Baile Funk, previously known as Funk Carioca, was originally a Brazilian adaptation of Miami Bass and Freestyle music. Birthed in the slums of Rio in the 1980’s, Funk Carioca told the stories of daily struggle for the poor and working class people of Brazil.
Rio’s Carioca Funk spread during the mid-90s, before permeating São Paulo-proper, evolving it’s dialogue to include the darker and all-too-real sides of poverty that many richer and whiter consitueints didn’t want to hear. From poverty, drugs, black pride, sex, crime, violence and social injustice, Baile Funk unapologetically became the amplifier for the favelas of Brazil.
In the process, many poverty stricken Brazilians found an outlet, not only for their social perspectives but also as an opportunity to make money.
Currently, on any given weekend, countless Funks will happen throughout the city’s favelas. Giant sound systems in moving cars blast Brazilian Funk artists throughout the hoods, causing hundreds of young people to the congregate in the streets, dancing until dawn.
Facebook pages and WhatsApp groups spread the word lightning fast about where the next Baile Funk will be, allowing for quick turn around and little financial overhead, employing its own youth as party promoters, DJs, rappers, producers and dancers.
This past December the new mayor of Brazil, João Doria, announced a complete shut down of Baile Funk in São Paulo along with the over 700 massive street parties that occur throughout the city on a weekly basis.
In an interview with i-D VICE, Vincent Rosenblatt says, “Funk is still heavily prohibited by the police in São Paulo, who associate the parties (pancadões) and rolezinhos (shopping mall based flash mobs) with criminal activity and civic unrest. Nonetheless, the funk plays on, with hundreds of parties each month, including fluxos (flow), energetic late night street parties where the tunes are played from car speakers rather than a more traditional sound system. This isn’t just some local scene confined to the few; MC Guimê has racked up over two hundred million YouTube views, while the scene’s current star, the utterly awesome MC Bin Laden is fast becoming a household name.”
Brazil’s slums already face an adverse disadvantage when dealing with the police. Often unregulated, the police are known to resort to extreme violence when operating in the favelas. Funks have beome an excuse to invade favela streets, with police dissipating parties with rubber bullets and tear gas.
VICELAND explored the bloody consequences to policing Funk last year in episode 2, Season 1 on Noisey.
Regardless of the policing in Favelas, Baile Funk refuse to be silenced.
With a majority of the communities paid concerts and appearances coming from wealthy class laying on the outskirts of Brazil, the heartbeat of Funk was captured, much like hip-hop, by those who love it but never live it. Couple that with the global influence stemming from the genre being disseminated by international artist like Diplo and M.I.A. in the mid 00s, like it or not Baile Funk is here to stay.
Check out this telling documentary by Boiler Room, where they visit São Paulo to investigate today’s current funk artist and creators, to dig deeper into the culture’s art form and evolution.