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interview: tombei!! brazilian singer karol conka sings about women’s empowerment

November 19, 2019

Karol Conka will be performing tonight at AFROPUNK x FEIRA PRETA’s event at Audio Club in Sao Paulo. Get tickets now!

This article was originally published on May 15, 2015 on

Karol Conka, a Brazilian singer from Curitiba (in the South of Brazil), is preparing her new album. The first song of the 10-track LP is available this year, the hit “Tombei” (translated in English as “Tumbled”) – which already has a music video, in Conka’s “empowered woman” style. Conka explains that the expression “Tombei” is “used for situations such as shocking moments and territory marking. It means topple, impact, ensure, break it down, rock it”. This track shows all the attitude that Karol carries in her style and lyrics.

By Ligia Hipólito, AFROPUNK Contributor
With support from Naiara Albuquerque
Photo Credit: Cintia Augusta


In her first album “Batuk Freak”, launched in 2013, Karol sings about opening minds, women empowerment, parties and her background. That’s right! This young 28-year-old woman talks about the African resistance and makes sure she includes the sound of African drums in her music.

On top of this, Karol also emphasises the feminine strength in society. “The fact that I was born a woman always makes me want to talk about it. I grew up with my grandmother talking about the empowerment of women. She always taught me that a woman must struggle to assert her power in society. The music for me is like a kind of resistance against many forms of prejudice that I have suffered in life for being black, female and poor. So, my lyrics are full of self-esteem messages and are also a way to say something and be heard.”

Is “Tombei” the “appetizer” of your new album?

Yes, “Tombei” is the entrance to the main course.

What does exactly the expression ‘Tombei’, which names your new single, mean?

“Tombei” is a term used for situations or shocking moments. Territory marking, knocking, impacting, ensuring, scaring, to rock it.

How did the partnership with the duo Tropkillaz for the beat of “tombei” happen?

I have known Zegon and Laudz for a long time and I love them. So, I received the invitation to be one of the Buum label artists, along with Tropkillaz. At first, we worked together in the first track of my new album, which will be released in 2015. The Tropkillaz hits are exciting and heavy and are very similar with my way.

How did the opportunity to record the first part of “Tombei” and also do a small music video in Paris, France, happen?


I was on my third European tour and I thought it would be cool registering the debut of my new single there, in Paris. So, I launched a sort of ‘making of’ video with the initial scenes of what I wanted to do. That way, I’ve stimulated the curiosity of my fans about the new music video. When I finally launched the music video, it was just ‘boom’.

In some lyrics, you talk about the strength of women. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

The fact that I was born a woman always makes me want to talk about it. I grew up with my grandmother talking about woman empowerment, she was beaten a lot by her husband. So, she always taught me that a woman must struggle to assert her power in society. The music for me is like a kind of resistance to many forms of prejudice that I have suffered in life being black, female and poor. My lyrics are loaded with self-esteem messages, it is also a way to say something and be heard.

Other strong elements in your music are the connection with nature and an open-minded atmosphere. Would you say that you are a spiritual person?

I like to connect with the universe in my way, I am moved by the energy, I like good things surrounding me.

Can music be used to speak on politics?

We can do a lot of things with the music. For me, making music is magical.



How is the Hip Hop acceptance by the new generation of women in Brazil?

I feel that today there is tolerance mixed with admiration.

What are the plans for Conka this year?

To continue challenging myself musically, release a new album and try to step on other people’s opinions.

You recorded the single “Até o Amanhecer” (Until Dawn’) in 2014 with the Brazilian singer Luiz Melodia. How did it happen?



This partnership arose from a gorgeous project called “Meet The Legends”, a partnership between Ray-Ban and Vice. They were bringing together new artists with the traditional Brazilian musicians. It was amazing. Although I am not looking for other partnerships, I’m still working and hoping for that.

What are you currently listening to?

I’m listening to a mix of things. I like to listen vinyls that I have bought in other countries… Lewlewal of Podor is one of them, Georgette, Ijahman … I like also hear Elliphant, Tulipa Ruiz, Rihanna, Alice Smith. 

You are an artist of the ‘copyleft’ generation, who encourages an easy access to your job by downloads and social media, website sharing. How do you see this? Do you plan any initiative in this direction?

I think music is made to be spread first. People need to listen to music and as easier the music reach people, the better. In 2013, I shared my first album on the Internet for free, people just needed to tweet or share it on Facebook, making easier my job to get known with posts and reposts.

Can you live well ($$$) as a Hip Hop artist in Brazil?

The reality of Brazilian economy is not very good in the independent art scene. I am part of the few hip hop artists who can live by the art itself. I believe this will change further ahead, I hope for that.

Before being a rapper, did you have other activities (jobs)?

I’ve worked as administrative assistant, clerk, secretary, telephone operator and I could not keep any job.

How was you initiation into Hip Hop?

I always  wrote my songs and at 16 I felt lost regarding the genre that I should follow in music. Then, I was walking in a store when I saw the Fugees album on a shelf, and was blown away with the face of Lauryn Hill in the cover along with two band members. I felt represented without having heard the music. When I heard the sound and learnt more about the artist, I became a fan. After that, I was sure that I would become a rapper because I felt a powerful force inside me.

Your lyrics are fully copyrighted. Do you think about partnering with other writers?

I wrote own my songs and I have so much fun with this,  but I would venture out with new partnerships certainly, they are welcome.

Why do you make a point of having African drums in your beats?

For me, it was obvious the idea of having African drums in my music because I am black and always loved it. I grew up listening afro brazilian drumming. Because of that, I wanted a piece of black culture in every beat. When I met with the disc beatmaker, I made clear my intention with the beats, underscoring being a granddaughter of woman from Bahia (the most african state in Brazil). Like a good beatmaker, he has rarities on vinyls and a vast knowledge that made me satisfied in the final result.



You also stands out for fashion style. Do you want to send a message with this?

I’ve always loved to dress in a different way, my own way. With time, I have learned more about fashion and discovered more about my own fashion. I like to dress accordingly to the weather, the mood, the situations… I just look at my clothes, see what catches my attention and what is alligned with my personality and mood. My message is to wear what makes you feel good.


In your opinion, what is the big difference between Hip Hop in Brazil and in other countries?

I prefer not comparing. I’d rather not name the differences of them.



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