Saturday, February 28, 2009

Township Palms by The Fader

DJ Mujava´s killer kwaito-tune Township Funk was easily one of the last season´s biggest hits in the Helsinki club scene. One definitely cannot be mad at this and the whole phenomenon seemed to spark an increased interest in sounds like kwaito, kuduro, cumbia and funk carioca.

Boldly going straight into the heart of this South-African sound, The Fader offers an interesting three part journey into the past, present and future of kwaito. First part comes with a fine little mix to enjoy while reading the second part and the third one, the former being an interview with aforementioned DJ Mujava, and the next interviewing DJ Cleo, "the Timbaland of Kwaito."

Ghetto Palms Kwaito and Pitori House (direct link, via The Fader)

And if you missed Mujava´s mega-hit, fear not, as The Fader also serves us with Radioclit´s take on the Township Funk.

DJ Mujava - Township Funk (Radioclit remix) (direct link, via The Fader)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Soca Delivery

Here´s a fine soca-mix, The Soca Delivery, fresh out of oven from Finland´s very own Komposti Sound. An incredible dose of energy to lighten up the long, dark Finnish winter.

Komposti Sound: The Soca Delivery (inc. MP3, artwork & tracklist)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Super Classics of Funk Carioca: Injeção

"'Ai, ai... When I go to the doctor´s. I´m feeling a little ache. Why don´t you give me an injection? Prick me doctor! Injections hurt when they enter, they rub when they enter. Oh my God, doctor, my butt can´t bear any longer.' - It was listening to this music that I became funkeira... This is the first lesson I learnt with funk carioca: it´s not for dullards or for anyone who takes themselves too seriously."

That was journalist Claudia Assef explaining how a hard-core paulista sees the light of funk carioca, on the sleeve-notes of Mr.Bongo´s Slum Dunk presents Funk Carioca-compilation. Released on 2004, it was one of the first vinyl releases of funk distributed worldwide. The song she is talking about is "Injeção" - "Injection" - by Deize Tigrona, a former housecleaner originally from São Conrado in Rio on her way to funk-superstardom.

It is a prime example of putaria funk - songs devoted to extremely dirty, explicitly sexual lyrics. If a putaria song has any (hardly covered) double-sentiment, like Injection, it´s just for the sake of funny, ironic symbolism: metaphor here is not meant to hide the sexual content, but rather makes the song much more entertaining than a mere explicit description of sexual intercourse would have been. And while often tiresome, the best of putaria songs, like Deize´s tune, manage to be not just naughty, but also funny, clever and even liberating.

Deize Tigrona: Injeção (zShare)

Today, Deize Tigrona, 29, is married - to funk DJ Raphael - and a mother of three children. September´s issue of the Brazilian Rolling Stone ran a small interview of the artist, where she seems to feel slightly restricted by the conventions of putaria funk and explains how working with electro funk and artists like Diplo or Buraka Som System allow her more creative independence. "My daughter is already asking a lot of questions", she comments on dirtier funk lyrics.

In a way Injeção became world-famous when Diplo sampled the song for M.I.A's first hit "Bucky Done Gun". Indeed, Deize Tigrona seems to be one of the most in-demand MCs in the global funk scene. Currently she´s been singing for Buraka Som Sistema, the portuguese kuduru act, and laid down lyrics for a number of releases for Berlin´s Man Recordings, including the 7" single "Bandida" with Diplo. "Now I can make lyrics with more content, more quality", Deize explains to Rolling Stone, clearly tired but happy about the global success that has given her a chance to tour all around the world.

As a bonus and small demonstration of new directions for Deize Tigrona, here's a song by Lisbon-based producer DJ Manaia. See also his blog and the original Discobelle-post for additional Manaia-goodies.

DJ Manaia: Sobrevivente do Rave (feat. Deize Tigrona) (a direct link, via Discobelle)

Note: I don´t feel very happy about posting a song from a compilation that is still available world-wide. Yet - to white-wash my conscience a bit - I feel that it´s such a fine selection of great funk carioca-tunes from a bunch of central artists in the game that if you like the Deize Tigrona-song, you absolutely have to go and buy the whole album. So shoo, go get it now, clickety click.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lens Politica

Third Lens Politica, a festival for political film, is organized November 19th – 23rd in Helsinki. The whole programme (well, almost whole programme) is now available on the festival website.

Festival opens with extremely interesting What would Jesus Buy? (19.11. 18:00 Kiasma-theatre, 21.11. 21:00 Andorra) Without further ado, just take a look at the hilarious trailer and see for yourself. The director of the film Rob VanAlkemade and the main characters Reverend Billy and Savitri D will also visit Helsinki as guests of the festival.

Another key film is Full Battle Rattle (2007) by Tony Gerber and Jesse Moss (22.11. 21:30 Andorra). Quoting the website, "the film tells about the training in an American war simulation village, Medina Wasl. The American soldiers practise for the war in Iraq in very surreal surroundings built in the middle of California."

More related to this blog might be the screenings with the themes New Eyes on Cuba and Venezuelan Contemporary Cinema. There will also be a panel discussion on the topic "New film and political landscapes in Latin America" with Venezuelan filmmaker Willmer Perez and Cuban director Manuel Perez Paredes.

The Lens Politica-exhibitions, spreading all over the city, showcase political fine art ranging from videos and photography to sculpture and environmental art. Exhibitions are open 20th to 30th of November. Group exhibition (Galleria FAFA, Lönnrotinkatu 23) features The Divided City, my selection of images from Rio de Janeiro. Other interesting works - just to mention a few - should be Sacha Huber´s Rentyhorn (you might also want to sign the Rentyhorn petition here) and Elena Kovylina's video installation Dying Swans (Kaiku Galleria, Kaikukatu 4).

Lens Politica in Internet
Festival website

Monday, November 3, 2008

Super Classics of Funk Carioca: Rap do Borel

When Carlos Eduardo Cardoso da Silva left the favela of Borel at age of 11 for neighbourhood of Santa Cruz, he was crying. "I swore that I will return to Borel", he told to journalist Silvio Essinger in the book Batidão - Uma Historia do Funk.

No only did he return: he confessed his love for his home in a funk song that put Borel on the map for every kid sweating it out on the floors of Rio´s bailes. Carlos would become known as Duda do Borel, the other half of duo William & Duda, men behind funk hit "Rap do Borel" (aka "Rap da Liberdade").

Carlos moved back to his beloved Borel at age of 19. He wanted to become a football star, but broke his leg in while playing and decided to leave these dreams behind. In Borel, he met an old friend, William Santos de Souza, who convinced him to instead step on the stage and start singing funk.

"Rap do Borel", distributed on casettes around the community, was a hit before the duo even performed it in the local bailes for the first time. Grandmaster Raphael from the legendary sound system Furacão 2000 broke the song for all the Rio through the Furacão's radio show and it was then released on Pipo´s "Volta do Homem Mau"-compilation. Eventually "Rap do Borel" became one of the three classic funk hits of 1995 that propelled the genre into the Brazilian mainstream media. (Other two I have covered in this blog earlier - see articles on "Rap das Armas" and "Rap da Felicidade.")

Fame quickly followed, including performances on TV Globo, "the CNN of Brazil", and even a remix for pop-rock star Lulu Santos. But like so often, success, fame and cash also brought the hardships. First came problems with the manager and personal disputes between William and Duda followed, leading to the breaking up of the duo. "We were like a family, I feel he started to see much money and lost his head", Duda laments in Batidão.

Borel até morrer

Borel até morrer - Borel till you die, rather freely translated. This is what the song is all about, the pride over one´s community. "Rap do Borel" is a celebration of the good will and friendship between the residents of the community: "The most humble hill in big barrio of Tijuca / for my friends, we all are friends / there it´s like a family". (1.)

But the song later takes on a darker tone, lamenting the friends lost to violence. "Lots of friends went to heaven / that´s why William and Duda ask peace for the Hill of Borel / we came to sing, to remember / a little the friends who went, never to return / since our world is blue like sky". (2.) And to conclude, the song also lists other fine favelas to give them a shout-out.

In a way the lyrics are very typical for this genre of funk songs. Very similar song is "Rap da Rocinha", by MC Galo. First, the praise for the home favela, then plea for peace, list of parts of favela and finally some love to a number of other communities. Naive? Perhaps, but I still find these songs very touching in their own way and their simple message is a highly important one: a change for better starts with self-confidence and pride over where you come from and who you are.

A Rolling Stone

When the duo broke, Duda felt crushed. Who convinced him to continue his career was a young up-and-coming MC by the name of Mr.Catra, now a legendary funk MC himself: "Duda was desperate, he was saying that he was not going to sing anymore, that life was at end... So I said: 'Get up!'"

And get up he did. Duda is still working hard, one of the most respected veterans in the funk game of Rio de Janeiro. He has even travelled all the way to Finland to rock the show, thanks to DJ Rideon (read all about Duda´s very succesful Finnish invasion here). His funks are still highly socially concious, as "Rap do Guerreiro" from a few years back demonstrates: "Look at the kid growing / looking for work but not finding / two years later look at the kid / on the hill carrying an AK." (3.)

Rideon describes Duda´s incredible stage prencence pretty perfectly after witnessing him live in January 2007: "Duda is a huge, playful man, reminded me of Biz Markie because of his size and character. He was really taking his singing to another extent with grouwling, shouting, moaning and barking. He was constantly moving around the stage bouncing and he really got the crowd going. It seemed like everybody knew the lyrics and were singing along." (Rio Baile Funk: I Love Baile Funk at Circo Voador)

William e Duda: Rap do Borel (zShare)

As a bonus (and as a sort of an apology for bad sound quality of the previous file), here´s another classic song by the same duo:

William e Duda: Rap da Morena (zShare)

- - -

1) "O morro mais humilde o bairro Tijucão / porque meus amigos nós somos todos irmãos / lá é como uma família"

2) "Foram muito amigos que foram pra o céu / por isso William e Duda pede a paz pro Morro do Borel / viemos cantar, para poder lembrar / um pouco dos amigos que se foi pra nunca mais voltar / pois o nosso mundo é azul igual o céu"

3) "Olha o moleque crescendo / procurando emprego mas sem encontrar / olha dois anos depois o moleque / no morro portando um AK"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mad Decent meets Cumbia

Diplo´s wonderful record label Mad Decent announced signing Toy Selectah from Monterrey, Mexico, to their roster. As the label describes him, Toy is an icon in Mexican music. He produced one of the first and biggest hip-hop acts in the country with Control Machete back in the '90s, moved on to A&R - direct for the biggest latin acts on Universal - and revived the Mexican cumbia scene with live DJ-sets around the world.

Toy Selectah is putting out his 12" on Mad Decent in January with his crew Sonidero Nacional under the new title Cumbias Machine. While digging into my song archives, I ran into the following Sonidero Nacional remix of Mexican pop princess Julieta Venegas´ song "Eres Para Mi". The remix fuses pop, reggaeton and cumbia into something called... cumbow? (Should such title leave you puzzled, let a professional musicologist shed some light on the issue.)

Julieta Venegas - Eres Para Mi (Sonidero Nacional Cumbow remix feat. Anita Tijoux and Sonidero Nacional) (zShare)

After that Toy Selectah´s official remix of Calle 13´s new single almost feels like a natural move. Calle 13 is one of the most progressive reggaeton acts hailing from Puerto Rico. Group´s previous albums took the Latin America by a storm and the third one is about to drop. Here Calle 13 manage to write a love song that has the group's trademark wit and dryish humour, yet is kinda touching at the same time.

Calle 13 - Nadie Como Tu (Toy Selectah Raverton remix feat. Café Tacuba) (direct link, via Mad Decent)

And finally Toy´s somewhat unique take on Chromeo´s Fancy Footwork.

Chromeo - Fancy Footwork (Toy Selectah Raverton remix) (zShare)

(Read more from Mad Decent´s blog.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yes, we are back.

After months of silence, I am working on taking this blog back on-line. Especially a lot of articles on funk carioca are right on their way. Meanwhile, a few free goodies for anyone interested in how is that experimental cumbia stuff doing. Pretty well, apparently.

The grand ol´ men of experimental cumbia in Buenos Aires, ZZK Records, have put on-line a nice selection of mix-tapes from the biggest names in the city: Villa Diamante, Chancha via Circuito, El Remolon and my favourites, the Mendozan "digital cumbia ragga dancehall" duo Fauna (mixed by Daleduro). Also grab the new Fauna song Los Piratas del Zanjon (Zurita Mix) for free. And congratulations to Zizek for club´s second anniversary - and November 2008 European Tour!

Cabeza! is a net label offering digital cumbia (and anything related, from hip-hop to dancehall), on-line, all for free. In their own words, they want to invite you to have a taste of sounds that are nothing less than "super-original, incredibly tasty and finely selected. Danceable in any moment and any place on planet. Rhythms with seal of quality." So give 'em a try and go get that stuff!

And if that isn´t enough cumbia for you, or you want to get your hands on something more physical, Bay Area´s Bersa Discos are there for you. Their third EP is out, this time featuring Chancha via Circuito and DJ Panik. The EP is again getting a lot of love from Turn Table Lab and is available in other selected on-line stores too.