9 Artists Leading Brazil’s New Generation Of Funkeiros

The most exciting voices in Brazil’s favela-born funk in 2016.

August 04, 2016
9 Artists Leading Brazil’s New Generation Of Funkeiros Karol Conka "É o Poder" video screenshot

From the kinetic, tongue-in-cheek bars of MC Bin Laden, to Karol Conka’s fearlessly political dance music, MCs are rapidly changing the musical landscape of Brazil in 2016. Many of the current wave of artists rap openly about the daily realities of living in the overpopulated Brazilian favelas, reacting to — and resisting against — poverty and marginalization. While their self-expression has long been frowned upon by the conservative media and authorities of Brazil, the viral hype and, in some cases, global popularity of these rising young funkeiros can’t be ignored.

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Since the 1980s, the music of many of Brazil's most daring artists has been rooted in the favela-born sound of baile funk. Today, it's evolved into many different strands, each defined by a distinct sound and lyrical concerns. The glossier-sounding subgenre of funk ostentação flashily displays symbols of wealth and status, while the dirtier, Miami bass-inspired funk proibidão is paired with lyrics which engage with gang violence and police brutality. Meanwhile, funk putaria is a more sexually explicit twist on the genre, with a sensual sound springing from the feverish, free-for-all funk parties of Rio. Today’s young MCs tend to dabble in multiple variations on these subgenres, cherry-picking characteristics from each musical style.

As the world’s gaze turns towards Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics, The FADER highlights 9 of the best young MCs at the forefront of this new generation of Brazilian funk.


1. MC Bin Laden

The first time you heard the boisterous funk proibidão of MC Bin Laden might have been when he remixed Kelela’s “Rewind” in 2015. But the 22-year-old São Paulo artist — real name Jefferson Cristian Do Santos de Lima — went viral in his home country way before that with a string of viral hit singles, including the gunfire-sampling, high-octane “BOLOLO HAHA.” After referencing famed Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho in the choreography for his bombastic hit “Ta Tranquilo Ta Favoravel,” Bin Laden even had a brush with the man himself, who in turn performed the song with the MC on TV. Bin Laden’s eyebrow-raising name choice has caused him U.S. visa problems, but he’s far from a genuine threat. In fact, he claims that it’s all an act, and is a self-professed evangelical Christian.

2. MC Pikachu

Dias de lutas , Dias de glória . #BOMDIA #ILov3Favela #choquenelas⚡️

A photo posted by Mc Pikachu (@mcpikachuoficial) on

MC Pikachu is 16-year-old Matheus Sampaio Correa, the younger cousin of MC Bin Laden, whose QT moniker is taken from the beloved Nintendo game. He joined the funk scene last year at age 15 with the festive “Jingle Bells”-sampling “Feliz Natal!,” featuring MC Bin Laden and São Paulo’s rising viral star MC 2K. After that, it didn’t take long for Pikachu to blow up. His DIY video for “Lá No Meu Barraco,” which has 25 million views to date, epitomizes his goofball charm: he builds and paints a shack only to knock it down after he takes a bikini-clad woman inside. A preview of his most recent offering “I Love Favela,” meanwhile, shows him riding high on luxury car bonnets on rooftops. These days, after all, he has DJ fans playing his tunes internationally, running the spectrum from Diplo to Evian Christ.

3. Karol Conka

💣

A photo posted by Karol Conka (@karolconka) on

The music of Karol Conka, an MC based in Brazil’s largest southern city, Curitiba, delivers a message of protest with a party-starting flow. As she put it in a 2015 interview with Afropunk, “Music for me is a kind of resistance to many forms of prejudice that I have suffered in life [for] being black, female, and poor.” Drawing from the raw percussive rhythms of Afro-Brazilian batucada, as well as hip-hop and baile funk, her songs deal in self-esteem and confidence. After gaining a solid following with her 2013 debut Batuk Freak, her recent track “Tombei” takes its title from the Portuguese expression to “Topple” or mark your territory, while her latest single “É O Poder,” translates roughly to “It’s The Power.” After listening to Conka, you’re left in little doubt who’s in charge.

4. MC Livinho

Boa 🆑👨🏾

A photo posted by Mc Livinho (@mc_livinho) on

Since beginning his musical career as a violinist in a church at age 9, Oliver Santos’s musical identity has taken a 180 turn. His first song as MC Livinho, at the age of 16, was the fairly self-explanatory “Mulher Kama Sutra” ["Women Kama Sutra"], which somehow manages to sound seductive while sampling the famous 1876 orchestral piece "In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Now, the 21-year-old MC from São Paulo has a playboy image that makes him something like a Brazilian answer to Justin Bieber, specializing in his own brand of “erotic-romantic,” ostentação-based funk.

5. MC Pedrinho

14-year-old Pedro Maia from São Paulo — better known as MC Pedrinho — blew up after his irrepressible collaboration with MC Livinho, “Dom Dom Dom,” became a national hit. Since he started MCing at the age of 12, he’s gained a reputation for the R-rated content of his lyrics – even if his voice hasn't quite dropped yet. Despite being threatened with censorship and having his shows cancelled by Brazilian authorities, his success has reaped such financial rewards that his mom has been able to quit her job as a maid.

6. MC Soffia

❤👑❤

A photo posted by MC Soffia (@mcsoffia) on

She may be just 12 years old, but independent rap artist MC Soffia is already a feminist role model, speaking out against racism with an aim to empower Afro-Latina girls. In “Menina Pretinha,” she effervescently raps, I’m black and I’m proud of my color in Portuguese over light synths and a snarling bassline. In a 2015 interview, she said, "They say [black girls] are ugly because they are black. They shouldn’t accept that…Do not be ashamed." Soffia’s currently raising money for her first album through a campaign on Brazilian crowdfunding platform Kickante, so donate here.

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7. Flora Matos

Hailing from Brazil’s capital city Brasília, Flora Matos first broke onto the scene with her debut mixtape Flora Matos vs Stereodubs back in 2010. It introduced her woozy, lo-fi hip-hop beats as well as her ability to flip between dreamy vocal hooks and fast-spitting bars. For her harder side, listen to her #FreeGucci posse cut from earlier this year; for a taste of her softer side, see the video for the melancholy, acoustic “Comofaz.”

8. MC Brinquedo

São Paulo-based MC Brinquedo, with his pink and blue hair, mischievous charisma, and playful singing, was unmissable when he first appeared in MC Bin Laden’s “TchuPlin TchuPlin” video in 2015. Since then, Brinquedo’s music has already gained the approval of Björk herself, who played one of his tracks in a DJ set in New York last year. On songs like “Roça Roça,” he exuberantly details his sex life over a thudding, blown-out beat — although he does also have a song called "Viciei no Minecraft" [“Since I Got Addicted to Minecraft”], which shows he’s a typical 14-year-old after all.

9. Diamond
9 Artists Leading Brazil’s New Generation Of Funkeiros Patrick Oliveira

With a winning combination of venomous bars and a DGAF attitude, rap trio Diamond — fka Pearls Negras — warp funk carioca with trap rhythms and club beats to create a fierce, heavy-hitting sound. Formed of Alice Coelho, Mariana Alves, and Jennifer Loiola, three 18-year-olds from Rio’s Vidigal favela, the group first attracted worldwide attention when they released their Biggie Apple and Nossa Gang mixtapes in 2014. In their 2015 video for the burbling-bass tune “Meu Bem” (roughly translated to “my dear”), the three teens breezily stomp down the boardwalk, swing by a pickup basketball game, and walk into the ocean, owning every single frame. They've been quietly working in the studio for the past year, with new material due very soon.

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