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Archive for the ‘Brazil’ Category

Favelas

The city of Rio de Janeiro has approximately 600 favelas–aka shanty towns or slums–ranging in population from the low thousands to close to 150,000 in Rocinha, the largest. They are grim places of soul crushing poverty and at the same time many have a modern vital culture fueled by the twin strands of tradition and globalization.

Baile funk is what the world calls the sound of the favelas, rhymic hip hop music, influenced by Miami Bass with aggressive lyrics, the gansta rap of the Brazilian slums.   Matt Mochary explains

Baile Funk is the music that is played at the dances put on by the drug gangs to sell drugs and make the favela residents happy (at least those who don’t want to sleep!). Its hard to describe, but you know it when you hear it. The lyrics are very misogonystic. Like American rap.

Originally the term “baile funk” meant only the dance parties, but through global usage it became to name of the music played at the parties. With globalization, the music developed a life of its own.

As multinational corporations make inroads into the favelas for good and/or for bad, drawn by the vast population which though poor have a degree of disposable income–because as, Robert Neuwirth writes in Shadow Cities, they  often don’t pay taxes–the favelas have been busy exporting and exploiting their own culture.

Globalization flows both ways. This blog explores the swirl of globalization in the vortex of Rio’s favelas.

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