Maga Bo- Quilombo do Futuro

I feel extremely lucky to meet Maga Bo through my fieldwork a few years ago. He is one of the most adventurous, yet deeply tranquil people I know anywhere. He has finished a new album and is seeking help with bring it into the world. I listened to a few tracks a while back when he said they were still unfinished sketches. They blew me away. More music like this needs to be made and heard.

Here are his latest “Raízes Mix” of his inspiration for the album and his KickStarter release:

Three years in the making, Maga Bo‘s Quilombo do Futuro  melds heavy afro-brazilian rhythms with the massive bass of electronic dub and studio trickery of hip hop production.  Caxambu on top of 808 kicks, alfaias punctuate dancehall ragga, swirling filtered echoes circle tamborim figures.

I’ve had the honor of working with some highly respected names in Brazilian music – BNegão and Marcelo Yuka who have been musical partners for many years, João Hermeto on percussion, Lucas Santtana, Biguli, Funkero, Gaspar from Z’Africa Brasil, Speed Freaks (RIP), Rosângela Macedo, As Meninas do Reconca Rio and some of the members of BaianaSystem as well as the heavyweight talents of US based singers Jahdan Blakkamoore and MC Zulu.

In addition to the main release, there is a hefty grip of great producers doing remixes – Stereotyp, Chancha Via Circuito, Process Rebel, Poirier, Copia Doble, Uproot Andy, Buguinha, Leo Justi, DJ Dolores, Dr. Das, Digitaldubs, Munchi, Batida.

Up until now, the production has been entirely self financed – trips to São Paulo, Salvador, taxis at 4am to carry equipment across Rio, payment for session musicians without even mentioning the equipment necessary to make the recordings.

The music is finished – I am asking for your financial help to finalize it and get it into the world.  The money will go to mastering, artwork, duplication and revamping my web presence to help spread this music.  I hope that what has been an enormous team effort and labor of love to create will come to fruition with your help.

This money does not really begin to cover the actual cost of making this record, but it does cover the last few essential things to bring this music into the world and to a wider audience.  Any money received beyond the $5000 goal will go toward music video production.

For those of you new to the Kickstarter structure, please have a look here.  It’s super important to reach the financial goal – otherwise, the project won’t receive any money at all (and, of course, your credit card won’t be charged).

Please help spread the word – post it to FaceBook, write about it on your blog, tweet it, tell your friends and family.  Your support and interest is greatly appreciated!!!  THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

QUILOMBO – an autonomous, fugitive settlement populated by ex-slaves and others in colonial Brazil.  Slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888, but many quilombos still exist (in the same locations) to this day.  Viva Zumbi!

Many, many THANKS to Fernando Salis for his help and expertise in creating and editing this video. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
MAGA BO “A travelogue considerably rougher than any Rough Guide” – SF Weekly

Having performed in India to Ethiopia to Brazil to major summer festivals across Europe to touring North America and Australia, Maga Bo is on the road nearly constantly, yet he still manages to keep up up on the production front – collaborating with Mulatu Astatke, the godfather of EthioJazz on the sound track for Lalumbe in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, creating tracks for the film Patang with Bollywood star Shilpa Rao, producing tracks for the band BaianaSystem in Salvador, Bahia, as well as releasing critically acclaimed remixes for Poirier (NinjaTune), Luisa Maita (Cumbancha), Blick Bassy (World Connection), Spy from Cairo (WonderWheel), Filastine (Post World Industries), Copia Doble (Urban World), SubSwara and Bomba Estéreo (Polen Records).

His work has brought him in confrontation with coked up, bribe-seeking policeman, inebriated clandestine taxi drivers and malaria. He has worked as a sound mixer for award-winning documentaries, presented a weekly pirate radio show in Rio de Janeiro and given a workshop on beat production in a studio housed in a shipping container in Zanzibar.

Maga Bo’s work spans the breadth of international urban bass music from hip hop and kwaito to baile funk and jungle ragga to dub, grime and dubstep with flares of samba, rai, bhangra, cumbia, skewed electronic beats and loudspeaker jitter.

Traveling often and widely, he stays weeks at a time connecting and collaborating with local musicians and vocalists. His methods are simple and effective. Armed with a laptop and a microphone, a $6 hotel room anywhere turns into a recording studio. Over time, a deep musical landscape is being creating that is the collective imprint of this community.

World music is music with truly global reach – 50 Cent, U2, Shakira. This is the other thing – emissions from the flip side where vocals recorded in one room studios on a microphone taped to a refrigerator in lieu of a stand get released on the internet and over local sound systems the same night. By the next day, the track has been sampled again by guys on the other side of the world and mashed up with whatever local concoctions they’ve got going on. Maga Bo is tapped into and part of this weird new sonic zone.

Posted in Brazil | 1 Comment

Rio Parada Funk

Originally posted on Dutty Artz:

A week before Rio Parada Funk, the largest baile funk ever, Brazil’s Institute for Historical Patrimony and National Art (IPHAN) informed the press that they were going to veto its location in the historical epicenter of Rio de Janeiro. They claimed they were worried about the effects of the bass on the windows of century old buildings like the Municipal Theatre and the National Library. A few days earlier the event’s organizers had agreed to IPHAN’s volume limits. But this agreement didn’t satisfy IPHAN. And they required the Parada to move to a different, less elegant, more blue collar street also in Centro.

Yet for years, the most popular street Carnival bloco, Cordão da Bola Preta, which last year had about 2 million participants, has marched without sound limitations along the same route.

By transforming the prestigious center of Rio into a ten sound system deep celebration, organizers of the Parada Funk would make a claim of the centrality of funk carioca and assert their rights to the city. In recent years violent police take-overs (called “pacification”) of favelas have resulted in the shutting down of many community bailes. The Parada’s taking over Rio Branco Avenue, the former route of the Carnival samba school parade, would have enacted and symbolically placed funk in the same trajectory as samba, from poor, criminalized Afro-Brazilian music to national rhythm.

Yet organizers like Mateus, who produces Eu Amo Baile Funk, urged MCs and DJs not to talk to the press about prejudice against funk but to emphasize it as a celebration. An MC responded, “Funk is equal to samba. We’re here to show that funk is culture.” The Parada, which is the first major funk event to receive funding from the state–the Secretary of Culture–would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

Dado DJ on MPC, then DJ Grazy and DJ Leo tag-team to make up for the one working CDJ

A few days before the event, the location was moved once again–this time by the city–to a huge plaza closer to Rio Branco. Workshops and lectures ran from 10 am to noon, followed by performances by 50 DJs, 40 MCs and various dancers. When I arrived a little after 12pm, speakers were still being stacked by young men who hadn’t slept since disassembling the systems for Saturday night’s parties.

Ten sound systems with walls of between forty and one hundred stacked speakers–and one made of car sound systems– rumbled through funk’s for over eight hours. The afternoon started with freestyle, electro, and Miami Bass, moved to montages (montagems) mixing funk’s North American roots with Brazilian rapping, Candomblé drum rhythms, and sampled phrases from “Bang Bang” (Brazilian Westerns) movies, and ended with stripped down, beatboxed funk of contemporary “PC generation” of DJs, who create songs with “pirated” FL Studio, Sound Forge and Acid from loops exchanged over MSN.

At Cash Box and Big Mix–with each about 100 speakers–I could not stand near my friends DJ’ing. I am used to the bass which vibrates through my skin, chest, ribs. But the good quality of their speakers brought out a fuller range. I felt like my ears might bleed. My friend, Greg, claimed he saw windows wobble.

Over time, the crowd began to swell–different newspapers reported between 14,000 to 100,000–filling the plaza and nearby street. The mass of funkeiros,dancing, listening, remembering and reenacting, affirmed the power of this changing rhythm and asserted its legitimacy within the city.

Montagem do Tango (circa 1998?)

DJ Mandrake-Aquecimento Global (2011)

Posted in BASS, Brazil, Funk Carioca, sound + space, YouTube | 4 Comments

Peace for the Pirates

Originally posted on DUTTY ARTZ

[Go to :37 to skip the song’s credit intro]

Well not “pirates” exactly, but camelô, hawkers. For years I thought street vendors were called “camels” (camelo) and wondered about the connection. And, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil the area of the largest semi-formal, pirate-media-makers/smugglers market is called the Sahara.

The lyrics in the video defend camelôs working to provide for their families and attack social inequality in Brazil and the country’s prohibitively high taxes–e.g. 60% on a foreign “luxury” item like DJ gear. The long-haired kid in red, Yuri BH, sings about how musicians fly throughout Brazil for shows because of their partnership with camelôs who publicize their music. Many MCs and DJs, who I met gave their CDs and DVDs to the camelôdromo (the “hawker-drome”) in hopes of “pirate” proliferation and distribution.

Efficient pirate sales–plus radio play and “free” sites like FunkNeurótico— may have helped catapult another of the MCs featured in the song. MC Bó do Catarina–blue hat & braces–seems to have the song right now in Rio. And he’s not even from there. Funk carioca (“funk from Rio”) as the genre’s name suggests needs to be from Rio. Artists living outside of Rio, historically, have not gained a name within the music.

Bó’s hit song, “Vida Louca Também Ama,” roughly translates to “Crazy Life Also Loves.” Like in Los Angeles “vida loca” refers to gang life. In Rocinha, the largest favela in South America, where I’m living, it’s playing on YouTube at my friends’ homes. The lyrics are on my neighbors’ lips. As I roar up the hill on a motorcycle taxi, I hear it blast from distorted speakers on corners and in front of bars. And it’s somehow this popular without fitting into either of the two currently dominant subgenres. It’s not putaria, about sex; no lyrics–like my neighbors Os Mulekes Assanhados’–cleverly manage to pun camera with getting head. And despite the “vida louca” mention it’s not proibidão, gangsta funk glorifying specific factions or telling tales of local wars.

Overall since MCs–or their impresarios/managers–often have to pay the radio monthly and tip baile funk DJs with bottles of Black Label whisky and Red Bull to get their songs played, “pirates” who distribute their music for free, i.e. without the artist having to pay, can be a good deal. The prevalence of media piracy in Brazil, however, might have contributed to the death of formally released albums of funk. Piracy might be used as an excuse by label-heads to explain to artists why they receive so little royalties and for labels not to produce official CD releases anymore. DVDs of shows are the only commodity nowadays. But as long as the quality of their music wasn’t degraded, many funkeiros said they supported pirate media distribution as a way for their music to take off through Brazil. Cheap, fast, exploding.

MC Bó do Catarina-Vida Louca Também Ama

And the newest song straight from the CDR Bó gave me to you:

Bó do Catarina-7 Vidas

Posted in Brazil, Funk Carioca, Piracy, YouTube | Leave a comment

The Second Gay Parade in the World’s “Largest Favela”

Walking up Estrada da Gavea to the Parade

“I’m going to the gay parade because my dad’s gay,” I heard from outside my window as I woke up two Sundays ago. My neighbor’s 16 year old grandson repeated this to whoever passed through our beco (alley) in Rocinha. My friends and neighbors had been buzzing about the gay parade for at least two weeks prior. People, who claimed to be homophobic, gushed about how much fun they had had and how much beer they had drunk at last year’s parade. Carros de som blasted their announcements: “Come out of the closet and come to the 2nd Gay Parade this Sunday!”

In the Gay Parade "kit": 1 t-shirt, tickets for 3 beers, 4 condoms

It was scheduled to start at 10am. The street only began to fill up around 2pm. Gay and transgendered television celebrities interviewed some of the more colorful members of public in the street before they ascended the sound truck/float. I ran into a friend who told me that Rocinha’s dono‘s (don’s) best friend was trans and had been on the sound truck earlier. Mobile vendors sold shots of tequila, honey-sweetened cachaça in plastic tubes, and ice cold beer. As I danced to Lady Gaga and Brazilian brega (“cheesy” music) coming from the sound truck, I wondered if the inclusion of “parade” was a misnomer for this street party.

As dusk descended, silver confetti rained down from the truck and someone announced that we were going to start moving. We began to mobilize in front of the truck/float, walking, dancing, and sashaying down the main street of Rocinha. We, the public, were the parade. The only audience-public not to parade were those who watched, beer in hand, from their terraces or windows.

After the S Curve, we descended down Via Appia towards the stage at the bottom of the hill. The party continued. As a friend and I went in search for a bar bathroom, we encountered two young men in the “movimento” armed with semi-automatic weapons. They each wore V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks. “You’re really pretty, like Madonna or Lady Gaga,” one told my tall, platinum blond friend “Are you actually a girl?” “Yes,” she answered, “And are you actually a boy?” He laughed and lifted his mask briefly. We returned to the thousands dancing in front of the stage, crammed with shirtless pretty boys showing off their bodies and dance moves to brega and the inevitable funk carioca.

Dressed up like Lacraia, famous gay funk dancer (RIP)
Posted in Brazil, Fotos | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment


Nice flags, TIM, but your cellphone coverage in Rocinha is terrible

A week ago as I walked besides the still-not-entirely-closed off sewer stream in Rocinha, the favela where I’ve been living in Rio de Janeiro, a truck approached. Bamboo stalks and palm fronds filled the bed of the truck. Several young boys and pre-teens with their faces streaked with black paint jumped off the truck as it slowed to a halt. They tumbled on the ground or ran wildly, crying out. I asked my friend what was happening. He answered simply, “Festa caipira,” a “country party.”

That weekend and the next this area of Rocinha, Valão, would throw its Festa Junina, a party which no one seems to be able to explain very well to me. In the rural Northeast of Brazil, this celebration trumps Carnival in popularity. Although called Festas Juninas, June Parties, the parties don’t start happening until June 24th and only happen in a big way in July. São João and São Antonio, whose saints’ days come in late June, are the main saints involved. “Junina” supposedly–although most people wouldn’t know this–derives from Joãoina, from São João. Children eat candied apples, dress up like country bumpkins, brides and grooms, or aristocrats and dance in quadrilhas to forro and other Brazilian folk music. Pyrotechnic explosions have replaced the “traditional” bonfires which people dance around. During the day, dogs bark and I try not to jump (like a gringa) whenever firecrackers boom.

In many communities in Rio, Festas Juninas have died out, no longer happen. In Rocinha, home of many Northeastern migrants, each neighborhood seems to throw its own “June” party Friday, Saturday, Sunday for two weekends. Last Friday I spent almost eight hours at two different Festas Juninas in Rocinha. At the second one, boys and girls—whose costumes were specially financed and more sparkly than most—danced quadrilhas from about 2 to nearly 4am. Rural roots were reenacted, and the past resounded in a multiply-displaced pagan party marking the summer solstice in the middle of (still tropical) winter.

Amelinha-Frevo Mulher (her famous ex-husband, Zé Ramalho, wrote & also sings this song)


Posted in Brazil, dancing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Elizabethan Book Pirates

report's cover (AFP/Getty)

A month or so ago, the Social Science Research Council published the epic report, Media Piracy in Emerging Economies. It’s distributed under a Consumer Dilemma license, part of which states that it’s:

  • US$8 for non-commercial use in high-income countries—a list that for the present purposes includes the USA, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, Israel, Singapore, and several of the Persian Gulf States (Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Brunei, and Bahrain), but not Canada.
  • Free for non-commercial use outside the above-listed high-income countries.*

* means that for once having a Brazilian IP address actually helped me out–unlike if I were to attempt other forms of IP legitimate access via iTunes or Netflix.

The license goes on to define its terms before cheekily ending with “For those who must have it for free anyway, you probably know where to look.”

These 440 pages are almost a “BRIC” report; it focuses on Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa with shorter chapters on Bolivia, Mexico and history of book piracy. My favorite chapters were Lawrence Liang and Ravi Sundaram‘s on India and Bodó Balázs’ “Coda: A Short History of Book Piracy.”

Google's best attempt for the search Victorian Book Pirates

Partly because “the Elizabethan Book Pirates” sounds so damn catchy, here is a lengthy excerpt:

“In sixteenth century England, Elizabeth I granted monopoly privileges to select publishers over such basic texts as the Bible, alphabet books, almanacs, books of grammar, and law books. These steady-selling, high-volume texts were exceptionally valuable to publishers. Many of the smaller publishers were locked out of these lucrative markets, making it very difficult to earn a living, raise capital, buy manuscripts, or secure copyrights. With rights to the best texts doled out as political favors, this period saw the emergence of a class of impoverished printers, struggling to stay in business with more obscure texts.

Tensions between wealthy and poor printers increased over time and eventually degenerated into a publishing war. Poor publishers began to pirate protected books in large numbers and militate for a more egalitarian distribution of privileges. Because the prices of authorized copies were kept high, the black-market book trade was very profitable. Even in a context of high risk in which homes of suspected pirates were routinely searched, illegally printed copies confiscated, and printing machines destroyed, illegal publishing proved impossible to suppress.

Roger Ward’s case illustrates the scale of the conflict. In 1581/2, Ward confessed to illegally printing 10,000 alphabet books—a massive number in an era in which 1,500 copies was considered a large print run (Judge 1934:48–49). Other records cite similar figures: 4,000 psalm books printed in a ten-month period; 10,000 more alphabet books printed in eight months. Another record of the work of eleven printers lists 10,000 alphabet books and 2,000 psalm books printed and sold in less than a year. Such sales were significant enough to seriously disrupt the legal market.”                                          (Balázs 402-403)

Posted in Academic, Books | 2 Comments

Death, Taxi Driver Knowledge, and Huaynos

Reposted from my entry on Dutty Artz:

Chimu Pots Representing Decapitated Heads (Museo del Larco, Cusco)

“They’re widows,” the woman standing behind the till explained. I had spotted the two viudas, Rosita and Ricardina, dancing slowly to the huaynos playing on the speakers. This was one of those tiny stores that seem to sell everything.  On this Saturday, I stopped in to ask the way to the one discoteca in Ollantaytambo—one of longest continuously occupied settlements in Peru. The town lies on the banks of thw Orubamba River, which runs through the Sacred Valley. Agricultural terraces (“andenes”)—from the age of the Incas—slice through the steep sides of the Andes. Inca stone houses, temples, and look out posts dot the mountainsides. An hour-long train ride would bring you to Macchu Pichu.

Rosita swayed with her liter bottle of Pilsen beer; Ricardina grabbed my hands in her rough hands, teaching me how to step and slowly spin around to this popular folk music. A shrill voice sang of how dead mothers, traitorous lovers to saccharine cascades of the harp.

“Somos campesinas,” the women repeated. “We’re peasants.” Ricardina told me she was 30 and had three children, and that Rosita was 35 and had five children. They each looked at least ten years older than they said. Rosita handed me their glass and poured me a cup of their beer.

Before leaving, I asked the shop owner if she sold huayno CDs. She began leafing through a stack of her own burned CD-Rs. “Here, this is another copy of who we’re listening to.” She handed over a CD marker-scrawled “Alicia Delgado” to me. I asked her the cost. “Whatever you feel like,” she answered. I handed her two sol coins.

A couple days later on a drive between Cusco and Pisaq, our taxi driver was playing huayno from a USB stick connected to his car stereo. The USB stick dangled where a rosary or pine-tree-shaped air freshener might hang. I told him that I had bought an MP3-CD of Alicia Delgado. “She dead now,” he intoned, “She was murdered in her home. Someone tortured her first.” He said this was never solved, but guessed it probably had to do with money since she was rich.

In Lima, a few days later, after stopping in at my favorite stand at the used LP market, Galeria Quilca, I mentioned Alicia to another taxi driver, a friend of a friend. “Yeah, she was murdered by her girlfriend,” he said in California-accented English. “Abencia Meza also sings folkloric music. She was a better singer and made Alicia famous too, but then Alicia cheated on her with her harpist.”

“Abencia is out of jail now and has a new girlfriend. In Lima, you know, you can get someone to kill for you. There are places, neighborhoods to go to. You can get someone to kill for $50,” my driver told me. “That’s why I’m friends with everyone,” he smiled. “It’s much better that way.”

Alicia Delgado-Regresa Madre

Alicia Delgado-En Una Noche de Luna

Posted in Folklorica Princess, Peru | 1 Comment