Cabelo introduces MC Fininho

A Gentil Carioca (2011)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brief history of carioca funk

Text for the Cabelo introduces MC Fininho and DJ Barbante at Baile Funk (Gentil) Carioca exhibition

Silvio Essinger

Exhibition catalog | 2011

In the beginning was the Baile. The meeting of young locals in front of an innovation: funk. And at the dawn of the ’70s, funk was wild dancing, dirty, sexual, dangerous and seductive at the same time, with which the American James Brown drew hearts, hips and minds worldwide. Baile Funk: instead of the sound of leather, wood and ropes of samba, it used the powerful speakers of the soundsystem to trumpet grooves to the delight of kids that were short on money and high in spirit. A black tsunami followed the tracks from the Central station, flooded the suburbs, and its victims celebrate it until today: every weekend the funk still plays, and people still say ¨já é, demorou¨ (“Hey, let´s go!”).

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Since the `70s, funk music went through successive mutations – disco, discofunk, eletrofunk, hip-hop … these innovations were embraced without difficulty by Baile Funk DJs. Swallowed up like Bishop Sardinha who landed in Ramos beach, this alien sound was incorporated into local drumming and chanting. And turned into the music of a city that was born in samba and raised in the ratatat of guns. It turned into the batidão, pancadão (Big Beat)… the music of the Rio Bailes – the Baile that began with James Brown and entered the new millennium without losing the nickname funk.

It was in the late ’80s that the screaming crowd, playing with that chorus in English that nobody understood, produced a new version of the music. “Doo wah diddy diddy diddy dumm”, was sung by the American MC on one side of disk. On the other side, the masses shouted back: “mulher feia chupa p* e dá o c*” (ugly woman sucks d* and gives her a*). Without sin and without judgement. The DJ copied the beats, tempered the lyrics “cheira mal como urubu” (“stinks like a vulture”) and played the song at the Baile. The “Melô da Mulher Feia” (Melody of the Ugly Woman) was born, the first ever success of Brazilian Funk (Rio of origin).

The message ran and hit the city slums. Holding imported weaponry the boys yelled – Play the Volt Mix DJ! – The boys who shouted and waved at the Bailes never stopped terrifying: they did raps to tell us where they were from, how they lived and what they wanted. The Baile played and they continued. One day, the entire city learned that happiness could be found there, where for a long time it seemed to have been banned. “Eu só quero é ser feliz, andar tranquilamente na favela onde eu nasci, e poder me orgulhar, e ter a consciência que o pobre tem seu lugar” (“Rap da Felicidade”, de Cidinho e Doca, MCs da Cidade de Deus). The funk took its time to take hold, but then it exploded.

Rio listened, Brazil listened. And danced. But violence made the headlines: fights, brawls, bad manners, noise that would´t allow the neighbors to sleep … funk embodied all of that, as if a musical genre could be blamed for all the wrong things in the Cidade Maravilhosa. Meanwhile, few were aware that a cultural revolution was underway. An underground revolution, not noted in the so called mainstream culture.

Even so, with more headlines in the crime pages than in the cultural pages, funk didn´t get fazed. It spoke of love, of celebration and of the not always pretty reality of the favela. It inspired impossible dance moves. It invaded the pop music of the middle class youth, the rhymes of their grandparents, the western sertanejo records (Jack Matador!), the percussion of umbanda communities … and arrived in 2000 with a character of its own, ready for further invasions.

Those who saw it, lived it. The Bonde do Tigrão paving the way for the ripped young people of the slum to exhale sensuality. Tati Quebra-Barraco giving it back to the sexist MCs. Mr. Catra mixing sex, religion and political awareness with an authoritative voice of thunder. Serginho and the sadly missed Lacraia challenging sexual stereotypes by using innocent jokes. Leo making everyone dance easy. And Créu making everyone f* in five speeds.

Today, funk is sound, light, dance, a masters thesis, a source of income, trouble with the police and success in Europe (after all, which German DJ resists the pressure of it´s gutsy beats?). Funk is the “Mulher fruta” (“fruit woman”), having fun with internet videos, making fun of the tanned blonde from São Paulo, the videogame soundtrack and the theme of TV debates.

In the country where everything used to end with samba … Today it is baile funk that has the answer. Too bad James Brown is no longer around to see what his seed turned into.

Silvio Essinger is a journalist and writer, author of ‘Batidão, uma História do Funk’.

1 – A “Baile” is a party in which funk music is played.
2 – Bishop Sardinha was eaten by the Aimorés tribe in the 16. century. The story of Bishop Sardinha is mentioned in the Manifesto Antropófago, written by Oswald de Andrade (Cannibalist Manifesto, 1928).
3 – Praia de Ramos is a popular beach in the north zone of Rio de Janeiro.
4 – “I just want to be happy, walk quietly in the favela where I was born. And be proud. And be conscious that the poor have their place “(” Rap da Felicidade ” by Cidinho and Doca, MCs from Cidade de Deus).
5 – Sertanejo is a style of music from the Brazilian countryside.

Translated from Portuguese by Thais Medeiros

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Life is a chorus

Ficticious biography for the Cabelo introduces MC Fininho and DJ Barbante at Baile Funk (Gentil) Carioca exhibition

Fred Coelho

Exhibition catalog | 2011

Respected public, it is not every day that we hear the story of some of the characters of the Rio underground scene. In this exhibition, Cabelo and Gentil Carioca present a little bit about the life and work of the unforgettable antihero MC Fininho. Fininho, a good boy, had a “corpo fechado”, sported a gold chain, had nothing in his pockets or hands and wore colourful trainers. He is also known as one of the main articulators of the musical basses and of the places (quadras!) where the Baile was born and rules until today. Way back in 1983 it was MC Fininho who, after a kamikaze trip to the U.S. to embark on the spacecraft announced by George Clinton, brought back the LP “Planet Rock” under his arm. It was Fininho the boy-wonder, who led the dance in the first Bailes in Villa Lage, the cradle of his comrades from Pipo’s, and the next day, ate canjica in the jongo of Morro da Serrinha. Connoisseur of all the nooks and crannys and community radio stations, Fininho drifted between homes, families and soundsystems like a nomad of funk, spreading the word, learning the esperanto of the streets and transforming his history and the history of world music. Fininho was also present on pirate radio stations during the eighties singing a thousand times the first versions of Brazilian funk recorded with DJ Barbante, as requested by the listeners. He was also the creator of classic expressions like “tô bolado” (“I’m annoyed”) and “não tem caô” (“no hassle”) and administered the first teachings on Miami bass from the squares of the Complexo do Alemão to Praça Seca.

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They say that Fininho hasn't appeared in photos or interviews since the so-called “arrastões”, of 1992. At this time, his image was marked in the headlines as the leader of the “bonde” that came bouncing on the “474” bus, agitated, heaving, with everybody singing the “Melô da mulher feia” (“Melody of the ugly woman”). After this incident that forever branded the funkeiros cariocas, Fininho disappeared from the map and his story has become obscure. Some say it was exactly at this time that Fininho met Cabelo, a young university student and cultural activist who lived in Copacabana, that surfed on the beach with the boys from Pavão. Cabelo met Fininho at a late afternoon kickabout in the summer and the connection was instant. They sang sambas by Almir Guineto and discussed esoteric topics, laughing and talking very loudly. It was Fininho who suggested to Cabelo the theme of his first verses and the idea that making music and visual arts was a possible dream to live off. Fininho showed Cabelo that the precarious is potent, that little can be much, that the masses are the ones that heat the streets and that when the “bonde” begins, nothing can stop it.

In 1999, however, Fininho was silenced and exiled from the Bailes and the Detroit-Taquara-Luanda MPC trafficking route was interrupted. With the opening of the Funk CPI (Parliamentary Inquiry Comission into funk) in the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro, Fininho was called to give testimony as one of the main deponents. His speech was awaited by all authorities and broadcasters as urban legends attributed to him the key to the secret history of Funk, from the founding of the Soul Grand Prix to the design of the Bagulhão ZZ discs, from giving tips to the sampler of “Jack Matador” to the suggestion of “Marlboro” as a name to a DJ from Lins Vasconcellos. His appearance was marked by bullying from the press, women with children in laps claiming paternity tests and dancers of the Renaissance Club paying solidarity to the old friend and teacher. His testimony was enigmatic, all in the language of Congo, TTK and slang from the Chaparral Baile. He said that his father used the parangolé ‘INCORPORO A REVOLTA’ (Incorporate the Revolt) at the MAM in 1965 and that he knew by heart the eulogies of rich women about his fathers avant-garde performance that ruptured the aesthetic standards defended by the book of Ferreira Gullar. “There,” said Fininho, “I decided that my mission was to make everybody dance.” When asked if he was not afraid to have such a heavy and dark biography, Fininho answered with his most memorable quote, the one that still now marks generations of intellectuals and street urchins, “My friend, don’t concentrate on the lyrics because life is a chorus!”. After his bombastic refusal to denounce the “police” who allowed the Baile in the Bandeirantes Club in Taquara and the “husslers” who payed for the transport of the funk crew, the Funk CPI was closed due to a lack of evidence and the clamor of a public asking for the Bailes to be allowed to occur. Fininho left the Legislative Assembly and disappeared, entering into a van that was going to Cocotá, Cacuia and Bananal.

At that time, Cabelo was already a well-known artist and shared his studio with Fininho, who had his low technology studio powered by the magnetic fault of ‘Santa Clara Poltergeist’ and by the thumping bass of Pavão´s Baile on the walls of the buildings in Copacabana, Sáfeganistão’s hood. The aesthetic exchanges between the two meant that Cabelo started to compose raps and Fininho rescued, through objects and drawings, his childhood roots in the bars of the Morro do Esqueleto, listening to the legend of the death of Le Coq and the hundred bullet holes in Cara de Cavalo. Fininho started to study art theory and proposed a philosophical revolution in Funk music. He began writing his lyrics after immersion in news weeklies, conversations between bus conducters and reading long stretches of Catatau, the tropical Cartesianism book from Leminski.

The fact is, paradoxically, that the twenty-first century and all the ‘verbovocovisual’ impact that the Internet and digital culture brought us was too strong for Fininho. Prophet of the sampler and montages, spokesman of the poststructuralist pancadão, our hero did not adapt to the stardom that anthropologists, musicologists and philosophers attributed to him. One sunny day, Fininho said he was going to wash his car on the street and disappeared into the paths and alleys of IAPI Olaria, the last place where witnesses saw him. Some say that the symbiosis between Fininho and Cabelo, his partner, was so strong that in some way one became the other and vice versa, and that it could no longer could be distinguished where the ideas of the artist began and the ideas of the ‘funkeiro’ ended. After Fininho left the scene, Cabelo created, in exhibitions abroad and around Brazil, a series of characters, perhaps to disguise the strong presence of his partner-alterego in his life and work. Today, the question that remains for everyone is who is the creator and who is the creature. Cabelo will never answer that question, proving that the influence of Fininho in the musical and visual culture in Rio can not be contained and should not be silenced by critics and art historians. What the funks of Fininho and the art work of Cabelo, first performed together in this exhibition of Gentil Carioca, may elucidate – or increase – is this border that both invite us to cross. Because it is worth remembering that for Cabelo and Fininho, the talk is straight, the mission is sinister, and the shit is neurotic.

This text is dedicated to Fausto Fawcett and Silvio Essinger

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Art = Life

Text for the Cabelo introduces MC Fininho and DJ Barbante at Baile Funk (Gentil) Carioca exhibition

Felipe Scovino

Exhibition catalog | 2011

Collaborative and collective practices have been a constant in the last two decades, mainly due to a symptom of visual arts: the ability to constantly rethink and retrain its aesthetic and political positions. If, on the one hand the visual arts advance with the formatting of dialogues with another territories and disciplines, on the other hand, it tends to cross borders and cast doubt on the articulations and appearances from its own experimentation. I draw attention to this last point, because in this exhibition we are facing the work of an artist who always combined two artistic fields harmoniously, (music and visual arts), establishing more contact points than differences, and a curator, who despite having a solid work as an artist, never deprived himself of the function of the critic (for example as editor of the magazines Item and O Carioca).

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Although many of these cited practices include collaborations between artists, this exhibition involves a project where artists collaborate around a culture that suffers from the swinging pendulum of media coverage and cultural revalidation for the, let´s say, less fortunate. Funk, although it has in recent years left the suburbs to be a medium and product of, for example, large advertising agencies and television broadcasters, is still the object of prejudice as MC Marcinho would say in “Som de Preto” (“Black Sound”): “É som de preto/ de favelado/ mas quando toca/ ninguém fica parado”.

It is curious that MC´s Fininho´s alter ego Cabelo (itself a nickname), uses the concept of spectacle to construct a show / album / musical performance where tangible models of sociability are manifested and a mode of production that despite being craftsmanship, precarious, with an air of bricolage, is also powerful and – unambiguously – sophisticated. These two characteristics are heavily advertised and marked on the funk culture, and because of this process of dilution and commercial advertising, they tend to be lost or displaced, resulting in what could be defined as the possibility of the gradual loss of the “aura of funk.” MC Fininho and his collaborators, impose, in a certain way, “the old order of funk,” or an identification process that is closer to the ideology and production of this culture: the Baile organized for the opening of the exhibition creates a mechanism that beyond the reification of social relations, leaves us informed about a plural, polyphonic, highly potent structure, identical to the set up of Carioca Funk.

The term “cast doubt” that I used at the beginning of the text refers in this context to an artist moving towards a character, and a Baile that at any moment prescinds from being a theatrical scene to becoming a central figure in the exhibition. The question that MC Fininho asks – how to live together and nourish these differences? – moves us to another territory: the Baile, its guests and images must be read from the perspective of the artist, not as “political artist” but as an artist who “makes art politically.” It is curious that the Baile at no point denies the elements of consumer culture, advertising or entertainment in funk – an accusation that visual arts suffers. This aspect of seduction is accentuated at all times. However, there is a radical difference in taking this stance. To bring the culture of the periphery to the art market, not with spectacular packaging, but as the show that it always was. Without makeup and false mindless speeches, nor through representing in the most naïve and easy way possible the articulations and manifestations of funk, MC Fininho exposes the sincere core of a funk that may be aggressive in speech but displays in the formation of it’s collaborative body the sense of a world that is deeply sensitive and affectionate. It is in this dubiety between the image of it and what funk really expresses, that MC Fininho builds and organizes his arsenal of images. The objects exhibited are not ways to understand the song or the literal production of what is being heard, but the composition of a network, an intermittent dialogue between sound and image, or between object and immateriality.

If we consider a function for art, it lies precisely in its ability to destabilize and critique conventional (or distorted) ways of representation and identity. So, it becomes evident in the collaborative action of MC Fininho (or Cabelo) that art has not, in fact, a positive content, but is the product of an intensely somatic form of knowledge, since projects like this “challenge us to recognize new modes of aesthetic experience and new grids for thinking about identity through the exchange of densely textured, haptic and verbal processes that occur in the interaction.” The Baile of MC Fininho invites us to realize how we engage in dialogue and see the Other, how we reprocess difference, and calls attention to the exchange itself as a creative practice and element of social exchange. Enjoying the Baile, then, is to live with differences, constitute our subjectivity, and in a mix between utopia and desire, to shape a better world. Perhaps we intuitively already knew this, but this exhibition is a proposal to clarify that the apparent outbreak and ownership of difference are the constituent parts of our culture and ourselves.

1 – I am referring to the fact that several performers, parties and nightclubs have been using the name of funk to promote themselves. What we perceive is that this (counterfeit) funk does not always correspond to the “carioca funk”, produced in the poor communities of Rio de Janeiro, and the motive of collaborative practices promoted by Cabelo for the exhibition in question. It was also noted that this style of music uses different fundamentals from the ones used by the “funk carioca”.
2 – (It’s the black sound / of the slum dweller / But when it plays no one stands still”)
3 – A “Baile” is a party in which funk music is played.
4 – We should remember that one of the products generated by the exhibition is a catalog containing a CD with the songs performed under a collaboration between Cabelo and the guest artists.
5 – Cf. KESTER, Grant H. Colaboração, arte e subculturas, in Caderno Videobrasil 2, São Paulo, Associação Cultural Videobrasil, 2006, p. 31.

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It's all lies

About the Cabelo introduces MC Fininho and DJ Barbante at Baile Funk (Gentil) Carioca exhibition

Raul Mourão

Exhibition catalog | 2011

É tudo invenção da cabeça do Cabelo. Mc Fininho não existe na vida real, é um personagem fictício, funkeiro ancestral, animador de bailes, pesquisador musical, antropólogo das biroscas, repórter das vielas e florestas e compositor de funks. dJ barbante, seu parceiro, assistente e responsável pelas bases musicais, não existe também. é um personagem coringa que esconde os inúmeros parceiros. É tudo ficção. Cabelo saiu de sua cabeça e deixou entrar Fininho, que depois tomou conta de seu corpo também. pessoas diferentes habitando a mesma mente. troca de personalidades, caboclos, entidades, espíritos do além, forças do bem.

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Na verdade a ideia da exposição funk-carioca de Mc Fininho e Dj barbante n’a Gentil começou no Cabidinho, bar 24hs que não fecha não na esquina da Mena com a Paulo Barreto. Era um grupo grande e animado ocupando algumas mesas depois da exposição do Afonso Tostes na Lurixs, Cabelo me contou que tinha uma data marcada na gentil e que queria injetar música na exposição. Partimos para a Lapa com Dado Amaral no carro para uma apresentação-relâmpago do saudoso grupo Boato. No bar Arco Íris Cabelo retomou a conversa sobre a exposição na Gentil e sugeri que ele incorporasse Mc Fininho ao repertório. Cabelo respondeu enfático: “Vamô fazê” _ e no dia seguinte esquecemos do assunto. 2 dias depois a ideia da exposição de Mc Fininho e Dj Barbante me voltou com força, liguei e convoquei Cabelo para debatermos o assunto. Nos encontramos no ateliê dele na Souza Lima na segunda dia 2 de maio e também na terça.

Matutamos e matutamos e ficou decidido que Frederico Coelho escreveria a biografia não autorizada, Felipe Scovino um texto crítico e Silvio Essinger faria uma palestra com trilha sonora sobre a breve história do funk carioca e nos deixaria também um texto. 11 parceiros seriam convocados a compor funks a partir de letras do Mc Fininho. Uma exposição com as coisas, sons e pensamentos de Fininho ocuparia a Gentil dividindo o espaço em 2 ambientes: a Caxanga de Fininho (lar/morada/dormitório/sala de estar) e o Estúdio Área de Lazer (onde o Mc grava suas músicas, recebe amigos e organiza pequenas festas). Na inauguração da exposição um grande baile/show em homenagem ao funk carioca na rua em frente à Gentil. Farra e festa. E provocação e nonsense. No final da terça, 3 de maio, começou um jogo novo e aberto, com poucas regras e muito improviso.

Os dias se passaram com o relógio em contagem regressiva atazanando nossa rotina. Um pavio curto e aceso com uma bomba no final. 11 funks produzidos em 1 semana no estúdio Jaula do Vampiro, do Rafael Rocha, no Monouaural, do Kassin e do Berna, e no computador de cada parceiro. As músicas chegaram por email. Versões, letras, correções. imagens, Aninha Tsunami, um coelho pernambucano gravador de vozes, compassos e descompassos, BPMs por telefone, arquivos wav, microfones, reverbs, dubs e cachaça. O funk ganhou vida e forma. Virou real num território de fantasia pura. Depois chegou a hora das pinturas, desenhos, objetos e fotografias. Mete tudo na kombi e parte pra gentil. Uma parede vermelha e outra preta, um desenho luminoso aparece na última hora, uma televisão toca funk (telefunken?), máquina de fumaça, cartaz lambe-lambe, fotografias da dani dacorso, o vídeo documentário “Favela on blast”, do Leandro HBL, e o “Cante um funk para um filme”, do Emílio domingos e Marcus Faustini.

Sempre enxerguei fúria, raiva e violência na obra do Cabelo. Agora vejo graça, humor, festa e farra, e também raiva e fúria como sempre. Divirtam-se com a exposição de Cabelo/Fininho/Barbante. Celebração da vida, do afeto, da alegria e contra a arte pobre, chata e medíocre que assola e emburrece nosso tempo.

PS.: Fininho manda avisar que o bagulho está só começando. ano que vem vai rolar o primeiro Festival Fininho de Funk Carioca, a Tv Fininho transmitindo 24hs de funk, disco na praça, músicas no rádio, shows pela cidade e os produtos de cama, mesa e banho…

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