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Sabotage 50: Who’s the rapper known as the Brazilian Tupac?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Mauro Mateus dos Santos, better known as Sabotage, was a Brazilian rapper, songwriter, and actor. Born on April 3rd, 1973, in the southern zone of São Paulo, he was raised in the Favela do Canão, where he had his first job as a lookout in drug trafficking at the age of 8.

Still young, he lost his mother and siblings. This violent environment and the absence of a family foundation caused him to deviate from the natural academic path, leading him to only complete the fifth grade as an adult.

While beloved in the Favela do Canão, he terrorized the Vila da Paz, two neighborhoods south of the city. In an interview for the newspaper Estado de S. Paulo in 2002, he said, “I caused trouble for the people here in the area [Vila da Paz]. I was a terrorist, I walked around armed, and nobody came near me.”

In another account in the author’s biography, A Good Place: The Biography of Mauro Mateus dos Santos – Sabotage by Toni C., friends said that when they played soccer, Maurinho (One of Sabotage’s nicknames as a child) often showed up armed to intimidate, fired shots at the ball to disrupt the game, and stood aside laughing. One of his memorable encounters with the police was at the age of 15 when he had his upper teeth knocked out cold by police assault.

It was at the back doors of the clubs where Mauro transformed into Sabotage. Since he was young, he carried a notebook where he composed songs. Between 1988 and 1989, he enrolled in a rap course, and at the same time was embraced by the rappers Rapin Hood and Sandrão from the RZO Group, who invited Sabotage to perform at their concerts. Thanks to that opportunity, he began to stand out in the music scene. His first and only studio album was released in 2000, titled O Rap é Compromisso, translated as Rap is Commitment.

His unique project exploded and captured the public’s attention, proving that Sabotage understood very well about hip-hop. Beyond music, Mauro had two cinematic experiences, the first in O Invasor by Beto Brant, where he participated in the soundtrack and portrayed himself, and Carandiru by Hector Babenco (2003), bringing the character Fuinha to life. Sabotage brought life and experience to this second production, with characters and real representations of the reality of Brazilian prisons.

First Sabotage’s album “Rap is Commitment” on Spotify

Unfortunately, at the peak of his career, in January 2003, the rapper was targeted in a shooting on Professor Abraão de Morais Avenue, in the Saúde neighborhood of São Paulo. Speculation about the cause of his death suggests it was revenge for an old drug trafficking dispute. The accused of the crime, Sirlei Menezes da Silva, was arrested seven years after the incident.


At 16 years old at the Tatuapé’s juvenile detention center (Febem), Sabotage listened to Racionais MCs, GOG, Naldinho, Ataliba, and Afirma on the radio. Mano Brown, one of Racionais MCs’ members, was surprised by the references he knew in the Favela do Boqueirão (neighborhood in Praia Grande, São Paulo). “He listened to music that I didn’t listen to, music for the wealthy, didn’t waste time, listened to poetry“, praised the rapper.

Sabotage mentioned that when analyzing and appreciating international music, he felt like he was recycling. He utilized English song metrics and fitted Portuguese words into it to create a new song. 

The basis for the construction of “Um Bom Lugar” (A Good Place) was the song “Affirmative Action” by Nas featuring AZ, Foxy Brown, and Cormega, from the group The Firm.

In “Incentivando o som”, the rapper used “King Toast Queen” by Wu-Tang Clan. In “Brooklyn”, Sabotage was inspired by the group Naughty by Nature.

To maintain the sound and stay close to English words, “Dama Tereza” used “The Way I Am” by Eminem as a reference, wherein a new version, phrases were reconstructed, and words were cut in half in order to keep the sonority.

Comparison with tupac

Sabotage and Tupac Shakur, also known as 2Pac, share similarities in their careers and musical styles, leading some people to refer to Sabotage as the “Brazilian Tupac”.

With impactful and socially conscious lyrics addressing social, political, and personal issues, both used music as a tool to express opinions on inequality, urban violence, and injustice. The honesty of the artists in each composition captivated the fans who followed them. Their stage presence and deep connection with the audience also distinguished them in their live performances.

The rappers continue to have memorable legacies even after their deaths, which leads many to compare them. Additionally, many people draw parallels between the deaths of both artists. Tupac, like Sabotage, was shot and killed due to rivalry.

While the comparison is justifiable since both were great artists who influenced the hip-hop scene in their respective countries, the notion that one can be another occasionally diminishes the history of the Brazilian rapper. Sabotage drew inspiration from major international artists, but his compositions were unique and incomparable, shedding light on his own experiences.

It’s important to respect the history and influence of each artist without linking them in a way that diminishes their individuality and work. 


To honor the legacy of the legendary Sabotage, the artist’s family joined forces with many national rappers and producers to make the “Sabotage 50” project happen, which celebrates the singer’s fiftieth birthday.

Developed by Zegon and Tejo Damasceno, producers and friends of Sabotage, the project features nine reinterpretations of the rapper’s greatest hits. Special collaborations from iconic artists of Brazilian rap such as Djonga, Kamau, VANDAL, Yago Oproprio, Don L, Ricon Sapiência, BK’, Filipe Ret, Sant, N.I.N.A, Luedji Luna, and Bivolt added new verses to Sabotage’s compositions.

Posthumous album of Sabotage on Spotify

To conclude the celebrations, in addition to the musical production, the publication of a book in August will complement the festivities. In November, there will be an exhibition about Sabotage’s journey, and in 2025, a movie inspired by the rapper’s story will be released.


The historical legacy of Sabotage has been crossing through time and serving as a reference for the consolidation of rap in Brazil day by day. His compositions, faithful to the reality and experience of being a young peripheral and Brazilian, are an inspiration for new rappers of this generation.

The proof of this is the collaboration of new mainstream artists in hip-hop on his commemorative album. His story continues to resonate, always affirming his main message: rap is commitment.


The article above was edited by Manu Minguini.

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Caroline Magalhães

Casper Libero '26

Journalism student at Cásper Líbero & Copywriter.