Booty Call

DJ whoops butt disco from hills of Brazil, mashes up rising star who dances like a spaz

I have a purely booty-call relationship with Rio baile funk. I don't know a lot about it beyond the basics (it's made in the hills of Brazil, hence its other name, funky do morro); I'm not sure how exactly it developed (somebody listened to a lot of Miami bass and late-'80s MTV and decided that both of them were on the right track but nowhere near in-your-face enough); I don't even speak its language, although it's pretty clearly talking dirty a lot of the time. There is no pretense that this stuff is here for anything other than physical pleasure. But oh my God.

There's a sizable archive at evil-wire.org/~ampere/mp3/funky/, but Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats is the closest thing in the States to a formal survey of the scene: all hook, all bump, zero tolerance for boringness. Nobody can sing on key, but everybody can bark on the beat. The high point is De Falla's "Popozuda R n' Roll," which sounds like a glam-metal band and 2 Live Crew trying to play "Push It" at the same time, except stupider and better; it's followed by a lisping little kid swiping the drum break from "Wild Thing" (Tone-Loc's, although the Troggs' riff gets scratched in a few minutes later). Also ridiculously fun: Mc Jack E Chocolate's "Pavaroty," built around a swaggering la-la-la-la-la from guess who, and Bonde do Tiagro's "O Baile Todo," a supergerm hunter-killer variation on "Who Let the Dogs Out."

There's something uncomfortable about feeling like the genre matters more than the artists—Favela Booty Beats sounds all of a piece, but at least it identifies its contents. But Favela on Blast: Rio Baile Funk 04, an even hotter mix by the Philly-via-Florida DJ Diplo, is half an hour of anonymous party freaking. So, sadly, there's no way to know the identity of the incredible distracted-sounding chick who turns up six minutes in to sneer some coked-up rhymes over a juicy Latin freestyle beat that's followed by a sequence of riffs grabbed on the run from "Rock the Casbah," "I Got You (I Feel Good)," the Twilight Zone theme, and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." It's also impossible to tell if the human beatboxing over the "Bittersweet Symphony" loop is a baile funk producer's idea or Diplo's, but it feels totally nasty, in a good way.

Even upside down, Diplo bugs out more on other people's albums than on his own.
photo: Ben Harris/BSK
Even upside down, Diplo bugs out more on other people's albums than on his own.

Details

Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats
Essay

Favela On Blast: Rio Baile Funk 04
Hollertronix

Diplo
Florida
Big Dada

M.I.A./Diplo
Piracy Funds Terrorism Volume 1
no label

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Diplo's also got an album of his own, Florida; beyond "Diplo Rhythm," a pastiche of the stuff he spins, it's mostly in palm-to-chin DJ Shadow territory—technically solid, but not bugout-able. His deepest work so far, though, is a mix called Piracy Funds Terrorism Volume 1: a collaboration with M.I.A., a Sri Lankan British MC-producer-painter who designed the cover of the last Elastica album and dances like a happy spaz in her on-the-cheap video for "Galang." (PFT isn't on any label. You can get it by throwing your hands in the air and hoping somebody tosses you one. M.I.A.'s got an actual album coming out next year, though.) There's some baile funk here too, helpfully labeled as "Baile Funk One," "Two," and "Three"; also some Missy, LL, Cutty Ranks, and a boast of pop catholicism in M.I.A.'s "Fire Fire" that Diplo answers by hooking its beat up with the entire a cappella of the Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian."

A solid half of Piracy Funds Terrorism is M.I.A.'s own stuff. She's picked up her ideas about flow from dancehall, her ideas about tunes from cell phones and mash-ups ("Galang" got mashed with the Super Mario Brothers theme a couple weeks back, and "URAQT" is already the best song ever written about text-messaging jealousy), and her ideas about bass from being hit with snowballs. Her songs are as whoomp-there-it-is as baile funk, but they feel like the big boom is serving a bigger aesthetic: The words are so smooth they don't sound as complicated as they are, and politics poke through everywhere. "Amazon" is a fantasy about being kidnapped in Brazil, wanting to go home, and enjoying the view while she's there. Just over the hill, there's a party, and the beat is incredible.

 
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