Brazilian funk, or funk carioca, a form of the popular culture from the favelas, or hillside slums, and other low-income neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro, is as multi-dimensional and ambiguous as the social reality from which it comes and is often misunderstood by outside observers and vilified in the media. Incorporating counter-cultural aspects of the international Black movement and world hip-hop and fusing them together with the culture of the favelas, funk has evolved into a rich musical form characterized by irony, complex masking and subversive messages and practices.
To examine these practices in funk, the author combines literary and cultural theory with social science hypotheses on the nature of the “social bandit” and the power of Rio’s drug gangs, as well as an ethnographic perspective mostly focusing on the community of the favela of Rocinha. After providing background on the climate of violence in Rio de Janeiro and discussing the social and economic organization of the community of Rocinha in general terms, he explores the nature of the baile funk in favelas as a platform for the staging of the power of the drug traffickers. he also attempts to map out the ideological contours of the rule of criminal factions in the partially alternative social formation of the favelas, paying special attention to lyrics of a style of underground funk music known as proibidão, one of the principal practices through which the legitimacy of these drug traffickers is produced and lived. Finally, he examines the utopian character of funk as a form of entertainment as an example of the tendencies of ‘black Atlantic’ cultures of the African Diaspora. He also explores its similarities with Brazilian Modernismo, compare it to contemporary Carnival and situate it in the context of other styles of popular music in Brazil.
Paul Sneed is Associate Professor of Brazilian Literary and Cultural Studies at Seoul National University. He spent several years working and conducting research in Belém do Pará and Rio de Janeiro, where he studied proibidão funk music in the city’s favelas. A former community educator and activist in Rio, his academic interests are in the intersections between daily life and social justice, especially in Latin American music, screen, and cultural studies and, more recently, in the lives of Koreans in the Americas.
Foreword by Carlos Palombini
Chapter 1 Funk Rio
Chapter 2 Machine Gun Voices
Chapter 3 Writing about Funk Carioca
Chapter 4 Proibidão and Rio’s Gangs
Chapter 5 Rocinha Favela
Chapter 6 Crimes of Self Defense
Chapter 7 Social Bandits in Funk
Chapter 8 Bandits of Christ
Chapter 9 Trafficking Culture
Chapter 10 Musical Survival Tactics
Chapter 11 Utopias de Favela
Chapter 12 Mixes from the Margins
Chapter 13 Last Dance