Beat Diaspora: Beats, Buses, Bricks

an omnivorous take on music of the beat-based variety and the urban spaces that nurture it

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ela gostou de baile funk

Casi from Flamin Hotz directed me last night to the Mad Decent blog, where with tremendous surprise and utter shock I learned that Adriana Pittigliani has passed away. I hadn't the faintest idea that she had cancer, as admittedly we haven't spoken much since last August, following a dispute about a DJ gig and disagreements over the Flamin Hotz CD. These arguments seem petty now, and in fact I had recently written her a letter to accompany her copy of the CD, in hopes that it would serve as a springboard to patch things up. She was one of the examples of how the transition from wide-eyed researcher and inquisitor to representative of a record label, however small and independent, unfortunately compromised social relationships. But I still recall with clarity the long discussions in her Flamengo apartment, overlooking Pão de Açúcar, where she chain smoked cigarettes and held something of a funk carioca salon. Adriana was one of the first points of contact for any foreigner coming to Rio with an interest in funk, from Diplo to Daniel Haaksman, British party promoters, Swedish journalists, Québécois radio DJs, or someone with an academic inquiry like myself.

As a middle-class white woman, she seemed a strange fit for a relentlessly young and predominately black scene built from the ground-up in favelas far from the tony high-rises of Flamengo. But I think her attraction began, in part, with her photographer's eye. (Her site no longer works, but if you get the Flamin Hotz CD, you can see her excellent work on the Carioca Funk Clube artist photos.) The movimento funk is a whirlwind of humanity at its most exuberant, and certainly she must have been drawn to photographic compositions rich with sweat and bodies, color and movement. She had a feminist tilt to her experience as a funkeira as well, and she frequently recounted a transformative experience back in 2004 in Vila Mimosa, the red light district of Rio, throwing a baile with a group of prostitutes -- not to drum up clients, just to enjoy. She saw something parallel in attitudes and mores, a thumbing of the nose at decency, in Vila Mimosa and the favelas where bailes are king.

Moving from grande dame of funk, making connections between foreigners and high-profile local DJs and MCs, to the manager of a "house of artists" (Casi's words) in Carioca Funk Clube, chief among them DJ Sany Pitbull, I kept wondering why Adriana dedicated so much time and energy to putting together tours, sending out promo tracks, and scouring the web (her imprint was everywhere -- MySpace, blogs, Wiki) to relentlessly promote CFC -- sometimes, in my opinion, at the expense of the movimento funk as a whole, which I began to think she didn't have a whole lot of respect for. Regardless of my personal gripes, she was decidedly on a mission, and certainly was promoting something new and exciting. It was not for nothing that Hermano Vianna, veritable written authority on funk (cf O Mundo Funk Carioca, c. 1988), called Sany's "Funk Alemão," and by extension the CFC aesthetic, "pós-baile funk."

Adriana's goal, I eventually realized, was to "break" funk the way that her father, Armando Pittigliani, had in part "broken" bossa nova. According to the Cravo Albin Dictionary of Brazilian Popular Music, he "was one of the ones responsible for the first releases by several bossa nova artists." I can't prove it, but I believe the royalties from those early albums, or at least his success as an A&R guy in the Brazilian music industry over the decades, in part allowed Adriana to have such a nice apartment in Flamengo without holding down a steady, full-time job (not that she didn't, I'm sure, earn her own keep from photography). And, in turn, she used the time bought by her father's success to pursue her era's own Brazilian popular music.

I never spoke with her directly about this idea, just inferred it from my own experiences talking with her and with Maga Bo, who introduced me to her and offers his own thoughtful tribute. She was truly a linchpin between Rio and the rest of the world, for me included. She was part of the encouragement that got me to my first baile, and I acknowledged her (as well as cited our interviews) in my thesis.

In a still burgeoning enterprise -- the dissemination of funk carioca abroad -- an essential fulcrum, and the opportunities that came with her, have been lost.

Genesis 1962 [from the now defunct Pitti Podcast, but the only hint she gave of nodding to her past]

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At 6/22/2008 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a little bit misunderstood about her history ...

That nice apartment, in Flamengo, came from her mother´s money, which, supported her financially her whole life, as everybody know it ...

The musical influence, the musical taste might have come from her father ... the rest, no ...

Her mom was the one tha was there the whole time, including, raising her son for her ...

But, as you said, that picture is just a hint for her past ...

At 6/22/2008 9:48 PM, Blogger gregzinho said...

Thank you for sharing -- it's not something I asked her about (or felt comfortable asking her about), but I had always wondered.


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