Note from BW of Brazil: The topic of the music genre known as funk has been featured from time to time on this blog. In reality, on a blog that discusses Brazil, culture and race, it’s impossible not to touch on it from time to time, even Beyonce knows this. But as styles change so has the funk. Although the origins of funk can be found in Rio de Janeiro in the style known as funk carioca, a flashy new style has changed the face and sound of the music once panned by its middle class critics. And for those who remember the lifestyles of excess as portrayed in late 90s early 2k American Hip Hop, this new style may look a little familiar. More to the point, if flattery were the sincerest form of flattery, American rappers from the “bling” generation would be proud of their offspring.
For most of its existence, sexual innuendo and denouncement of the police were common themes in funk carioca. What would one expect with so many singers and rappers being murdered in cold in blood with police being suspected of the crimes? But side-stepping the controversy, the so-called funk ostentação, or ostentation funk, is all about the bling. Although Brazil’s red-hot economy has cooled of late, in the past decade it lifted millions of Brazilians out poverty and into mid range middle class status (classe C), perhaps a direct reason for the rise of funk ostentação. In his post on the phenomenon, Dom Philips makes a similar point as a post from this blog about reactions to the rise of this new consumer:
“It is class C that drives Brazilian consumption, which in many ways drives the economy. As a result, the upper A and B classes have had to become used to the sight of Brazil’s nouveau riche on flights and in restaurants that were formerly reserved for the rich. A new reality they frequently complain about.”
Oh well, with videos featuring a familiar formula of baseball caps, big cars, champagne, beautiful women, jewelry and mansions, singers of the funk ostentação style want to show the world that they’ve arrived and so can others who come from similar modest origins. A song by the group Backdi and Bio G3’s is in fact called “Classe A”, a nod to Brazil’s upper classes. Looking back, one could actually have seen the eventual commercialization of the funk style with the runaway success of singer Anitta’s “funk light” formula. To be sure, poverty is still a problem in Brazil, but enough people have been able to become consumers of middle-class status that the new message seems have to drowned out the protests. With the numbers of murders in the past decade equaling that of countries at war, what conclusion would you draw from lyrics such as those by Backdi e Bio G3 that proclaim: “A champagne já tá no gelo e as gatas tão na sofa,” (the champagne is already on ice and the gatas (meaning cats, slang for hot women) on the sofa”?
During the mid to late 1990s and first decade of the 21st century, the vast majority of African-Americans and the American population in general were clearly not living the lifestyles in the videos of most rappers. In fact, most rappers themselves weren’t living these lifestyles! Thus the question is, are videos promoting (artificial) “lifestyles of the rich and famous” really a good look in a country where one can be considered “middle class” earning US$400-$583 per month? Hmmmm….But who am I to crash the party? Looking back on days gone by in Hip Hop’s “bling” era, some of these images have to be seen to be believed, so check the text, photos and videos below and see if they don’t remind you of anything….And if you want to see the full videos, click here.
Brazilian “Bling Bling”
Funk was born in the periferia (periphery or slums), denounced inequality, put in a lot of work and now rides in the big car of the year, enjoys parties only if it’s in the VIP area and flosses. Funk ostentação, or “ostentation funk” is a success in nightclubs of different social classes and has changed the lives of those who make it.
By Paula Minozzo
Funk has “moved on up” in life. Cars, beautiful women, VIP area in the club and luxurious perks are part of the new reality of some MCs who once protested against social inequality and the difficult life in the periphery (slum or favela). The so-called funk ostentação, or ostentation funk, as the name says, wants to floss – and a lot – with the batidão (funk dance scene) in the background. The more the merrier. But for funkeiros, singing about luxury means having arrived where they have always wanted be and being an inspiration to other kids who want to change their lives.
From the Maria da Conceição community, in Parthenon (Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil’s south), MC Dino, 21, starting singing funk at 13. He says it was at 19 that his career as a funkeiro started to catch on. Dino, as Pedro Rosa Alles is known, is the guy with the hit song “Vem pro Meu Harém” (Come to My Harem), a funk tune mixed with electronic music endorsed in clubs from the upper classes to the periphery, places he frequents alternately without any problem:
“Where they hire me, I play,” he says.
Dino, who has not left the neighborhood where he grew up , invest a lot in his music videos – which rely on expensive cars, jewelry and many (but many) girls inside a mansion – and had invest heavily in his funk career today managed by his father. For this, he abandoned his studies before completing high school but guarantees that it was with the funk that he had access to the reality portrayed in the songs now.
“I sing what I’ve seen, I’m not a millionaire, but I’m friends with soccer players and owners of nightclubs,” he reveals.
Cars and imported clothes that appear in the clips and are part of the current lifestyle refer to the American imagination, especially rapper Wiz Khalifa, who also flosses in his songs – in one of which, he says he has so much money that could open a bank. Incidentally, American rap is the precursor of this style. The tattoos, the necklaces with dollar sign, gold teeth, are registered trademarks of these artists who also grew up in the slums and now live in mansions.
“My dream is to see funk and not even American funk rap, dominating the charts,” Dino reveals.
Already in the Southeast region, one of the most known and recognized for funk ostentação is MC Guime aka Guilherme Aparecido Dantas, 22. A natural of Osasco, São Paulo, Guime does around 50 shows per month, in addition to performance fees, the numbers of views of his videos also pass the seven digit mark. The hit, “Plaque de 100”, in which he counts money, has over 27 million views on YouTube. Like Dino, Guime began his career writing and singing songs “with a conscience” as he defines it.
“I started singing in that style when the idea came up to do that like the videos of American rappers, showing cars and motorcycles. I was the first to make a video like this in Brazil and it blew up,” he states.
From a humble and difficult childhood, Guime sees in funk ostentação a way to inspire. It’s not only flossing to him.
“The idea is not being better than anyone else, I want to represent that if you want something, you can have it in any way you want. I also wanted to prove that I was broke, but I was capable, I wanted to push this vision that you can buy a car, a nice house and give structure to your family,” he says.
Today, he’s moved from the neighborhood where he grew up, finished high school, bought an apartment and helps his family. With funk, Guime says that he was able to buy a big sedan car, which drew the attention of neighborhood girls and was surprised when he began to earn much more than his father, who earned around R$2000 (about US$833) per month.
“Today I’m very happy and surprised, I had no idea what would happen. I see overcrowded shows and I am glad I had the opportunity to realize my dream.”
Also from São Paulo comes Rodolfo Martins Costa, 19, or Mc Rodolfinho, as became known in his first funk song: “Osasco é o Afeganistão” (Osasco is Afghanistan), a song about the city’s neighborhoods. The taste for batidão that started while he was still high school was also encouraged by the hardships of life. Funk was one of the ways to honor his best friend, who died. Today, one of his biggest hits is “Como é bom ser Vida Loka” (How Good It Is To Be Vida Loka), a song that talks about cars, booze and girls and has a video, produced by Kondzilla, famous in funk circles, who has also produced and directed videos with Mc Guime. Today, he’s driving the car of the year and considers funk his profession.
“My life changed from water into wine. I’ve been in funk for five years. In the beginning, sometimes I received a performance fee, sometimes I didn’t. 2012 was the year everything changed, I started doing a lot of shows, and was one of the first to enter where the funk hadn’t gone, in states like Goiás,” Rodolfinho says, saying he performs in lower class communities to the most affluent neighborhoods in Brazil.
“I think the audience can be lower or upper class, having money or not, they like the beat and the rhythm. Funk ostentação, besides being rhythm that the kids like, is an incentive for those who dream. Even the rich identify with it because of what I say in the lyrics,” comments Rodolfinho who that moved away from the neighborhood where he grew up because of the harassment that he began to suffer there.
Even now, with more money, Rodolfinho doesn’t only do funk ostentação. The funkeiro hasn’t stopped singing música de consciência, or music of conscience, as he calls it. Concerned – like others funkereiros – in showing boys where they came from that they can also change their lives, Rodolfinho isn’t concerned with criticism and isn’t offending anyone, especially women, who appear in large numbers in your clips.
“In São Paulo funk, it doesn’t have that thing of disrespect like Rio funk. They like it, they sing it. We raise their ego more than belittling girls.”
“Counting the plaque of 100, inside a Citroën , so invite because you know they (the girls) come. Transporting us good, Hornet or 1100, Kawasaki has Bandit, RR has too.” – Mc Güime
“Left pocket I got only my boys, the right is full of ounce, oh my god, the vida loka (crazy life) is good.” – MC Rodolfinho
“Phone rings all the time. And the radio just don’t stop. Several girls calling me, wanting to be invited” – MC Dino
Source: From Brazil, Kzuka