‘City of God’ might just be the city of dance

‘Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats’ bursts with energy from the impoverished outskirts of Rio De Janeiro

by Keri Carlson

A ghetto pushed to the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Favela is a place you don’t want to mess with. It’s also home to immense poverty and an all-out war between drug lords and police.

Let’s put it this way: Iraq looks like a far safer place than Favela.

But this does not mean everything in Rio is ghetto – also known by many as filmmaker Fernando Meirelles’ title “City of God” – is depressing or horrible. Similar to scenes in that urban epic, Favela is full of music – music that bursts with intense rhythm and soul.

The music found on Essay Records’ latest collection – a compilation of tracks from Favela – features songs that demand to be danced to. And not just slightly tapping your foot and nodding your head, but getting all the way down and dirty.

The disc’s title, “Rio Baile Funk,” reads as though this collection might be just another world anthology of 1970s American funk mixed with congas. Instead, the CD features less funk and more hip hop.

“Baile Funk” does not take after old-school hip hop from New York, but borrows heavily from the big bass movement found in Miami in the ’80s. If you don’t have good speakers that can handle a lot of bass, this comp is not worth your time.

The Miami influence might be obvious, but the artists featured on “Baile Funk” have their own style and flow. Most of the songs are minimally structured, relying instead on Latin drum beats enhanced by gigantic booms. The MCs all rhyme with a loud and raspy shout that puts Lil’ Jon to shame.

Just imagine 2 Live Crew with an even better DJ and rhymes in Portuguese.

Nearly every track on the record could fill a dance floor. The only novelty that gets old is a track that sounds a bit too much like “Who Let the Dogs Out.”

Besides that, “Baile Funk” proves that some of the world’s worst conditions can still produce some of the best music.