Rio representer

Diplo brings baile funk to the US
By LEON NEYFAKH  |  April 11, 2006

UNIVERSALIST: EVERYTHING'S FAIR GAME FOR DIPLO, FROM LIL' JON TO THE SMITHS, MISSY ELLIOTT TO THE STROKES, KELLY CLARKSON TO DADDY YANKEE.It was 2002 when the then unknown DJ Diplo first started throwing his Hollertronix parties in Philadelphia. Nothing special about that really, except that he’s more than your average DJ: like any cultural curator — say, art-school instigators Andy Warhol and Tony Wilson — he created a new æsthetic in his discipline that corresponded with the advent of mash-ups. He’s become a tastemaker, a hunter of new sounds and unique combinations. In the process, he’s helped forge a universalist approach to consuming music. Everything is fair game, from Lil’ Jon to the Smiths, Missy Elliott to the Strokes, Kelly Clarkson to Daddy Yankee. Hollertronix represented a celebration of liking it all. It all came together for Diplo when he was asked to produce a track for Arular (XL/Beggars), the 2005 debut by the genre-bending London-based Sri Lankan siren M.I.A. (He also produced her breakthrough mixtape, Piracy Funds Terrorism, Volume 1.)

“It seems a lot of DJs today are taking pride in their scenes, and how far they can go and have a great party,” he writes in an e-mail regarding the impact of Hollertronix. “There wasn’t a thinking like this one year ago. But I can definitely see all these new young kids producing and working harder at DJing and moving music [forward] faster.”

Diplo isn’t exactly standing in place himself. He’s always had a talent for picking up on the newest trends. Last summer, he could be found at the Knitting Factory spinning opening sets for grime up-and-comer Kano. And this past February, he unveiled his new label, Mad Decent (a partnership with Phoenix contributor Chris Nelson), by releasing a 12-inch by the unknown Brazilian baile funk group Bonde do Role.

PAN-CULTURALISM: Bonde do Role are Diplo's attempt to bring Rio favela-born baile funk to the American mainstream.Bonde, as Diplo affectionately refers to them, fall in the tradition of invigorating Brazilian dance music that’s been reared in the filthy favela slums of Rio de Janeiro over the past decade. But until Diplo brought it over and threw it into the pan-cultural pastiche Arular, it was all but unknown outside South America. Its fan base in the US remains minuscule — something he hopes to change with Bonde do Role’s more accessible, more Americanized take on the form. “People say, yeah, I like baile funk, but only really nerdy kids on the Internet can name one artist!” he points out. “I thought, let’s have a fun artist, let’s produce a group proper for the world — just as an experiment.”

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Bonde do Role, "Melo Do Tabaco (A-Trak remix)" (mp3)

Bonde do Role, "Melo Do Tabaco (Paul Devro Sweet Mango Mix)" (mp3)

Baile bonanza

The Funk from the Hill Web site has a free on-line archive that offers the most complete guide to baile funk you’re likely to find. You can also download two FunkNeurótico comps here, as well as 10 other favela-funk mixes, all indispensable roadmaps to Brazilian funk. It’s all at www.evil-wire.org/~ampere/mp3/funky/. Here are four other comps worth seeking out.

1 | Funk Carioca — Mixed by Tetine (Mr. Bongo). Mixed by a Brazilian duo living in East London, this funk carioca comp sticks to the most modern stuff — songs like Os Salientes’ “Fofucha Preparada,” Deise Tigrona’s “Injeção,” and Cidinho & Doca’s “Rap da Felicidade.”

2 | Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats (Essay). Berlin-based DJ and journalist Daniel Haaksman spent a few weeks hanging out at baile funk parties in Rio and collected all the best stuff he found. This disc features Tchutchucos’ “Chapa Quente,” MC Mascote’s “Bate le Palme de Mao,” and SD Boys’ “Planta Dominado.”

3 | Diplo, Favela on Blast (self-released) and Favela Strikes Back (self-released). Short, self-contained mixes Diplo put together after visiting Brazil, these widely available comps have given baile funk its first exposure in the States.

4 | Baile Funk 1 — Brazilian Beat Mix (Brazilian Beat Brooklyn) and Baile Funk 2Agora e Moda (Brazilian Beat Brooklyn). Filled with “original” ’70s Brazilian funk, these comps came out of the Sunday-night dance series DJ Sean Marquand and Greg Caz had at Black Betty in Brooklyn. They’re not what you might expect from hearing Bonde do Role or Favela on Blast, but they do suggest the background from which the music came, and the liner notes, which translate all the titles and provide some history, are a big help.