Brazilian baile funk, or funk carioca (funk from Rio de Janeiro), sprung up in the city’s favelas during the 80s.
Taking its cue from Miami bass and African-American funk, early incarnations comprised of chopped-up freestyle samples and drum machine loops (notably Battery Brain’s 1988 8 Volt Mix), which often featured rapping or singing. A handful of artists made their own electronic drum-powered compositions, including DJ Grandmaster Raphael and his trailblazing Equipe Super Quente LP of 1989.
In the 90s, the tamborzão beat – a combination of capoeira, maculelê and candomblé rhythms and drumming – was created by DJ Luciano Oliveira, and the Afro-Brazilian sound came into its own, eventually morphing into the mainstream phenomenon it is today. As a powerful tool for expression, funkeiros including MC Cidinho used their platforms to address vital issues like poverty and racial injustice. “If there is such thing as a funk carioca essence, it is encapsulated in Cidinho’s voice,” offers baile funk historian Carlos Palombini. “He stands to the genre as James Brown to African-American funk”.
Baile funk, which originated at bailes funk or soundsystem parties in Rio’s favelas, faced criminalisation from the police and authorities throughout the 90s and 00s, but in 2009 was given legal protection as a ‘musical and cultural movement of popular character.’ “The present decade may be described by diversification, hybridization, YouTube monetisation, mainstreaming and internationalisation,” notes Palombini, who has been documenting funk carioca on his site Proibidão.org since 2011.
Baile funk now consists of a variety of sub-genres that include the slowed-down rasteirinha, sexually-charged putaria (which was championed by Venus X and Asmara on their Putaria Maxima mixtape earlier this year) funk ostentação, and the divisive proibidão. Elsewhere, artists like trans singer/rapper Linn da Quebrada and São Paulo DJ and producer BADSISTA aka Rafaela Andrade (who helped to steer da Quebrada’s must-hear 2017 album Pajubá) are giving a vital voice to the country’s LGBT+ communities facing the threat of increased violence and oppression following the victory of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro in October’s Brazilian presidential election.
Andrade is a founding member of São Paulo collective Bandida, who champions female producers, graffiti artists, photographers and artists and released her eponymous debut EP in 2016 on São Paulo imprint Funk Na Caixa. The following year she contributed to Enchufada Na Zona; the club music compilation curated by Buraka Som Sistema’s Branko, while collaborating with Marginal Men on this remix of a song by legendary samba star Elza Soares. Andrade made her UK live debut at London’s erstwhile Alibi club this year and her DJ bookings continue to gather pace. Here, she dives into the baile funk canon to unearth “a lot of emotional memories” in the form of her top ten favourite tracks.
MC Romantico – As Novinhas Tão Sensacional
“I remember hearing this for the first time in an ex-girlfriend’s neighbourhood. The end of the year was coming… it was sunny, hot and everybody was out on the streets listening to music and drinking beer. This track kick-started the funk sub style called rasteirinha, which is made at 95 BPM and therefore different from a lot of other baile funk tracks, which are around 130 BPM. It was a huge success and was even used in a commercial for McDonalds, which I particularly hated, but you know… money for us.”
Beat do 50 Cent – MC GW, MC Murilo MT e MC Vini VK (DJ Bruninho Beat)
“This is an example of why I love funk. Funk artists can reinvent everything in their own way and make it good. Gueto heads are more powerful than everything. When you give them some structure, a lot of crazy, great things can happen.”