Words by:
Photography: José Dutra

In October 2018, an exhilarating new sound infiltrated Spotify’s top ten most streamed songs in Brazil.

Rising MCs L da Vinte and Gury’s Parado no Bailão was a regional twist on baile funk; no, it didn’t emit the same heat or intensity of Rio de Janeiro’s typical 150 bpm take on the genre, nor the tougher, more industrial stylings of São Paulo’s. Instead, this iteration was slower, hypnotic, with sparse production informed by US drill and trap. Its name? Funk mineiro.

Belo Horizonte is over 250 miles north of Rio de Janeiro, the birthplace of baile funk (or funk carioca). Brazil’s first planned city, Belo Horizonte – or BH as it’s known – lies on the western slope of the Espinhaço Mountains and is famous for its mining and agricultural industries. It is also home to an exciting swell of DJs and producers tweaking the source code of baile funk. Like its parent genre, funk mineiro hails from some of the city’s most impoverished areas, but its unique sonic identity is shaped by its creators’ rebellious desire to sidestep the norm – and deconstruct the typically maximalist sound. Despite its hyper-local twist, championed by key artists like Anderson do Paraíso, Vitin do PC, Dudu Coupper and WS da Igrejinha, this stripped-down sound has resonated not just regionally, but throughout the rest of Brazil, and is increasingly making its way onto dancefloors and imprints (including Nyege Nyege Tapes) around the world. “Here in Belo Horizonte, we take our time to drop the beat,” smiles pioneering producer Vitin do PC, describing the unique sound. “You always have the impression that it’s about to drop, but it doesn’t.”

"There are nuances that you can only grasp by living here, by attending our bailes" - Dudu Coupper


To understand funk mineiro, you first need to understand baile funk. Born from the fusion of 70s soul parties (known as ‘bailes black’) and the electronic production techniques of 80s and 90s hip-hop, the genre was popularised in the predominantly Afro-Brazilian favelas of Rio in the late 90s. Not unrelatedly, it has weathered numerous attempts at unmerited criminalisation, violence, social prejudice and racism. For instance, in 2017, 22,000 people signed a proposal to classify funk as a “public health crime”. Funk artists are regularly targeted by government officials who use their art as a political weapon in order to establish a more conservative and prejudiced society. In 2019, this came to a tragic head when, during a routine raid of the Paraisópolis baile in São Paulo, police officers used bombs and gunfire to kettle people into alleys. This resulted in a crowd crush, with nine people trampled to death in the chaos.

Despite systematic attempts to silence funk, the musical movement has grown to become one of Brazil’s most popular genres. According to Spotify data, funk ranks among the platform’s top five most listened-to domestic genres, while a study by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reveals that funk is the most listened-to Brazilian musical style in other countries. The sound’s major hits usually came from two places: Rio or São Paulo. But this is rapidly changing with the rise of funk mineiro.

Belo Horizonte’s funk scene has roots dating back to the 1980s. However, up until the 2000s, the main parties were held in enclosed spaces like sports club courts, exemplified by venues like Baile da Vilarinho. During this era, the music was informed by – and leaned into – hip-hop and Miami bass, with MCs chronicling urban life, violence, struggle and the enduring hope for better days ahead.

Around 2015, though, the sound of funk in BH underwent a profound transformation. The bailes began to spill out onto the streets in the hillside favelas, where long lines of cars blasted funk beats on ear-shattering sound systems. It was here that an entirely new musicality blossomed: MCs shifted their focus to verses celebrating drugs, revelry and sex, while beatmakers explored more minimal and ambient arrangements, always imbued with generous reverb. One of the most ambitious tracks to come out of this shift was Sacanagem Toda Hora by DJs Swat and Vinicin do Concórdia, which sets sexually explicit lyrics against a melancholic string arrangement. Viciei Nessa Garota by MC Dennin followed suit, its mournful horns and unsettling, beatless atmosphere primed to soundtrack a haunted carnival.

My initial encounter with funk mineiro occurred towards the end of 2016. At that time, I was deeply immersed in funk, studying the scene both as a journalist and scholar. During this period, prominent funk artists – now revered as true masters of the genre – were at their creative peaks, with figures like MC Lan dominating the scene in São Paulo. However, after coming across mineiro tracks like DJ Swat’s MTG Visão do Crime, it became apparent that something new was unfolding. It seemed like producers from Belo Horizonte were reshaping funk in the same way microhouse flipped house music: offering a hypnagogic interpretation of traditional Brazilian funk by stripping down its rhythmic elements and replacing the power of the bass kick with mysterious atmospheres, distorted vocal samples and high-pitched sounds. This radical minimalism reverberated across various fronts of the funk scene, notably towards São Paulo’s rising bruxaria (or, ‘witchcraft’) scene; a similarly moody and seductive derivative. Funk mineiro also introduced a new style of dancing known as ‘passinho de BH’ or ‘passinho malado’ (local slang that roughly translates to ‘really cool’). It’s an evolution of Miami bass’ juke-like dance moves and is performed in groups with synchronised steps, with a focus on lower body movements and precise body spins.

Amid this musical evolution and cultural dynamism, the favelas of BH were undergoing intense repression. In 2017, Aglomerado da Serra (the largest favela in Belo Horizonte, and the site of the city’s main bailes) registered an average of one murder per month due to escalating gang violence. “It was a very difficult period, but also a period with a lot of music and hard work. Funk ended up being an escape,” says Vitin do PC, who still lives in the community. From that moment on, he explains, funk mineiro split into two: “Currently, there is the funk played at the favela parties, and the melodic funk played in nightclubs.”

"Making music for the favelas has always been my focus. I didn't want to follow the trend because my vibe was different. It isn't my identity" - Anderson Do Paraíso

DJ Anderson do Paraíso, a regular at the Aglomerado da Serra parties, first gained prominence in 2016 for the music he made in, and for, the ghetto. “Making music for the favelas has always been my focus,” explains Paraíso of his decision to steer away from more traditional funk structures. “I didn’t want to follow the trend because my vibe was different. If I followed that path, it wouldn’t be my originality. It isn’t my identity,” he firmly states.

Paraíso stands as one of the most influential and respected producers in funk mineiro. At 19, he began making music in his bedroom using the Sony Vegas video editor. Only later did he delve into music production software, such as Acid Pro, and try emulating the collagic beats of Rio DJs such as Gordinho from Lazer Digital. Gradually, he cultivated his own trademark ghostly sound, constructing tense atmospheres brimming with mystery and unease.

Paraíso’s unusual musical identity shines through in his forthcoming album, Queridão, released by Nyege Nyege Tapes (the label’s second venture into funk, following the acclaimed Pânico no Submundo by São Paulo’s DJ K). Paraíso’s unorthodox approach to funk underscores moments of silence to intentionally build cinematic suspense. His productions oscillate between sensuality and terror, never quite committing to either. These references don’t solely stem from funk, but extend to pagode (a modern take on traditional samba), rap, and more recently, drill. “I was interested in Pop Smoke and Dusty Locane because they also created a dark sound,” Paraíso explains.

DJ Vitin do PC shares similar influences. Before becoming DJs, he and his friend PH da Serra had a side hustle filling acquaintances’ USBs with underground funk tracks. From there, they decided to make their own music. “People came to us because we had a different musical taste and found some unusual songs,” he says. Early in his career, Vitin do PC was drawn to artists associated with the Furacão 2000 funk sound system. Yet his primary influences came from abroad. “I’ve always been a fan of gringos like Lil’ Wayne, 50 Cent and Eminem. Then came trap, with Migos, Gucci Mane… Nowadays, I’m more into trap and drill. That’s where I draw my references from.”

Fellow BH artist DJ Dudu Coupper, however, looks to homegrown talent. The producer was born in the tranquil city of Juiz de Fora, in the countryside in the state of Minas Gerais. While living there, he carved out his distinctive sound by producing MC Rodrigo do CN’s national hit No Pique BBB, which solidified his name in the funk industry. “Our songs often feature multiple beats within the same track to surprise the listener. I see this technique used extensively in São Paulo now,” says Coupper. “But there are nuances that you can only grasp by living here, by attending our bailes. When I moved to BH, that’s when I understood this blend; how the elements work, and how the music should sound.”

Then came a watershed moment. In October 2017, MC L da Vinte’s intoxicating track Parado no Bailão launched funk BH to fourth position on Brazil’s YouTube charts (a medium heavily used in the country), and tenth on Spotify. The song was produced by Delano, an MC, beatmaker and entrepreneur renowned for his 2015 hits Na Ponta Ela Fica and Devagarinho. Highly active behind the scenes, he founded the agency and label The Gang, which featured L da Vinte as one of its rising stars. The track introduced the Belo Horizonte beat to the rest of Brazil.

Following the boom of Parado no Bailão, other tracks from BH, possessing the same slow and melodic approach, started to go viral. Tracks such as Bala Love (MC Anjim), Evoque Prata (MC Menor SG), Baile no Morro (MC Tairon), and Redes Sociais (MC Luan da BS) have notched an average of 100 million views on YouTube. How did this happen? Kond, the São Paulo funk entrepreneur and founder of KondZilla – one of the biggest YouTube channels in the world with 66.9 million subscribers – has previously attributed the success of funk mineiro to a production mindset focused on the slow burn.


Dudu Coupper believes the popularity of funk mineiro is a testament to the innovative spirit of the favelas, where music becomes a way to challenge violence, repression and grim statistics on mortality. He also recognises funk’s great potential for enriching the global electronic music landscape. “There are many producers here who make music on their phones because they don’t have the resources to buy a good computer or studio monitors,” he asserts. “In funk, creativity surpasses equipment
or expertise.”

Vitin do PC agrees. “In the beginning, I had no technical knowledge. It wasn’t until recent years that I learned to harmonise all the elements,” he offers. “The strength of my music was creativity, the desire to experiment with new sounds, and make the name of my favela known across Brazil.”

To this day, the majority of BH funk parties feature the city’s artists as headliners, rather than bringing in luminaries from São Paulo or Rio. For locals, funk mineiro is a beacon of joy – and resilience – amid the adversity of the favelas. It’s within this complex landscape of sociopolitical oppression, marginalisation and poverty that producers like Paraíso, Vitin do PC and Coupper have spearheaded a sonic movement that more accurately reflects their identities as proud Belo Horizontinos. An identity that is inherently creative and buoyed by a fighting spirit and endless curiosity. “We delve deep,” smiles Coupper, “into our imagination.”