Welcome to the first in a series of musical explorations into the sounds from the global underground sneaking their way mainstream. Sometimes referred to as 'Global Ghettotech' or 'Po-Co House', these sounds usually originate in the poorest areas of the poorest cities and fuse traditional sounds with modern influences to create club music that captures the energy of the local party scene. Over the next few months we will look at some of these styles and the hype around them that has attracted the attention of DJs and media types alike.
First stop, the melting pot that is Brazil. Most of us are down with Brazilian music already, go to any major city and you can find a Samba class most nights of the week. Bossa Nova has been popular since "The Girl From Ipanema" walked by back in 1962 and the fact that Nouvelle Vague can shift huge amounts of the stuff nearly 50 years later is testament to the genre's appeal. Tropicalia too is still popular, think of Austin Power's opening credits in swinging London for a reminder. The influence of these styles is heard everywhere in club music, from Drum and Bass to house and as Mr Iljan says, now Grime too.
Nowadays some more contemporary styles are finding their way into the crates and hard drives of DJs around the world and they ain't being watered down or merely sampled either. Baile Funk was the first true Global Ghettotech phenomenon and after a few years of growing popularity, Baile or Carioca Funk went truly mainstream last year with Bonde De Role achieving massive European success. The sound is considered the illegitimate child of Miami Bass and was fostered in the mid eighties when local DJs like DJ Marlboro dropped 2 Live Crew and Africa Bambatta in the Favela parties and the crowds went nuts. The seeds were sewn and over the next few years Baile Funk emerged cutting up samples and pairing them with rhymes about life in the favelas, often about drugs, nearly always about sex. Never glorifying the former but always the latter. As you may have guessed, there ain't much money in the favelas, so Baile Funk was and still is usually made on ancient cracked copies of Acid that would be shared around the Favelas, giving it that lo-fi, raw sound. They still manage to capture the energy of the parties (Bailes) though, where tales of girls getting pregnant just by dancing are not uncommon.
The sound was given a hefty boost onto the global dance floor when Diplo (who was mentored on all things Favela by Marlboro) used Deize Tigrona's baile funk track "Injeção" for MIA's Bucky Done Gun in 2005. He had already recorded a mixtape of Baile tracks titled Favela on Blast the year previous and went on to sign Bonde De Role to his Mad Decent label.
Probably more responsible then any for the globalisation of the sound though, is German journalist, DJ and record label boss Daniel Hacksmann who released a compilation in 2004 titled Rio Baile Funk Favela Booty Beats after hearing a mixtape a friend brought back from Rio. Not long after, he founded Man Recordings and helped Brazilian Funk big wigs like DJ Sandhrino, Sany Pitbull and Edu-K reach global audiences with his Baile Funk Masters series. He also hooked Brazilian MCs up with producers like Scottie B, Crookers and Jesse Rose for the Funk Mundial series, helping the scenes local stars reach worldwide audiences and earn a few quid on the way.
So the 'Funk' has gone truly global, what's next? Within the country, other sounds like like Axé and Forro are popular but both have been around for a while and stayed quite regional and they certainly lack the punch to cut it globally. As for the Funk, non-Brazilian artists like German MC Gringo and Japan's Tigarah are bringing their own twist to things so no doubt more people will adapt it to their local style and by the time I go to write next month's article I will be researching Konichi-Funk from Tokyo or how about some Baile Baile from Crumlin.
Lingo for a Gringo:
Baile = Party
Favela = slums in the hills around Rio.
Carioca = person who lives in a Favela
Bunda = ass
Popozuda = a girl with a big ass
Daquele Jeito = an expression meaning "that's the way you do it".