I’m in a S. American time warp. Everything in Rio happens slow, filtered through the humidity. No one is in a rush. Everyone wears sandals. Last night I finally made it to a baile funk. I showed up around 3 to Favela do Vidigal- in the South Zone of the city, with my friend Gabi who is researching technology + production and distribution in the Funk scene.
I felt the bass when we got out of our cab- but we still needed a five minute moto taxi up the hill, past anti-police roadblocks, to the party. The soundsystem stretched across the entirety of a T intersection- blacklights hung everywhere and the subs were mounted at head level- ensuring that chest-rattling bass could be felt even in the way back of the crowd. The blacklights accentuated the whites and neon yellows of the futbol apparel that men were rocking. Even with the hazy compressed sodium street lights- everything was glowing- it felt like a cavernous club interior. Armed men walked casually through the crowd, navigating crews of dancers bouncing to the floor and back to commands that translate to “drop it on my dick and fuck.”
What startled me most wasn’t seeing all of the tropes of baile sensationalism before me- ASS, GUNS, BASS!- but how much it reminded me of my favorite parties anywhere. Dancers who loved dancing, cute gay boys twerking it like pros, poppers battling near the speakers, footwerkers taking off their sandals and braving the cobblestone to go double time on already frenetic beats, and music that was ethereal and present, infused with all the sweet/sweat synthsations of my favorite RnB coupled with a low end urgency that has kept with funk since the latin freestyle and miami bass days. The DJ was a middle aged man in a dark grey tee and a brown zip up hoodie, he didnt sing or dance along, just looked out on the crowd with a knowing look of stoic contentment, this is his work, and he is absolutely killing it- at one point, from behind the platform that hes standing on alone about 30 yards back from the system- i glanced up at t his acer netbook and only saw Winamp running. There are no monitors, no headphones. I was already too drunk to need anything from the bars that served endless variations on fresh squeezed juices, liquor and redbull. I danced until it started to pour, the dj put a backpack on top of his laptop, a weathered tarp covered the speakers, the music kept going, but we decided to walk down the hill. Half way down the power cut out, everything went dark.
I’m still trying to get my head around the music- because it sounded different then most of the funk I had heard before. Vaguely: more European club music then 2-Live -Crew. It reminded me of NguzuNguzu- whose production I adore primarily because I have absolutely know idea what to do with it. It’s almost always too Ravey for me to want to play it out- but at the same time there is something seditious and dark beneath all the glistening synths- and that darkness and space is what keeps drawing me back. I honestly think they could of wrecked this party last night. The first track of theirs I heard was Kingdom’s remix of Hate 2 Wait- which to this day is one of my favorites to drop when its time for a radical new direction in my sets. Dutty Artz extended family Khalif Mihaji Leif just killed a voicing of the original instrumental that wraps up to perfection with some Linzy-esque crooning. When homeboy graduates from college I give it two years tops until he’s a household name for 20 somethings worldwide.
NguzuNguzu have a new E.P. dropping on Silverback records early October – they did up a promo mix for it- that you can grab over at Scattermusic– (i would re-up it for u- but my internet run real slow down here)