Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Britney's bit Kev Federline does funk!

Sadly, it is true. The lovely Daniel Haaksman (compiler of Favela Booty Beats and MD of Man Recordings) alerted me of the injustice. It's not exactly a funk track; more crunk pop but Kev reckons it is. HELP!

Check the link and tell me how much you love/hate it...


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Favela Funk article in RWD Magazine

Hey peeps,

A version of my article below is out now in the Jan/Feb issue of wicked, free music mag RWD. You can pick RWD up in most UK record stores. x

The Baile Funk Phenomenon
Words by Elle J Small

Think ‘City of God’. Think grime meets electro meets Miami bass. Just don’t think James Brown. Rio funk is the soundtrack to Brazil’s favelas (ghettos) and it’s butting its bass into Britain.

Like grime in the UK, reggaeton in Puerto Rico and crunk in the US, funk (or ‘baile funk’, ‘carioca funk’ or ‘rio funk’ as it’s also known) was born and bred in the ghetto. But if you think Brixton, Harlseden and Hackney are hardcore, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

While tourists and rich Brazilians wine and dine in restaurants overlooking the white sands of Ipanema and Copacabana beach, every Friday and Saturday night there are countless baile funks (funk balls) getting ready to kick off in any one of Rio’s [estimated] 800 favelas (ghettos). Seen ‘City of God’? Well, you have it firsthand, that film is no exaggeration.

There is a constant war between rival commands (each favela is under a command, run by drug Lords- the main three are CV: ‘Comando Vermelho’, ADA: ‘Amigos dos Amigos’ and TC: ‘Terceiro Comando’) and between individual gangs -or ‘factions’- and the police. Members of the drug factions patrol entrances and various checkpoints in the favelas, 24/7. On a sunny afternoon in Rio, I saw several 17 year-olds with AK rifles strapped across their chests. At night a plastic bag full of coke is their other necessary accessory. Glamorous? Only if you find witnessing innocent members of the favelas with missing limbs as a result of crossfire attractive.

It ain’t all blood and tears though. Yes, 36,000 people died by gunfire in Brazil in 2004 and, yes, poverty in the favelas (mainly populated by black Brazilains) is rife, with drug dealing and prostitution often being the only option of making proper money. There are no giros in favelas. However, there is a strong and warm sense of community. The atmosphere buzzes with good vibes and outside the aforementioned wars, there is hardly any crime (the drug Lords, some of whom even provide doctors for their people, see to that). Favela citizens even leave their front doors wide open while, at night, young and old buss serious moves to samba, hip hop or funk.

The bailes (balls) are free parties thrown by the drug faction leaders, who pay the funk (pronounced ‘funk-ee’) DJs and MCs to perform. Why? Everyone knows if you want coke or weed, you go to a baile (pronounced ‘bal-ee’). However, the majority of the baile funk ravers are tea-total youts looking for a heavy, free night out. As for artist/ DJ beef? It just doesn’t happen. These people have more important shit to focus on.

Entering a baile funk as a gringo (foreigner) for the first time can be pretty daunting- especially if your luminous blonde hair makes you look like an albino rabbit on stilts. If, however, you ignore the guns at the entrance and the occasional fucked-up cokehead asking for “um beijo” (a kiss) and concentrate on the fanny-thrusting, head-nodding, speaker-smashing music and the wicked vibe, it’s all good. Turn the volume down and you could be at a heavy-duty grime rave…minus the screwfaces.

The music itself derives from Miami bass and some say its roots also lie in samba. Sampling is rife and MCs chat about shit like arse-fucking and guns over a mad mix of sounds reminiscent of hardcore, electro and even old skool garage.

DJ Marlboro is responsible for the first ever, official Rio funk release (in 1989), has a daily radio show on a commercial station and is recognised as the spearhead of the scene, internationally. However, like any form of underground music, there are countless young bloods (from the 800-odd favelas) ready to steal that crown. DJ Sandrinho is one of the main contenders. A bad-ass producer, he has twisted up funk’s sparse beats and is taking the music to a different level. Sandrinho is also transporting his unique style of DJing (CD decks and live beats via an MPC) out of the favelas and into Rio’s rich, downtown clubs. Of course he’s not the only one moving things forwards; DJs Dennis, Sany Pitbull and Sonny are also spreading the love outside the ghettoes; as are MCs Frank, Mr Catra, female MC Xana and group Bonde do Tigrão. There are hundreds of baile funk DJs, MCs and singers though, so new and exciting talent -as with grime- is always emerging.

Piracy –again, as with grime- is standard in the ghettos. Playing for several hours (sometimes over seven) in a baile and getting paid a tiny amount by drug Lords is often the only way DJs/producers (every producer has to DJ to survive) make money. The answer is in making money outside the favelas.

Can funk cross the Atlantic to Europe and beyond? It already is. America’s Diplo fell in love with the music after a chance listening to a mixtape in Argentina and has paid Brazil, in particular Rio- funk’s birth city, frequent visits ever since. And it was funk that inspired M.I.A.’s ‘Bucky Done Gone’ track- the first single released off her album, produced by boyfriend, Diplo. German music journalist and DJ, Daniel Haaksman has also caught the bug and is responsible for compiling the Essay Recordings release, ‘Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats’. In the UK, Sao Paulo-bred, London-based DJ/production duo Tetine are repping the scene, combing funk beats with electro in their sets, while DJ Deekline mixes up baile funk at his monthly Bounce! night at Bar Rumba, alongside Cutlass Supreme and DJ Disco D (50 Cent’s producer ‘The Ski Mask Way’). With grime artists crossing genres and teaming up with different beat-makers and MCs, the timing for Rio funk to kiss the UK couldn’t be better.

Introduction to Rio’s Funk:

Check out these three banging booty-shakers…
Ø ‘Slum Dunk presents Funk Carioca’ Mixed by Tetine (Mr Bongo)
Ø ‘Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats’ (Essay)
Ø ‘Favela On Blast: Rio Baile Funk 04’ Mixed by Diplo (Big Dada)

And if you can speak Portuguese, Brazil’s language, read this book…
Ø ‘Big Beats- A History of Funk’ by Silvio Essinger (Editora Record)

Funk meets Grime meets Miami Bass:
The dance moves, crowd and scenes are ridiculously similar, but what about the beats? RWD flew to Rio, pegged it around London and got on the blower to ask the ‘sperts…


UK UNDERGROUND PRODUCER: MIZZ BEATS“I’m really feeling this. I can definitely see some similarities between funk and grime- mainly the simple yet effective production techniques. The samples they use are crazy and the beats are like Miami bass. After listening to DJ Sandrinho’s funk mixtape, I can hear MIA got her sound from funk. I wanna check Brazil out!”

UK GRIME DJ: CHEEKY“This is nuts! After seeing an underground baile funk DVD, I’m shocked. If you turn the music off, you could be at an Eski dance! The beats are a lot slower than grime, but you could mash it up in a set. I’d liked to hear some of the MCs from each scene mix it up with producers from each scene. I want to check funk out at a rave.”

ECLECTIC US DJ/PRODUCER: DIPLO“People outside of brazil are getting into funk. I reckon in about ten years grime can fuck with funk properly. Sadly, with grime/ hip hop many people are just about fame and money. Plus UK labels infiltrated grime, fucked everybody and sucked the people up before the scene made an agenda and the culture became properly tight.”

“I already play Rio funk- mainly DJ Marlboro’s beats, but it’s hard to get hold of funk music. I DJ ghetto tech, Miami bass, breakbeat, grime, jungle and my own beats. Funk is really raw so the UK crowd can definitely relate to it. I want to see more DJs and MCs hooking up like they did back in the day. Bring back the booty shaking!”


"I’ve been dancing around to DJ Wonder’s remix of Lady Sovereign’s ‘Little Bit Of Shhh!’ and praying with candomblé [Brazilian religion with African and catholic parts, where people play percussion, sing and speak in the name of the dead and the Gods]. The female MCs and producers in grime sound sexy but also political to me.”

BAILE FUNK PRODUCER/DJ: SANDRINHO“I have been listening to the Mizz Beats remix of Lady Sovereign’s ‘Hoodie’ and I’m really feeling it. I have mixed it with some berimbau (the instrument used in the Brazilian martial art capoeira) cuts and have been playing it in my home favela, do Borel. I will be emailing the UK to ask if they’re ready for the Brazilian mix!”

"I like the simple cuts from these guys. The producer Terror Danjah sounds ‘muito legal’ [very cool]. I could play his beats, mixed up with some funk, at the Baile do Galo, where I am resident, in favela Cantagalo. [Favela Cantagalo translates as ‘Singing Cock Ghetto’ and is where RWD got jiggy at a mental baile funk rave].”

"I am already aware of grime and like it. To me, it sounds similar to baile funk from the early 80s. I think there is link all over the world with this same strong feeling. Human rights and desires are melted into celebration through music in so many communities. In Rio 2million people come to our baile funk parties in a good month."

Words by Elle J Small