Beat Diaspora: Beats, Buses, Bricks

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

Monday, November 17, 2008

Returns

O Cabidão caught an overnight flight to Rio on Saturday, rather gladly saying farewell to the U.S. and returning to "a minha terra, o meu Brasil!" Too cold, volume too low, clubs too small (and my basement not the nicest place to live either, granted). After three weeks as the ad-hoc tour manager of the first non-Marlboro DJ to play for American audiences, I now have a more realistic perspective on the viability of bridging the divide between global ghettotechnicians and their northern fans, at least in the case of funk carioca, really completing the circle from wide-eyed onlooker to direct intervener.

I don't want to declare the tour a failure. There were plenty of highlights: Global Frequency, MoFo Radio, Invasores do Baixo, Mudd Up!, TTL in-store, Batida do Funk. And the tour really brought out the best of some fine folks like wayne&wax, Lone Wolf, DJ Ghostdad, and DJ Comrade, all of whom put their time/money/effort/talent into collaborating. Kosta of Bananas even used his west coast contacts to score a show in Seattle on three days notice.

Still, a tour remains an economic proposition, and one that fell fairly flat. It seems that playing the Brazuca circuit (Hyannis, Newark, Bridgeport, Boston, etc.) pays for the plane ticket and is a prerequisite to being able to afford other shows for the knowing gringos. Unfortunately, this means Brazuca crowds will also be driving who gets brought up. Most are not carioca, but from other, poorer states in Brazil, and get their funkeiro fandom from the web, where heartthrobs like Mulher Melancia (the Watermelon Lady) are the top draw. Cabide, in fact, was a relative unknown, so he didn't bring out the Brazilians en masse in New England.

While this tour was a half-and-half proposition, in the future I expect funk DJs and MCs to mostly play for the brasileiros and then, if possible, an interested party like myself, the Boston Bouncers, Xão Productions, or Masala (who had expressed interest, but we had some visa issues) will cobble something together.

The "Batida do Funk" party by Xão at S.O.B.'s was, admittedly, my favorite of the tour. To trot out an old cliche, in the melting pot of New York we were able to find the mixture of gringos in the know, global music aficionados, and plain old Brazilians to make the show a real crossover audience. The addition of Brazilian dancers and a baile funk slideshow by Vincent Rosenblatt of Agência Olhares made for an odd refraction.


Dancers juxtaposed with the image of dancers. A baile funk americano (Cabide repeatedly referred to shows as "bailes") juxtaposed with a baile funk carioca. We were both interviewed for the upcoming film Beyond Ipanema, about Brazilian music in the U.S., whose directors were in the audience. I was unable to tell who was Brazilian and who was American. It's difficult math when a club that serves $10 caipirinhas can't pay the DJ as much as a favela in Rio can, but that's the strange inversion for you. Who mediates, who performs, who speaks (Cabide was mute without English and I was left to translate for film, radio, conversation). He opened for Diplo on the penultimate show of the Mad Decent tour, playing the first set even before some indie band from Brooklyn came on. The headliner later worked in a tamborzão, but he was temporally separated as much as possible from the real performer. Worried about being upstaged the next night, cutting the volume, sucking the life out of the music. Metaphor and fact. Who controls and who performs. The tours are over, but the film will linger.

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