Favela On Blast (2008) – Documentary

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With the World Cup going on in Brazil, for those not caught up by football (soccer) fever it’s a good time to revisit DJ/producer Diplo and his label Mad Decent’s 2008 documentary Favela On Blast. The documentary is about the music sub-culture in the city of Rio de Janeiro (in the poor neighborhoods, the favelas) called Baile Funk or Funk Carioca: a bass heavy sound with electro drum beats, reminiscent of Miami bass and electro funk of artists like MC Shy D and Afrika Bambaataa, mixed with local Brazilian musical flavors, and MCs rapping in Portuguese about gritty ghetto life in the favelas, sexual lyrics, and social commentary. Favela On Blast looks at this music subculture and the socio-political-economic aspects of Rio de Janerio, and the greater Brazil.

Since the 2008 release of Favela On Blast, the music of Baile Funk or Funk Carioca have evolved and splintered into sub genres. For example: Funk Melody – romantic songs featuring more female singers, Rasterinha – a slowed down (approx.96 BPM) style that’s influenced by Reggaeton, the fusion Afro-Caribbean style Axé, with the use of instruments such as the atabaque, pandero, and beatboxing, Proibidão (meaning “Very Prohibited”) – a style of Baile Funk or Funk Carioca that is street oriented, drug cartel related in the subject matters of the songs.

On the recent social-political-economic front of the favelas, where the music of baile funk or funk carioca comes from, a point of contention over this current World Cup in Brazil is the mistreatment, and out right land grab of the favelas by the corporations working with FIFA, Olympic games organizers and the Brazilian government in building infrastructure for the 2014 World Cup and future 2016 summer Olympics. [Fusion][Sydney Morning Herald][The Guardian]

Governments and corporations have trampled over poor people the world over, but the people some how survive these tragic actions, rising from the rubble to tell their stories, to cry, laugh, challenge injustices, and carry on in the face of adversity. The music plays a cathartic role, a space to vent frustrations, celebrate what little joy, and aspirations the people still have in them. The people say, “You’ve done your worst, but we are still here!” The picture the music paints is not always pretty because reality is not always a picture perfect.  In the spirit of inventos, making something out of next to nothing work for you, the favelas, barrios, ghettos, poor communities around the world stay rising.

Favela On Blast (2008) with English subtitles

A Farmer Jones Production