Roma rap: Meet Connect-RComments
Connect-R is the latest sensation to come out of the Romanian Hip-Hop scene. His latest single “Still” is a smash hit, number one in the Romanian charts Singer-songwriter, dancer, actor, and producer, Connect-R is eclectic, mixing rap, hip-hop, soul, R’n‘B and reggae.
He told euronews “My name is my aim; connecting people, music, states of mind; this idea was my starting point. I never studied music, but I play the piano and sing with no formal training, and it’s effortless. Undoubtedly it’s something I was born with, and that’s a big advantage I think. But I grew up with a completely different kind of music around me; Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, lots of rock and roll, blues, and jazz. I think that what I’m doing now is the result of a fusion, between the basic natural talent of my nation and the musical education my father gave me.”
His fusion is very commercial, and he is not ashamed of that. It is part of his masterplan.
But it does not stop him getting a message across, like when “Burning Love” was recently named Romania’s Song of the Year.
On the awards night Connect-R said it loud; he’s a gypsy, and he’s proud!
“It needed bravery, because in Romania there’s a lot of prejudice against us. I said to myself, ‘this is the ideal moment to say that a gypsy who doesn’t conform to the stereotype exists, too’.
I wanted to show the world that it makes no sense to use the word ‘gypsy’ as an insult, and to show to people like me that we can do things differently.”
“I hit this wall of predjudice so often,” he says. “ I look at YouTube and I see thousands of comments, maybe millions, like, ‘Yes, it’s a good song, he sings well, the words are good, the message is good, he dances well…pity he’s a gypsy’. Well, I AM a gypsy.”
A mechanic before breaking into music, Connect-R is no dupe when it comes to talking about other members of his community. When asked about the controversy surrounding France’s expulsion of illegal Roma he expresses his disgust, not with the French attitude but with the attitude of the deportees.
“I’ve kept very close to my roots, and I still do a little, but only a little, nowadays when I compare the past to what’s happening now. Before the Roma had lots of different activities in all the arts, in poetry, but today’s gypsies have changed. It’s painful, very painful to see. They stay in the suburbs of the big European cities and make us ashamed of them. A few years ago Sarkozy supported Romania’s entry into the EU, so I don’t think what he’s doing now is premeditated. At the risk of disappointing my fellows I support what he’s doing, it’s an excellent initiative.”
The only answer to today’s problems, insists
Connect-R, is education. Either that, or music:
“There’s a legend that says God handed out everyone’s careers, craftsmen, painters and decorators, doctors and engineers – he shared out everything. The last one in the queue was the gypsy, with feathers in his hair, fresh out of the henhouse because as usual he’d been lazy, and he asked God ‘what are you giving me?’
God said ‘I’ve got nothing left, you got here too late!’ So the gypsy started to walk away, but as God is good he called him back saying, ‘hang on a second I’ve got something for you’, and he gave him a violin. It should be like a law. Music is one of our greatest qualities, and we should work at it.”