I had sent an e-mail to dj Sany Pitbull (one of the bigger dj names in Rio funk scene that had just returned from a tour in Europe) asking for an interview and got an astounishingly quick reply by brazilian standards: Her manager Adriana called me the next morning and said they are gonna do a baile at Cantagalo on friday and that in the afternoon, while the crew was putting up the sound system, there would be a possibility to do some interviews. There would also be some journalist from Austria and a brazilian photographer.
Perfect! Meet you at four, down at the favela entrance.
Four o’clock I met there the Austrians: Natalie and Mario. Waiting for Adriana we had time to chat. Natalie presented herself as a radio producer from the austrian national radio, FM4, and Mario was her boyfriend. Natalie was producing stuff for her night program of electronic music with dj guests. This was her third time in Rio, and she wanted to do quite a lot of different material about baile funk.
After Adriana came, we went up to the quadra (hall) where the crew was setting the sound systems for the night. Yes, sound systems in plural, since there were gonna be two equipes (crews) that night: Sany’s Pitbull and then Espacial, Cantagalo’s own boys, and they both had their own wall of speakers, set up on different sides of the hall in the old school hip-hop style.
We were presented to Sany and also to Pantera, the organizer of the baile (he’s in charge of the space; samba school Alegria da Zona Sul’s quadra). We met dj 17 from the Espacial and also mc Gringo, a german mc who’s been living two years in Rio singing at the bailes. And then there was Fernanda, a brazilian photographer.
During the afternoon a lot of contacts and friendships were made while chatting about baile funk and we did a lot of interviews. I’ll try to put the results out in further posts.
To do the interview with Sany we climbed up to the roof of the quadra, from where you could see the whole morro (hill) of Cantagalo with the shagg houses of the favela climbing all the way to the to, on left side Copacabana and a fabulous ocean view and on the right side sunset at Ipanema and Morro Dois Irmãos. There were at least 20 kids flying kites on the roof tops.
After the interview sessions we went to a local joint to get some dinner. In midst of some busy talking, several people from the neighbouring table started to chat with our party. We were introduced to Rita, a woman on her forties that was one of the main radio djs of the community radio. She had frequented baile funk scene in the seventies while it was still all about black soul and funk and nowadays hosted a flashback program of those days on the radio. She was also a vinyl collector and said she a whole wall full of vinyl at her home. Sany was really impressed as she was a woman and know a whole lot about baile funk history in the seventies. (Normally the sound system bisnes was men’s priority.) We met also Kátia, a local boxing teacher and Silvia, a guide who organizes visits to the favela for tourists.
After some rest at home we were to meet at the same juice bar in the corner at two o’clock to go together to the baile. By this time it was pouring rain, and as I come there were several police cars and police with heavy machine guns hiding behind one corner. I thought there was something big going on, but after a while they just packed their things and left. False alarm I guess...
The others picked me up with a taxi and up we went to the baile. It was totally different from the first time: There was plenty of colorful disco lights and lasers, and there wa a fairly big screen at the back wall, where mtv style hip-hop and r’n’b videos were projected. The djs were up on stands, Sany on one side and the Espacial team on the other. It was full, but it wasn’t packed like on New Year’s Eve.
The equipes played in about one hour turns and when we arrived Sany was kicking it off. He had he’s MPC with him and it gave far more potential to bass end frequencies then the cds. He’s sound system was really heavy and he had this bass frequency test sound on his MPC. It went sliding from the higher bass frequencies all the way to the lowest. When he released it you could feel like like a wave of bass shivering through you. It’s the most powerful single sound I’ve ever heard.
The party was good. From what I could recognize Menor da Chapa and Os Ousados were the names that got the most positive reaction from the crowd. The MPC gave an advantage tp Sany over Espacial, even though they weren’t competing in any way. He used the MPC quite a lot to rhytmicly accentuate songs and also to do a rhythm base just wholly on samples. It looks really good, as you’re really playing it live.
This time there was also a more mixed crowd of black and white brazilians and unnaturally many gringos also. Sany had some swedish guests with him and they tried to do some rap shit on the mics, but they were really drunk and really didn’t fit the mood of the party. Most of the people were just looking like what the fuck is this... Also Mc Gringo did a couple of songs on the mic, but he didn’t have much of a response either.
Every once in a while the both djs would talk on the mic to get the people going, send shout outs, greet friends or to do commercials. The community had just gained it’s first pharmacy, and they both did an ad to it several times. So many times it fellt like old school jamaican style djing with all the interruptions and general mic chatting, even though both were pretty good in mixing and western style djing also.
Around five am they started playing cheesy brazilian slow songs and we left as it was coming to the end of the baile.