Baile funk is one of Brazil’s most rapidly evolving genres. In an interview with Afropop last year, Funk Na Caixa label boss Renato M2 told us about rasterinha and passinho do romano, baile styles that at the time were relatively new. Since then, any number of new developments have taken place to push baile forward. The past year has also seen the emergence of a very young generation of baile MCs, who have attracted huge followings, along with some controversy.
MC Brinquedo came up under the tutelage of baile funk’s chief provocateur MC Bin Laden. We first noticed Brinquedo in the amazing video for Bin Laden’s “Tchu Plin Tchu Plin,” in which the then-preteen rocks his signature pink-and-blue haircut, along with a Batman mask, vampire fangs, and a cooking pot for a hat. Beyond his wild fashion choices, Brinquedo also added an infectious chirping chorus and otherworldly warbling to the track. Like his mentor Bin Laden, Brinquedo has a knack for off-kilter wackiness. Since then, Brinquedo has scored some major hits, especially last November’s “Roça Roça.” His fame has spread so widely that Björk played a track by the 13-year-old in a recent DJ set. Lately, Brinquedo’s squeaky voice has deepened a bit, but his sense of unbridled fun has not diminished. In his latest video “Vem cá,” Brinquedo dances with his shirt over his face and makes out with his microphone. The track’s laid-back beat uses a pan flute to complement Brinquedo’s singsong chorus.
The success of Brinquedo and other baile child stars has provoked the ire of some of Brazil’s more conservative commentators, who have written editorials condemning their sexually suggestive lyrics. The subject was even taken up by the sensationalist U.K. tabloid Daily Mail, whose editorial combines an ignorant and rather racist view of baile funk (“the ghetto dance craze which typically glorifies crime, drugs and promiscuity”) with would-someone-please-think-of-the-children histrionics.
Another of these young stars, 13-year-old MC Pedrinho has been targeted by Brazilian prosecutors, who have attempted to ban his performances for their “erotic content.” If anything, the threat of censorship has only made Pedrinho more popular. His latest track with MC Menor do Chapa, “10 Mandamentos” is thrillingly catchy baile anthem.
At 15, MC Pikachu is practically a veteran by today’s baile standards. He recently put out the amazing “Tava no Boteco” with Rei da Cacimbinha, a song with an Old West mariachi feel to it to go with a hilarious video set in a saloon. As with MC Bin Laden, an evangelical Christian who plays the role of baile funk gangster, it is important to note that there is a theatrical aspect to baile funk. Its performers often portray outrageous characters that may not have anything to do with their real lives. Rather than glamorizing underage sex and crime, most of the videos by Brinquedo, Pedrinho and Pikachu seem to be about little more than having fun. And they certainly accomplish that.