Oh, baile funk!: … that’s what it is. Let it get into you …
Along with kwaito music in South Africa, baile funk is one of the first new genres of electronic dance music to have become important street music outside of North America and Europe. Though it has roots in Miami bass and rap, baile funk has evolved into a distinct musical genre, bearing a kinship to regionalized booty music hybrids like bounce in New Orleans or ghetto-tech in Detroit.
“Our sound is completely original now,” Mr. Catra said. “Only the beach here is the same as Miami.” As he spoke, a gunshot rang out in the street. A policeman had fired into the air and, as the crowd closed angrily around him, the officer arrested a teenager and sped off.
To spend time at a funk ball is to rethink one’s notion of pop history, to see rap music as exerting a bigger cultural influence than rock in the 21st century, to see 2 Live Crew as not a flash in the pan but a group with a worldwide influence on the order of Bob Marley or the Beatles. Because copyrights aren’t enforced in this world, sampling in baile funk is rife and hits may be based on anything from Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell” to a snippet of a song by the fey English band the Smiths to, a current favorite, synthesizer stabs from the Front 242 industrial-rock song “Headhunter V 3.0” The M.C.’s chant explicitly about sex or about life in the favela, often in a melody reminiscent of the chorus of the Run-DMC song “It’s Tricky.” Instead of playing records on vinyl, some D.J.’s simply place popular samples over homemade or recorded beats, so that one baile may have a more tribal hip-hop feel while another may sound like hardcore techno, although both D.J.’s are playing the same songs.