CD Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats (CD 1096278),
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Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats

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    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 3

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    This Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats compilation is one of those strange beasts where running down what it's not is the best way to sketch in the outline of what it is. Apart from singing in Portuguese, it doesn't sound very Brazilian except on the final two tracks. It is not a world music offshoot, although it may be the next step beyond the Mangue Beat school behind Chico Science or the samba school strain brought forward by Carlinhos Brown (though the closing "Academia de Furuao 1" could be Timbalada in byte-world, where samba school meets jungle/drum'n'bass). It may have some vague roots in Brazilian funk styles that developed in the '70s but not funk in the U.S. or Western pop world sense.
    It is definitely Casio generation youth music and far removed from the complexity of most Brazilian music. The influences are contemporary, with programmed drum beats and hip-hop reigning, yet taken one song at a time, it doesn't sound very compelling on a strictly dancefloor level. According to Andy Cumming's excellent liner notes, it is the Brazilian equivalent to Miami bass music and its derivatives, like the favored sound of the favela masses, dance music that became popular because a whole lotta street-level youth liked it. Maybe there is a stylistic link to bass music, but there is almost no bass in this music: it is vocals, programmed beats and little else. The basic template on roughly half the tracks is a rolling African-flavored percussion or programmed beat bed with a bit of keyboard and a skeletal chant. DJ Dennis and MC Cabo's "Tire a Camisa" changes music streams two or three times, with breaks between the title chants, and that qualifies as a complex arrangement. Within that minimal framework, oddball touches mark the songs: a chorus accordion against the seriously rockin' rap rhythm of "Chapa Quente" by Os Tchutchucos, the horse whinnies over percussion of "Pocotocopo" as MC Serghino works off the word rhythms. A filtered James Brown scream kicking off the massed crew vocals of Bonde de Tiago dog-woofing through "O Baile Todo," and the rap/mock opera tinges of "Pavaroty" (the title has to be a phonetic butchering of Pavarotti). A few songs are akin to the mid-'90s Jamaican dancehall era of bellowing, boisterous DJs, ghetto opera touches, or a brief '50s R&B infatuation. The screaming rock guitar and power driven riffs of De Falla's "Popuzuda Rock 'n' Roll" doesn't fit the format, to put it mildly. It's totally left field in this context but if you ever wondered what a Brazilian Beastie Boys doing "Fight for Your Right to Party" would sound like, this is your chance. SD Boys' "Planeta Dominado" suggests social commentary in Portuguese and the segue to the bass/cello undertow of DJ Dennis on "Cerol No Mao" is arresting before the song reverts to norm-form. It probably works like gangbusters at a big dance with speakers pumping up the volume -- which is probably the story with most of the songs here -- and probably why Favela Booty Beats is sequenced like a DJ set, with zero-to-minimal time breaks between songs. And that's why "Cidade de Deus" by Cidinhio & Doca comes as such a shock at the end: it's an actual song, with, you know, actual singing, and chord progressions.
    The liner notes offer an excellent historical capsule of how the music and the scene developed, adopting and adapting imported sounds to local elements. The music does exert a cumulative power eventually, but it's hard to imagine it having staying power outside its own little scene or on compilations like this one. And the package is short on specific track details. Along with the vocal duo from Os Tchutchucos, the singer/rapper on "Pique Ta" by O Corrascos stands out for his strong presence and hints of Chico Science vocal charisma. That's enough to pique major interest in checking him out more deeply, but he doesn't even get a name check. ~ Don Snowden

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