Rio de Janeiro's funk gains acceptance
In this Feb. 3, 2012 photo, people dance at a funk "baile" in the Cantagalo slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In the last five years, the genre has expanded its reach and enjoyed more social acceptance, with the help of an association of funk artists and supporters, Apafunk, and the backing of liberal legislators. Its market potential has become hard to ignore: A recent survey by the Brazilian think tank the Getulio Vargas Foundation found funk disc jockeys, MCs and others generate about $720 million a month in revenue. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio de Janeiro's rich, oceanfront promenades have their own music, made immortal in Bossa Nova tunes such as "The Girl from Ipanema." Carioca funk, on the other hand, is the soundtrack to another city — the one that doesn't make it onto postcards. As one hit tells it, funk is "black music, music from the favelas."
Borrowing freely from Miami bass, rap, soul and other American genres, funk layers a frenetic rhythm with lyrics that describe the reality of Rio's working poor: low wages, packed buses, dead-end jobs, the everyday threat of violence.
In this Dec. 8, 2012 photo, a trafficker, left, holds a riffle as he dances with women at a funk "baile" in a slum in western Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Huge funk “bailes,” or parties, go on past dawn, packed with shirtless young men who can be heavily armed drug dealers, in slums far from police control. Women wear barely there spandex getups and dramatize sexually explicit lyrics with hard-core, full-contact antics that would make an American stripper blush. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Subgenres can glorify the lifestyle of drug dealers, much like Mexico's narco-corridos, or simply serve as a titillating escape from the workaday grind. Huge funk "bailes," or parties, go on past dawn, packed with shirtless young men or drug dealers sporting thick gold chains and semiautomatics in slums far from police control. Women in barely there spandex getups and towering platform heels dramatize sexually explicit lyrics with hard-core, full-contact antics.
For many in Rio's favelas and far-flung peripheries, funk is the only venue for their story, said Adriana Facina, a professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro who studies Rio's funk movement.
In this Dec. 8, 2012 photo, a man reacts as he kneels on the floor during a funk "baile," or party, in a slum in western Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A 2007 law that had made it virtually impossible to hold the traditional open-air funk parties in favelas was repealed in 2009, and the musical genre was recognized as a “cultural movement.” (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
"All art is a form of communication, and funk allows the self-expression of a population that in a society like ours is oppressed and without a voice in the formal channels, the mainstream media," said Facina.