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A Lesson On Brazilian Funk Music, Where It Came From And How People´s Views On It Changed Over Time

Funk music became a cultural patrimony on the history of Brazil. Since the “paredões” until the international awards, like the Grammy’s. This year, Cardi B, an American singer famous for hits like "W.A.P.", when performing, used a remix done by Pedro Sampaio with beats and elements of Brazilian funk. A musical movement that came from the periphery won the world. But, to understand that it’s necessary to understand the beginning.

The beginning of the movement

The beginning of everything was with the name of DJ Malboro. Coming from Rio de Janeiro and one of the greatest percussionists of the rhythm, he was present in songs like “Rap da Felicidade” and “Um Morto Muito Louco”. With foreign influences coming from rhythms like Miami Bass and American hip hop, it also added a bit of American electrofunk.

However, in the early 90s, a wave emerged within the style that included more Brazilian rhythms, with the inclusion of “tamborzão” and “atabaque”, which in theory, are determined as the basis of the songs.

The 90’s funk came to the public with a lot of messages and romance, something that everybody can see in the most famous compositions from the period. Two of the biggest names of the time and who still make history today is the duo Claudinho e Buchecha who inaugurated the "funk melody", a style of funk with a more romantic and engaging touch, seen in the backyard dances of the time.

In the 2000s, funk went through a major revolution marked by the emergence of Furacão 2000. This phenomenon started to bring songs with questions about relationships with women e sexuality. Furacão 2000 was responsible for launching big names of MC’s (masters of ceremonies, those who conducted the songs) and DJ’s. In addition, the presence of female singers began to be frequent. Although at firsthand, starting from an elitist look, the songs were seen as vulgar, in reality it was not quite like that.

What actually happened was the beginning of a "feminine statement", as big female names started to make their presence known. With the balls and parties still within the periphery, this was extremely significant. The appearance of women on the scene caused some singers to begin to replicate in their songs against what women sang, but always in a friendly atmosphere.

The base of the songs went beyond the foreign influences mentioned before, and started to go to a universe based on Afro-Brazilian mixes. Big names have been released to the media, including Mr. Catra, who is seen today as the "father of funk". Singers that today even gained international visibility, such as Anitta, started their careers in performances on the stages of Furacão 2000.

The biggest revolution took place in 2010. In 2010, funk started to go to the upper classes, becoming a product consumed even by young elites. All of this led to the creation of several musical niches, such as the "Ostentação" in São Paulo and “150 BPM” in Rio de Janeiro. Songs by singers such as MC Guimê and Renan da Penha, who gave rise to the famous Baile da Gaiola in RJ, emerged within the periphery and even arrived at parties at the most expensive universities in São Paulo.

Anitta, today with a career centered more on pop, but who made history in funk, reached international levels, taking the famous "square of eight" to big stages around the world.

Internationalization of Funk

Anitta, a girl from the Rio, made history. Today, she has a lot of awards and took the funk beat to the world. At this year's Grammy ceremony, Cardi B attracted the attention of the world media by starring in the song "W.A.P." with Pedro Sampaio’s remix and funk beats. This drew a series of criticisms from those who do not accept the gender for adopting an elitist look.

But this is extremely important, although it always presents two fronts. The main question is about the way in which a rhythm arising from the peripheries and those marginalized grows internationally, becoming a cultural product of Brazil, as well as, for example, samba and axé.

Some international musicians were enchanted by the funk rhythms on their visits to Brazil. At Lollapalooza 2016, the famous foreign duo Jack Ü, composed by DJs Diplo and Skrillex, invited MC Bin Laden for a surprise appearance during the show. The invitation was born out of the success of the hit “Tá tranquilo, tá favorável”, by MC Bin Laden.

In 2019, when he came to Brazil to sing at Rock In Rio, the world star Drake was enchanted by the funk from Rio de Janeiro and recorded his own version of the song “Ela é do Tipo”, by MC Kevin o Chris. The Canadian rapper's version mixes English and Portuguese, with the participation of the author of the original song.

When it comes to national music, starting from the adoption of a point of view coming from abroad, rhythms such as axé, samba and MPB come to mind, perhaps because they suffer less prejudice from certain classes and are more accepted by older generations. A researcher named Daniel Levintin stated in his thesis that the question of musical taste alludes to what we hear when we are younger. The scholar refers to such a phenomenon as a “past craze”.

However, in contrast, it is important to highlight the existence of a “gourmetization” of funk when taken out of the country. The funk that is seen on these stages, as in the case of Cardi B, is not the favela funk. It is not funk that preaches about the origins it came from, but a mix of a white DJ who has never had the experience of lyrics, which ends up taking away some essence of the rhythm.

However, it’s a fact that it is one of the rhythms that has "the most expensive in Brazil", since it misconfigures a certain elitist character found in certain types of music that are more accepted by the public, starting with MPB as an example. It is really important to always bring this “funk evolution” but be careful for this to never lose its most principal essence.


This article was edited by Anna Bastos.

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Izabella Giannola

Casper Libero '23

Izabella is a student of journalism at Cásper Libero. She is passionate about sports, fashion, literature and life. She dreams of representing the power of women in journalism by doing what she loves most.
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