By Maíra Amorim, Contributing Reporter

Alerj on August 25, photo by Érica Ramalho.
Alerj on August 25, photo by Érica Ramalho.

RIO DE JANEIRO – In 2008, Rio’s former deputy governor Álvaro Lins approved law 5.265 which established special rules for rave and baile funk parties. The law stated that the police could forbid such parties regardless of municipal authorization if the events failed to meet safety regulations.

Such action against these two musical genres proved to be a major talking point for Cariocas, and was even responsible for the creation of Apafunk – Associação de Profissionais e Amigos do Funk (Association of Professionals and Friends of Funk). The Association joined forces with state deputy Marcelo Freixo (PSOL) and they are on the verge of withdrawing Law 5.265 and approving a new one in its place which recognizes funk as a “cultural manifestation”.

The laws were debated last Tuesday August 25, at the Assembleia Legislativa do Rio de Janeiro, ALERJ, in what was an historical meeting and victory for the funk movement.

The session was presided by Marcelo Freixo and included Fernanda Abreu (singer), Hermano Vianna (anthropologist), Adriana Rattes (Secretary of Culture), Teresa Porto (Secretary of Education), Adriana Facina (anthropologist) and Chico Alencar (deputy, PSOL), among others.

The group discussed the importance of funk and of withdrawing Law 5.265 which they described as “nonsensical” and “absurd”. The most amazing thing however was that the ALERJ plenary was full of “funkeiros” (funk musicians) and representatives of social movements. Many of them were there for the first time.

MC Leonardo, photo by Érica Ramalho.
MC Leonardo, photo by Érica Ramalho.

“This is a very moving and historical moment, especially to see so many people here for the first time,” said MC Leonardo, who has been working on funk for seventeen years and is the president of Apafunk. He finished his speech by singing a very political song including the lyrics “everything is wrong, it is hard to even explain”.

Other funkeiros sang at various moments, a very unusual occurence in parliament.

The withdrawal of Law 5.265 and the new law’s approval will be voted on September 1. “This is important not only for funk, but also for Rio,” said Marcelo Freixo, the co-author of both laws.

The new legislation is key as it will stop funk from being treated as a police responsibility. It will no longer be handled by Public Security and instead will be transferred to the Department of Culture and Education. “We need clear and permanent rules to take care of funk. The movement is responsible for the circulation of almost R$10 Million per month,” said Hermano Vianna.

Carioca funk was born in the 90s in the favelas and it didn’t take long before it became mainstream. In 1996, it had spread from the favelas to middle-class and elite clubs. Panic ensued in the media about this class breakthrough and many believe this led to the approval of law 5.265 in 2008. Opposition to the law states that simply because the music originated in the favelas it is considered to be of low quality and is blamed for violence.

This is similar to what happened to samba in the 40s, and the genre is now praised as the true expression of Brazilian music. It was also the subject of criticism and repression and originated in the favelas. “In Brazil and in Rio we have a history of oppression towards black culture. How much would have been lost if the voices of samba had been quietened?”, questioned Adriana Facina.

Since its birth, funk as a musical genre has had its ups and downs. Lyrics about love and politics were replaced by those about sex, drugs and violence in the mid-2000s. It should also be noted that funk parties in favelas are often overseen by glamorized traficantes (drug traffickers) sporting automatic weapons while they dance to the music, and are often attended by minors.

“Funk is democratic and for that we pay a high price. For the withdrawing of law 5.265 and the approval of the one recognizing our movement as culture, we have to gather forces and find out on our own what is best for funk,” said MC Leonardo.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I quite like its rhythm and absolutely dread some of the lyrics, which are akin to the most violent and/or x rated raps.

    What funkeiros seem to miss though, is that because they like funk, everybody else doesn’t have to like or listen to it.

    I live high up Santa Teresa and in the valley bellow me they hold a funk party sometimes over the weekend, and often it can be the WHOLE weekend. Even if I sleep with foam ear plugs, I still can hear the blooming funk loud and clear. Sleeping?! Well this is something rather difficult to do during these parties.

    Why can’t people simply coexist?

    Also some stuff is definitely not for minors and democracy doesn’t mean to make a mess or being disrespectful towards others. If respect to the neighborhood was observed from the start, the said law would probably not have been made in the first place.

    I think in Brazil sometimes people “mix the balls” as we cariocas like to say, at times, the political discourse doesn’t fit so snugly. Can the reason behind something be much simpler?

    Luckily the funk party it is not every weekend!!!

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