Massimo Pericolo: "What's the point of rap if you don't spit shit?"

Massimo Pericolo: “What's the point of rap if you don't spit shit?”

Massimo Pericolo's rap, since its inception, has been synonymous with unfiltered language. What weight does freedom of expression have in your music today?

It is central and should be central to everyone.

However, we are risking that that freedom will be subjected to restrictions from which there is no turning back. Let's start from an assumption: rap is a genre of music that does not and cannot have a filter compared to other art forms. Rap is like a certain cinema. Censorship is everywhere, but it shouldn't be allowed to enter rap. Yet it is doing so, on multiple levels. The first passes through the desire to “please everyone”: the desire to assert oneself, which I also had, pushes towards certain languages ​​over others. And this is an aspect that can become obsessive. But now there is something that goes further, which is even more dangerous: “don't displease anyone”. Already “pleasing everyone” is unhealthy, “not displeasing” is the next step. It doesn't just mean limiting yourself, but canceling yourself.

How do you stop it?

Claiming the impossibility of placing limitations on language. It is the gist of the speech that counts, not the form in which it is pronounced. Let me explain: if to get to the heart of a topic I am prevented from using a certain word, perhaps “incorrect”, or even I force myself not to use it, thus practicing self-censorship, that speech is very likely not to be understood as I wish.

In 2023 you released the album Things change in a difficult period, in which, on the emotional wave of Giulia Cecchettin's terrible femicide, politicians called for the censorship of rap songs considered “violent and non-educational”. A recurring theme.

It is a long and complicated discussion about which questions should be asked of sociologists and psychiatrists rather than artists.

I believe there is an underlying problem. Asking those who make music to be an “educator” is convenient, it hides family, social and cultural gaps. We search at all costs for a culprit, but there are many aspects that make up our society. The person who must offer children the means and filters to understand a song certainly cannot be the artist. And then the truth is that, for economic reasons, there are no rules. The platforms and social networks are not managed by the artists, we are not the ones who make a selection, who decide whether a minor can listen to a certain song or not. There is a lack of rules, but those who should work to propose them do not create them for their own gain. Rap lyrics don't breed monsters. It is suffering that creates them.

Also at the release of Le cose cambia you were also asked to explain a line contained in the track Massimo Pericolo in which you underline not to dress like trans people. That song is very impactful. Bomber.

In the track I say that I don't use those clothes to attract attention. There are those who do it even though they are not trans. And I believe it is more discriminatory and unfair to speculate on a way of dressing, following a trend out of interest and exploiting it, rather than saying “I don't do that”. Especially in the last songs I made, I was very careful with the use of words.

How were these first years of Massimo Pericolo's life?

The beginning of my career coincided with what I thought was the end of my life. Success literally saved me from oblivion. Then I had my moment of hype, they all had big plans, but the black hole of the pandemic arrived, for me and for everyone. Over time, however, I began to understand that my life had changed, that I was experiencing something different. I often repeat this to myself even today when I fall into some moments of depression.

Before your success, did you feel condemned?

It is too convenient to think of being condemned to a certain life if you are born into a certain family and social context. It is undeniable that these aspects have a heavy impact, but I believe that it is essential, in any case, to focus on what you do well and try to follow a discipline. I try to do it. I practice martial arts and I try to have, more and more, a vision of existence linked to a philosophy in which personal growth is cultivated on every front, mental and physical. And all of this delivers results.

The target?

Feel better.

“What's the point of rapping if you don't spit shit?” Is this still the case for you?

That sentence, when I wrote it, was linked to everything I thought. Not just rap. Before, I couldn't stand those who were better off than me. A human feeling, I would say. I was in the phase: “I don't respect you if you're not like me”. Stupid reasoning. Now, however, I see it more linked to rap and nothing else. My music is this: I spit shit. And this doesn't mean that I will always talk about misery, it simply means that my songs, in some way, will always have a dimension of suffering. For me there is no revenge without suffering.

As you have said several times, you were in prison before turning rapping into a job. Also in light of this, what does freedom mean to you today?

Freedom is everything, but it is also a double-edged sword. Today we choose driven above all by the moods and emotions we feel and, when this mechanism is taken to excess, then perhaps it is really better that someone chooses for us. When you act governed and blinded only by impulses, you are not truly free. We are just slaves to something we don't control. For me, at the center of everything is the management of freedom, which must follow values ​​and objectives. Freedom without awareness can be worse than imprisonment.

This interview is taken, courtesy of the publisher Mondadori, from the book “Explicit texts – New styles of censorship”, edited by Paola Zukar and Claudio Cabona, in bookshops and online stores from 14 May. It also contains interviews with Marracash, Fabri Fibra, Gué, Madame, Baby Gang, Bello Figo, Jorit, Cecilia Sala, Filippo Giardina, Gian Gaetano Bellavia, Riko De Ville, Milena Gabanelli, Zerocalcare, Don Claudio Burgio, Homyatol, Gherardo Colombo and Emory Douglas.