Booty and the Beat
Wherever There Are Asses To Be Backed Up, Brazilian Producer/Rapper Edu K Will Be There
“My music is party music, period,” baile funk producer/rapper Edu K asserts from his home in Brazil. “I won’t be putting tags all over it. [But] it’s really funny, the first time I heard Rio funk I said, ‘Hey, to me funk is James Brown, Sly [Stone], and all that, ya know?’ And people from the Rio funk scene would say, ‘No—that’s jazz.’”
After putting in years in a scene that has only recently reached the States through shady and legally questionable mixtapes, Edu K is now one of the few Brazilian baile funk artist to release a solo LP. His Frenétiko came out a few weeks ago on Germany’s Man Recordings. It’s certainly one of the only baile funk releases you’ll find in local record stores. Like Baltimore club, Brazilian baile funk is a fiercely regional style of dance music that, after existing for nearly two decades, has only recently washed up here as cult cargo from South American shores.
Beginning with the rise of Napster at the turn of the millennium, a user search for “Brazilian rap” began to turn up baile funk blasters from deeply underground compilations like Furacao 2000. The most salacious of these MP3s bore the tag “proibidao,” to inform DJs that they were in no way suitable for radio airplay. A ragged and speaker-rattling take on the sound of Miami bass, baile funk exists solely to move asses, and Edu K, a former punk rocker, now challenges 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell for bumping trunk funk supremacy.
The man fans simply call “K” was originally Eduardo Dorneles from Porto Alegre, Brazil’s southernmost major city, and one with a reputation for a high standard of living compared to Rio’s favelas, or slums, where baile funk was born. (“Baile” actually refers to the parties where the music is played; the terms “baile funk” and “favela funk” have been adopted by Americans and Europeans, but in Brazil, the sound is known as either “funk carioca”—“funk from Rio”—or just plain ol’ “funk.”) He cites Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and Kraftwerk’s Autobahn as formative influences along with late-’80s rap like JJ Fad, Tone-Loc, and, of course, 2 Live Crew. The late ’80s was also when Dornales first heard the work of DJ Marlboro, who was one of the first artists to translate American rap imports into the Brazilian idiom. Dorneles first became a star as frontman of the rock group De Falla, which recorded more than seven punk/metal albums. But De Falla’s biggest hit actually came with an homage to Rio de Janeiro’s woofer-bothering baile funk scene called “Popozuda Rock ’n’ Roll” in 2000.
“Popozuda” means, well, “big-assed woman,” a common theme in baile funk tracks. Big ol’ butts are a worldwide obsession, of course. But while Daisy Dukes, humps, rumps, and dumps like a truck have all shaken across the American Billboard charts, “Popozuda” was the song that signaled the universality of backside reverence in Brazil. It opens with a power-chord triplet reminiscent of the theme from Beverly Hills 90210, the rock guitar running throughout a slightly corny compliment.
Dorneles produced the De Falla album Miami Rock 2000 while living in Rio, where the sounds of the baile funk were a constant presence, along with the occasional rat-a-tat of gunfire. “Popozuda Rock ’n’ Roll” finally hit a worldwide audience with last year’s German compilation Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats. On Edu K’s 2006 remix EP Illegal (also Man), Dorneles takes the “Popozuda” formula a step further. Like Baltimore club DJs, producers in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain are known to use any sound that catches their ear. Brazilian CD-R’s feature beats built on tinny ring tones or the choruses of children’s songs; Dorneles is happy to match Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” with his own “Bundalel.”
Female MC Deize Tigrona’s Brazilian hit “Injecao” also gets the Illegal treatment, as Dorneles layers the popping beats with Angus Young’s grinding riffs from AC/DC’s “TNT.” Deize also appears on the Frenétiko track “Sex-o-matic,” featuring the hilariously blunt chorus of “Quero fazer sexo.” (For Anglo ears that’s “I wanna have sex.”) Dorneles plans to produce Deize’s solo album for Man Recordings within the next year.
Punk and rock aren’t the only elements that get tossed into Dorneles’ baile blender. He includes a reggaeton remix on Frenétiko, along with original tracks like “Hot Mama” that already draw heavily from the Puerto Rican style. “I totally see this connection between Rio baile funk, Jamaican soundsystems, and reggaeton,” Dorneles says. “All three genres have this sweaty, tropical feeling, so I guess it just figures.”
There’s also a connection with more temperate climates, such as club, U.K. grime, and even regional rap sounds like snap and bounce. There’s no section in Sam Goody yet for these sounds; there may never be one. (One the other hand, there’s the dubious honor of Kevin “Mr. Spears” Federline recording a baile funk track for his still-forthcoming debut album.) Instead, Edu K records get filed under electronic, despite having more to do with hip-hop.
Many of baile funk’s biggest stars are young funkieros who never leave their neighborhoods. Coming to the genre as an outsider and an established celebrity, Dorneles’ music is slicker than underground baile funk. But that glossy coat is what has allowed him to cross over, like the radio-ready productions of Dr. Dre vs. the raw drum-machine beats of Southern rap’s mixtape stars. But Dorneles’ first U.S. releases still capture the raw attitude that drew him to baile funk in the first place, hopefully converting a few Americans in the process, even if it’s one popozuda at a time.
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