Who is MC Bin Laden?

Meet the explosive Brazilian sensation whose unique vision helped him conquer the Portuguese-speaking Internet. The U.S. is surely next in line.

It is no secret that foreign-language hip-hop has been more prominent than ever. These days, Future collaborates with French and Spanish-speaking rappers. “It G Ma”  – a Japanese/Korean rap song – was a huge hit in the US. Japanese rapper Kohh did a tour in the US. Yung Lean is a massively successful rap phenomenon, whose entire career would not even be possible a decade ago.

Jefferson Cristian dos Santos Lima AKA MC Bin Laden is the latest international artist on the rise. He may have bugged out ying-yang hair, trimmed eyebrows that would make Riff Raff envy and a strange demeanor in his music videos, but the kid deserves some respect. Born in an impoverished family, he got his start in a working-class neighborhood of São Paulo. He used to make music under the alias MC Jeeh 2K, but he changed it when his song “Bin Laden Não Morreu” became a hit at parties in the favelas of São Paulo. The only thing that is truly ‘explosive’ about him is his infectious energy. In an interview with Thump, he said “All the clubs I played in Europe were packed. And people couldn’t stop jumping and singing. I think they are not used to seeing a muleque doido (“crazyass kid”) like me.”

Calling MC Bin Laden’s music hip-hop is quite a stretch. More formally, the music he makes is known in Brazil as funk ostentação. Funk ostentação has distant roots in Miami Bass dance music, which featured a rapper laying down some simple rhymes about clubbing lifestyle. In Brazil it was influenced by some local trends and movements and evolved into ostentação. Bin Laden’s beats are characterized by cold sparseness and aggression, often featuring strange sounds like Facebook message notifications and engines of accelerating motorcycles. He confronts these strange tracks with venomous energy, screaming fast flows over these beats, like a way more exotic Meek Mill.

Unlike Meek Mill though, Bin Laden has not yet taken any major L’s in his career. Well, except for having to cancel his New York shows at MOMA PS1 and GHE2OG0TH1K because the US embassy would not give him a visa. He suspects that it had to do with his name because he submitted all the required documents and even passed a drug test. However, he is still doing well for himself. He is rumored to be working with Diplo, so we will probably hear from him sometime soon.


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