Everywhere, it seems, is an hour and a half public transportation-adventure away from me. This September, by the time Tally, who was visiting Rio, and I arrived at the churrasco in Vigário Geral funk melody was pumpin. “They used to play this at the beginning of the bailes,” the organizer, Luciana, told me. “So, that’s why we’re playing this now, at the beginning.” Everyone sang along in perfectly-imitated English to all the words to freestyle, old school hip-hop, and Miami Bass tunes.
Since 2007, “Clássicos do Funk” holds a monthly encounter of MCs and funkeiros. The “Old Guard” and the new generation of MCs and DJs gather to perform and to remember. For MCs who are not booked–or rarely booked–nowadays, the encounters have been a chance to grab the mic and sing again.
Everyone brought food or bought steak, sausages, chicken and cheese on bamboo sticks to grill at the nearby market. The hostess paid for the rounds of beer and apologized for not being able to pay for all the food. MCs splashed Red Bull into flimsy, plastic cups of beer as cold as its name, Antartica, suggests.
- This year–more than others– I’ve heard DJs and MCs complain about how the radio no longer plays “quality” funk. “The radio has become very conservative. It only plays putaria now,” a DJ told me. Conservative because they only play songs about sexuality, about bodies. Yet, the radio plays the “light” or “playboy” version–rather than the “neurotic” or “heavy” version. Lyrics seem to have thinner and thinner layers of double meaning. For some, the verbal games of double-significance seem to have become more literal.
How does nostalgia shape music? Does it help imagine and construct a history? Will ten or twenty years ago always sound better than now? Is nostalgia always part of modernity, and necessary for constructing a past, a legitimating origin story?