice: He thinks it's official!
Jennifer: I'm a bad girl...
What's the best party you've ever been to?
Alice: We don't really go to parties, we go on nights out… we like to go out to places that play hip-hop and are always full of cute boys. But Mariana doesn't come out because she has to be with her boyfriend so sometimes she gets jealous. So it's just me and Jennifer. We party hard.
What's your favourite dance routine?
Jennifer: Do you know the video for Flowers by Beyonce and Loyal by Chris Brown? Those dances.
Alice: I like the dancing in Anaconda, Nicki Minaj!
Do you dance like that in clubs?
Alice: We love dancing. We dance at shows, in clubs - we're always doing full dance routines.
Jennifer: And even when we get dressed to go out we're always dancing while we do our make-up.
And finally… who is the most attractive man in the world?
[all shout over each other hysterically]
Jennifer: Chris Brown!
Mariana: Justin Timberlake!
How about the three of them combined, as one person?
All: Oh my god!!
Alice: Mariana's boyfriend is going to be very sad about this.
Text Francesca Dunn
Photography Francesca Jane Allen