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)

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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"

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