Black Rio: The rise of black music and dances and the interpretation of black American Soul music in Brazil
A brief chronology of the history of Soul Funk tupiniquim (Brazuca).
Wanting to be fair I make it clear that everything related materials was taken from newspapers, books and magazines.
What I propose is a reflection on the subject since with the trivialization of the meaning of Funk Original in modern times, the question remains;
Does all this which was built by both the “Gringos” as the “Brazucas” did not deserve a little respect?
Leave your comment!
“Black Rio: Brazilian soul”
In order to understand the importance of this phenomena in the 1970’s, one must have an understanding of what this music and culture meant in Brazil at the time. During the American-American struggle for equality in the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, Soul, R&B and Funk music became the soundtrack of that movement. Spearheaded by the likes of James Brown, Aretha Franklin, the Sound of Philadelphia, the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Marvin Gaye and a host of other singers, musicians and bands, this music also captured the imagination and aspirations of a black Brazilian population who had always been taught they were simply Brazilians and that race didn’t matter in their country. It would have an example to be followed for all multi-racial, multi-cultural societies around the world had the idea of a “racial democracy” been true. The result was perhaps an even more efficient brand of racism than that of the US or South Africa. It was the perfect plan. Exclude an entire population of African descendants from access to the same things that white Brazilians had all the while denying the very real existence of racial discrimination. Proclaim that all Brazilians were equal while whiter Brazilians viciously demeaned physical attributes of their darker countrymen who didn’t have a European appearance.
Taken from 1976 article “Black Rio” by Lena Frias
Another facet of this racial exclusion was the appropriation of cultural productions that were creations of black Brazilians so that the entire nation could participate in this culture thus denying a clear identity from the group that faced extreme social exclusion. Samba, for example, is a musical genre that is generally accepted as an Afro-Brazilian development. While Brazil’s elites rejected this style as a “coisa do negro (thing of the black or black thing)”, they would soon see in it the perfect vehicle that would act as the unifying theme of the nation (along with soccer). Thus, white society could simultaneously participate in a black creation that unified the nation but still look down upon and exclude the people responsible for this music.
Taken from 1976 article “Black Rio” by Lena Frias
In black American Soul music, many black Brazilians heard and celebrated a style that they felt they could identify with even though the vast majority of them didn’t understand the lyrics. The images of the performance of this music was often described as “liberating” by many black Brazilians who, at that point in time (and some would argue even today), had long been indoctrinated to have shame in the texture of their hair and other physical attributes that denoted African ancestry. Even today, one can find many black Brazilians would remembered developing their racial consciousness and pride because of this imported music coming out of black America. Read on and enjoy this fascinating discovery of a “hidden treasure” of transcontinental cultural import/export between black America and black Brazil.
Black Rio: Brazilian soul and DJ culture’s lost chapter” by Allen Thayer
July 17, 1976 Jornal do Brasil article entitled, “Black Rio – o orgulho (importado) de ser negro no Brasil (the (imported) pride of being black in Brazil)” by Lena Frias
“The Black Rio movement was born there in Astoria, in Catumbi. The parties were 100% soul. Before Black music, all the people had was soccer, samba, and juvenile rock and roll. Just an idiotic chorus of ‘la, la, la.’” (1) –Mr. Funk Santos, DJ
It took nearly thirty years, but thanks to the flood of books and documentaries celebrating the pioneering DJs and turntablist wizards, the DJ now has a spot in the history of popular music. Historians rightly point out that DJ culture’s deepest and healthiest roots are located in the U.S. and the U.K., with a long offshoot planted in Jamaica. Possibly due to lack of exposure, or the obvious language barrier, these cultural historians rarely looked beyond the English-speaking world. In doing so, they overlooked a number of important Southern-hemisphere hot spots, such as West Africa and, the focus of this article, Black Rio. In the late 1960s and early ’70s, Brazilian DJs started a musical and racial revolution whose funky backbeat still has heads nodding today. With its origins in Rio de Janeiro, the sound of Black Rio confronted the dictatorship’s stranglehold on politics and society, while spreading the gospel of all things funky from Argentina to the Amazon. It left in its wake a new, modern Black consciousness, Afro hairstyles, and an impressive catalog of Brazilian soul and funk records.
Participants at a 1970s Black Rio dance
Sir Dema & Clube do Soul
I tried to repress the sneaking suspicion that this was all an elaborate prank on an overly enthusiastic gringo. Having spent more than an hour and a half in buses and taxis to get to Bangu, a lower-class neighborhood in the far reaches of sprawling Rio de Janeiro, I was starting to believe that the address that the leader of the Rio De Janeiro–based Clube do Soul gave me revealed nothing but an open-air diner. I asked a waitress if she knew of a festa de soul. She pointed towards the stairs in the back of the restaurant, which led up to a balcony.
As I rounded the stairs, a middle-aged, light-skinned Black man dressed head to toe in white linen greeted me from behind the turntables. This was Dema, or Sir Dema as he was billed this night, one of the more active members of Clube do Soul, an appreciation society dedicated to keeping the music and spirit of Black Rio alive. Heatwave’s “Super Soul Sister,” Tim Maia’s “Que Beleza,” Joss Stone’s “Super Duper Love,” and other known and unknown (and mostly U.S.) soul and funk nuggets filled Sir Dema’s all 7-inch set.
Tony Tornado and Tim Maia album covers
A Lyn Collins, a Jimmy “Bo” Horne, and several absurdly cold beers later, Dema introduced me to Paulinho “Black Power,” one of the guest DJs that night. Just to clarify, Paulinho “Black Power” is White. The “surname” comes from his DJ crew, or equipe do som. Paulinho recalled the heyday when the Black Power equipe played for thousands, with gigs nearly every night of the week. Later, the conversation turned to the origins of soul music in Brazil and Big Boy, who they explained was the first DJ to play soul music on the radio, the first to throw soul parties in Rio, and the first to promote twenty-four-hour radio programming. In Dema’s roughly translated words, “Damn! That dude was the shit!”
A Heavy Party
“I would like to be compared like this, to Elvis Presley. I think that for the youth of Rio I was more or less what Elvis Presley was for the United States” (2) –Big Boy
Overweight, asthmatic, White, and with the given name of Newton Duarte, Big Boy would seem an unlikely place to begin our story of the Brazilian soul revolution. Beginning in Rio in 1966, Big Boy launched a one-man crusade to turn on his fellow Brazilians to the hottest sounds from around the world, taking adventurous Brazilian listeners down both Abbey and Hot Pants Roads. Through syndication, he mounted a coordinated attack on the country’s smaller cities, slowly breaking down their resistance to this new, heavy sound. When told by a radio director in Belo Horizonte that the Led Zeppelin song he played was too weird, he returned fire with a blast of Jackson 5 followed by a reassuring dose of Trini Lopez. “But you’ll see,” he says, “within five shows, I’ll play Traffic, Steppenwolf, the Move, and the resistance will become less and less as I infiltrate them with these great songs.”
Gerson King Combo and Banda Black Rio album covers
Big Boy’s success on air naturally translated to a happening weekly party in the chic Zona Sul area of Rio. Pop music fans of all varieties flocked to Big Boy’s parties to hear his mix of rock, psych, soul, and whatever else he felt like playing. For him, it was all the same as long as it was “heavy.” Given that soul music was not being played anywhere else, Big Boy’s Baile da Cueca (“Underpants Dance”) party became the de facto ground zero for the coming Black Rio scene.
Big Boy’s parties adhered to the sonic-smorgasbord school of DJing, showcasing everything from Yes to Wilson Pickett. While across town, Ademir Lemos’s weekly party, named after the venue, Le Bateau, quickly emerged as the place to be for Rio’s soul and funk fanatics. Style-wise, Ademir borrowed heavily from the flower-power aesthetic of San Francisco, and he was one of the first cats in Brazil to sport an Afro, despite being racially ill-equipped for the hairstyle. Where Big Boy’s sets would be all over the place, Ademir’s sound was much more focused, concentrating on early funk and chunky rock tunes with heavy backbeat. With his hip style, trendsetting musical selections, and an intense love of the party, Ademir was sketching out the blueprint for a successful Black Rio baile, or dance.
Ademir’s other major contributions were his excellent compilation LPs. Contrary to the accepted assertion that Disco Gold and Gloria Gaynor’s Never Can Say Goodbye (both mixed by disco re-mixer Tom Moulton) were the first LPs to feature songs played back to back to create a non-stop, disco-like experience, Ademir released his first of four compilation albums in 1970, predating these American landmarks by five years. For Ed Motta, keeper of the Brazilian funk flame and nephew to Brazil’s number-one soul brother Tim Maia, Ademir’s selections still surprise. “Actually, he has some records from these sessions that are very hard to find, independently released soul and funk [45s], like the DJ Shadow compilations [Brain Freeze with Cut Chemist]. People don’t know, for example that some DJs from these days used to travel using cheap chartered flights, flying thirty-five hours to buy records [in the U.S.], then coming back to Brazil.” (3)
1970s Black Rio
Le Bateau drew such a crowd that Ademir was able to move the gigs to the legendary Canecão concert hall in Rio’s wealthy Zona Sul area. Recognizing Big Boy’s growing popularity and potential draw, Ademir invited him to join his party. By this point, the Baile da Pesada, or “Heavy Dance,” showcased a funkier sound and drew thousands of young White and Black cariocas to dance to the DJ duo’s imported records. Ademir summarized his influence in a 1977 interview:
“It all started with my love. I was passionate about “funky” and decided to spread it. But the thing really started when the soul began to be played and the people started to dig Kool and the Gang, James Brown, and Wilson Pickett. Then it broke at the Baile da Pesada at Canecão. It was a party that brought people from the north and south zones [of Rio de Janeiro]. There wasn’t discrimination between Black and White; it was the real deal, with real soul.” (4)
União Black and Dom Mita album covers
In the opening years of the ’70s, the Baile da Pesada dominated the “funky” world of Rio de Janeiro; that is, until the club got an offer to host Roberto Carlos, Brazil’s equivalent to Elvis, for an extended engagement, leaving the party homeless. Ademir went against conventional wisdom and relocated the party to the considerably poorer and Blacker northern suburbs of Rio, known as Zona Norte. Zona Norte proved to be a perfect choice for several reasons: it was predominantly Black, and it also had dozens of large venues, regularly used for samba school rehearsals and ideal for hosting parties for up to five thousand people. Having heard some of these new soul tunes on Big Boy’s radio shows, the poor, Black kids from Zona Norte were now getting their chance to dance to these sounds every weekend.
Like most pioneers, Ademir’s success was quickly eclipsed by the next generation, eager to improve on the prototype. Competition sprung up all over Zona Norte, now organized as DJ crews, or equipes de som. Like Jamaica’s mobile DJ sound systems that originated in the early ’60s, these homemade sound systems were generally owned by a local businessman, and operated by an underpaid and anonymous team of DJs. Ed Motta might have still been in diapers then, but his research revealed that “they used to listen to loads of American soul and funk and some things that were playing in the northern-soul scene, like some hard-to-find [releases] by Reality, Cane and Able, and Mickey Murray.” Ademir’s monopoly on the funk came to an end. By the late ’70s, the market now flooded with equipes, such as: Soul Grand Prix, Black Power, Mr. Funk Santos, A Cova, Petru’s, Dynamic Soul, Um Mente Numa Boa, Tropa Bagunça, Cashbox, Soul Layzer, Furacão 2000, Mind Power, complimented by celebrity bailes hosted by Ademir, Big Boy, or the famous DJ and TV host, Messiê Limá. Some of these equipes, most notably Furacão 2000, are still active and successful today.
Brazilian Soul Vaccination
Whether young Brazilians were buying import soul and funk albums, going to the bailes in Zona Sul or Norte, or tuning in to Big Boy’s show, the sound was infectious, and it was only a matter of time before local musicians integrated these new sounds into their repertoire.
A discussion of modern Brazilian Black music isn’t complete without mentioning Jorge Ben. Ben emerged at the tail end of the bossa nova wave with his anthemic “Mas Que Nada,” almost single-handedly paving the way for a harder, rootsier sound that was as indebted to bossa nova as it was to pop. By the end of the decade, he had recorded with the tropicalia producer Rogerio Duprat, tropicalists Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethânia, and Gal Costa, as well as rocker Erasmo Carlos. Ben was also forging an exciting new sound with the stripped-down and funky Trio Mocotó.
Bailes Funk in Rio de Janeiro
Despite his funky tendencies, and being from Rio himself, Jorge Ben is rarely associated with the Brazilian Soul scene. Black Rio, as the Brazilian soul style and movement would later be dubbed, was always extremely influenced by the trends and styles of the U.S. Weighing in on the originator of funky samba, Ed Motta adds, “I don’t think Jorge Ben has a soul-funk influence—he has, like, three percent blues [influence], but it’s something unique, it’s something really Brazilian.” Samba-rock, whose creation is credited to Jorge Ben, Trio Mocotó, and Erasmo Carlos, took the pop song-structure and injected it with some additional percussion and samba swing. Whereas the Black Rio phenomenon originated from Rio, samba-rock’s roots were in São Paulo. João Parahyba, drummer of Trio Mocotó and session man on many a classic Jorge Ben side, recalls the days in São Paulo when all these new sounds were merging together:
“It was the beginning of the Black influence in rock with Jorge Ben, Trio Mocotó, Tim Maia, and Dom Salvador. The leader of Banda Black Rio, Oberdan Magalhães, a sax player, got his start playing in Dom Salvador’s band with Jorge Ben and us in ’69. When we started playing the big music festivals, Black music grew up. But we were all friends. Everyone at that time used to hang out at [popular São Paulo nightclub] Jogral together—the Mutantes, Rita Lee, Tim Maia, Clementina de Jesus. Rock people, together with samba people, together with jazz people.” (5)
The cross-pollination during this period meant that some of the earliest Brazilian soul records were created by a diverse set of performers, coming from the rock, jazz, and pop idioms. Rocker Eduardo Araújo released “A Onda é Boogaloo” (1969), which featured Brazilian versions of U.S. soul hits, translated and masterminded by Tim Maia. Raulzinho (Raul de Souza) and Impacto 8’s “International Hot” (1969) was a soul-oriented detour from Raul’s bossa-jazz roots. Brazil’s first modern Black-pride message song came from pop-jazz crooner, Wilson Simonal, with his “Tributo a Martin Luther King,” released pre-assassination in 1967.
The 1970 International Festival of Song
Soul music was gaining converts over the radio and at weekend dances, but Brazil’s elites were not ready to hear this kind of music at one of the most respected cultural forums. In the ’60s, the major record companies picked up on a European trend of sponsoring song contests, which in Brazil mutated into multimedia extravaganzas with live concerts, TV broadcasts, and accompanying albums. The festivals consistently featured the finest composers and musicians the country had to offer, introducing many songs that have since become standards and performers that are now stars. Despite the government and critics’ objections, the Fifth International Festival of Song in 1970 proved to be a breakthrough year for a number of soul-styled Brazilian artists. The Dom Salvador group backed Maria Alcina and Luiz Antonio on Salvador’s composition, “Abolição 1860–1980.” Erlon Chaves and Banda Veneno showcased the Jorge Ben dance-floor scorcher, “Eu Também Quero Mocotó,” with a controversial performance where two blonde dancers lavished kisses on the Black bandleader in a choreographed routine. This bold stunt offended the dictatorship’s social and racial sensibilities and resulted in a short jail sentence for Mr. Chaves, replete with interrogation and torture.
Tony Tornado, backed by the black vocal group Trio Ternura, made his debut with a powerful Solomon Burke-ified ballad, “B.R. 3,” written by Antonio Adolfo. Standing at over six feet tall, dressed in the latest Harlem fashions, and sporting an Afro, Tornado and his performance made a larger-than-life impression on the Brazilian public. With a powerful soul-inspired vocal style and the image to match, he challenged the traditional image of a black Brazilian performer. Tony had only recently returned from living in New York City, where he soaked up the radical culture and politics of late-’60s Harlem. His appearance at the festival resulted in two LPs, a bunch of singles, and persistent attention from the military police for wearing his modern black identity on his brightly colored, polyester sleeve. He was falsely accused of starting a Brazilian chapter of the Black Panthers and routinely harassed for his romantic relationship with a popular, white actress.
Tony Tornado and Trio Ternura
Tim Maia and the First Generation of Brazilian Soul
To anyone but a record collector or historian, Brazilian soul starts with Tim Maia. Maia’s slow rise to stardom starts when he was forcibly repatriated from the U.S. for marijuana possession in 1963. After recording two singles in 1968 with little success, some of his songs found their way onto albums by some of Brazil’s biggest stars, including Roberto Carlos, Erasmo Carlos, and, most importantly, Elis Regina on her 1970 album Em Pleno Verão where he joined her in a duet for his song “These Are the Songs.” His first self-titled LP was released on Polydor that same year with no less than three hit singles, remaining on the Rio pop charts for twenty-four weeks. His next three LPs (1971–73), all self-titled, contain the majority of his best known hits and stand as the most consistently excellent run by any Brazilian soul act. These albums single-handedly established Brazilian Soul as more than a passing fad.
Tim Maia may have been the style’s first superstar, but he was far from the only purveyor of Brazilian soul. Some of the lesser-known acts that received nominal chart attention were: Trio Ternura, Os Diagonais, Cassiano, Dom Salvador e Abolição, Gerson Côrtes (aka Gerson “King” Combo), Paulo Diniz, Tony Tornado, Tony and Frankye, and Hyldon. None of these artists managed to move many records outside of Rio and São Paulo. Some of these acts, like Cassiano and Gerson Côrtes specialized in straight covers of American Soul styles, making Portuguese-language facsimiles of uptown soul and James Brown–styled funk, respectively. With the exception of Dom Salvador e Abolição’s innovative fusion of jazz, soul, and traditional Brazilian styles on his 1970 album, Som, Sangue e Raça, an original Brazilian soul sound remained elusive, with only a few artists making significant strides beyond derivative, but admirable, mimicry.
Trio Ternura and their later incarnation, Quinteto Ternura
Veteran Tim Maia guitarist, Paulinho Guitarra, remembers a couple of impromptu jam sessions at Tim Maia’s house near Rio in Barra de Tijuca around 1974 as the birth of a new type of Brazilian soul. This new sound acknowledged its debts to Messrs. Brown, Isleys, and Mayfield, but also paid respect to the Brazilian masters, such as Pixinguinha and Ary Barroso. The group gathered only a few times, but Paulinho recalls that the lineup included future Banda Black Rio founder, Oberdan, and Robson Jorge from Cassiano’s band, alongside the usual Tim Maia players. He recalled that Tim recorded these sessions, but we can only assume that the tapes were lost, or, perhaps more likely, erased during Tim’s adventure joining an extraterrestrial cult a few years later. It wasn’t until years later, after hearing Banda Black Rio’s debut album in 1977, that Paulinho recognized the significance of the trailblazing sound they were messing around with during the gatherings of “A Banda das Bandas” (“The Band of the Bands”).(6)
Back cover of a Hyldon LP, front cover of the group Tarântulas
Around the same time as these mythic jam sessions, promoters began incorporating live bands into the baile lineup. In a bizarre reversal of the typical logic for using DJs, the baile bands (bandas dos bailes) kept the party jumping in between DJ sets. These bands were versed in all the newest American hits as well as sambas, and, if they were adventurous, maybe even some originals. Many of the later stars of the recorded Black Rio scene got their start playing James Brown and Kool and the Gang covers at these weekend dances, namely União Black, Copa 7, Os Devaneios, and Ed Lincoln’s classic lineup including Tony Tornado and Orlandivo.
A Party Becomes a Cultural Phenomenon
For kids in the Zona Norte, the soul parties opened a new world of sound, style, and understanding of what it meant to be Black. As the music, fashions, and politics of North American Blacks filtered down to Brazil through these weekly parties, thousands devoured the imported culture provided by the dozens of equipes populating the area. Equipes like Soul Grand Prix incorporated projections of American films like Shaft,Superfly, and Wattstax into their performances. Images of Black stars like the Jackson 5 and James Brown, and international and national Black sports heroes like Muhammad Ali and Pelé were regularly displayed as well. Jim Lee, an American who came to Rio to play for a local basketball team, began an import business bringing in popular Black hair products from the US — and even American whiskey.
The young, Black intellectuals that later formed the most influential Black political organization, Movimento Negro Unificado, saw an opportunity in these weekly Black Rio parties. According to Livio Sansone, a historian of the African diaspora, “especially in the beginning, Black activists identified soul dance nights as the place to be for canvassing against the dictatorship and its cultural censorship. Educated and less-educated Blacks met there to listen to soul music and to be inspired by U.S. Black political achievements and stylistic exploits.” (7)
It wasn’t long before this local phenomenon went national with help from Big Boy’s radio shows and the Baile da Pesada tours. Black Rio’s music and fashions found open ears and aspiring Afros in the ghettos of São Paulo, Salvador da Bahia, Porto Alegre, Brasília, and Belo Horizonte. Historian Michael Turner says that in the years preceding the growth of a full-fledged civil rights movement, “the influence of the ‘soul’ identification also spread within their Afro-Brazilian university student populations.” (8) Around this same time period, 1976–79, there was a tremendous growth in the number of Afro-Brazilian student organizations and cultural groups connected with institutions of higher learning.
Despite the success of soul-influenced stars like Tim Maia, Jorge Ben, and Erlon Chaves, it wasn’t until 1974 that there was a record released in Brazil explicitly targeted at the teens and young adults attending these weekly parties. Andre Midani, president of the newly launched WEA (Brazil’s wing of Warner Brothers Records), tapped the popular DJ equipe Soul Grand Prix to put together a set from their weekly parties for a compilation LP. Still in the depths of the military dictatorship, the aggressive police presence at the record-release party signaled their disapproval of the migration of the soul scene aboveground. Soul Grand Prix founder and DJ, Don Filó, retells the incident that went down at the Guadalupe Country Club that night: “I grabbed the microphone and acknowledged the presence of the police chief, saying that he was here to keep order. It was all I could do. He told me that I was determined to make trouble and that their orders were to put an end to it. They put a hood over my head and took me away to be interrogated.”(9)
Jorge Ben, Erlon Chaves LP covers
Thankfully, the military police were not the target audience for Soul Grand Prix’s compilation, which featured the full version of Donny Hathaway’s “The Ghetto,” as well as Aretha’s “Respect,” and an original song recorded in Brazil, an Azymuth-led cover of Passport’s “Ju Ju Man.” The record was a hit for WEA, and Midani began looking for a Brazilian band to record the kind of music the kids were dancing to every weekend at the bailes.
The Birth of Banda Black Rio
Banda Black Rio arrived late to the movement, but in a way they were always there. Members of Banda Black Rio played on nearly all of the major Brazilian soul and funk hits, including albums by Tim Maia, Paulo Diniz, Dom Salvador e Abolição, Luiz Melodia, and Helio Matheus. According to Ed Motta, Banda Black Rio were special, because they were to the Black Rio movement as “Antonio Carlos Jobim was to the bossa nova movement. They were bigger artistically, and, technically speaking, they were more sophisticated and more musically trained [than others in their respective movements]. And [Banda Black Rio] had Oberdan.”(10)
Banda Black Rio, more than any other single artist, represents the heights of the Black Rio movement. Prior to being approached by WEA’s Andre Midani to create an album that would capitalize on the huge, and largely untapped, domestic soul and funk market, Oberdan and his band mates were a group of session musicians loosely organized as Senzala (translation: slave quarters). Many of these players appeared on Luiz Melodia’s 1976 album, Maravilhas Contemporaneas. Within months of Banda Black Rio’s debut, they were one the biggest breakthroughs of the year, with countless bands following in their blend of samba, funk, and jazz, among them Alma Brasileira, Copa 7, Os Devaneios, Brasil Show, Dom Mita, and Banda Black Rio’s extended family of Carlos Dafé and Sandra Sá.
Tropicalia Meets Black Rio
Banda Black Rio may have been the hottest new band, but to the music critics they were nothing more than a derivative party band and a passing fad. Also in 1977, the darlings of the Brazilian music industry, Gilberto Gil (a Black Brazilian) and Caetano Veloso (a light-skinned mulatto by Brazilian standards, but White to most Americans), made a trip to the Negro Festival of Art and Culture, hosted in Lagos, Nigeria. Reinvigorated and loaded with fresh ideas and material, they set to work on their upcoming albums. Caetano’s album, Bicho, traded in the subtle simplicity of his previous albums for a set of slinky funk grooves that drew equally from his experiences in Nigeria and exposure to the Black Rio scene. Brazil was still very much a dictatorship, and, to the disappointment of leftist critics and radicals, Caetano’s new album lacked the covert political commentaries he was known for. To make matters worse, the program for the two supporting shows in Rio and São Paulo featured Banda Black Rio as his backing band, and critics pointed out that the programs for the shows “irresponsibly” announced that the music was “made for dancing.” (11)
Gilberto Gil 1977 Refavela LP; Caetano Veloso LP with Banda Black Rio
While Gilberto Gil’s music never made secret his Bahian heritage, he rarely addressed race more universally. On Refavela, he enthusiastically embraced his Blackness, adopting the pan-Africanism of reggae’s dreadlocks and the funky, syncopated groove of Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire. Critics saw it as a cheap ploy to sell more records, as this was his most commercial and accessible record to date. But the lyrical content reveals an exploration of his Bahian heritage from a new vantage point. The song “Ilê Aiyê,” named after Salvador da Bahia’s recently founded all-Black carnival percussion ensemble (bloco) is the most explicit in its reference to modern Black empowerment:
Somo criolo doido (We’re crazy creoles)
Somo bem legal (We’re pretty cool)
Temo cabelo duro (We got kinky hair)
Somo bleque pau (We’re Black power)
Branco, se você soubesse (White man, if you only knew)
O valor que preto tem (The value of Blackness)
Tu tomava banho de piche (If you took a bath in sap)
Ficava preto também (You’d be Black too)
The Funk’s a Flamin’
For a brief, shining moment, Black Rio reached unprecedented heights, where pop stars like Caetano and Gil got down to the funky sound, and every night Banda Black Rio was heard performing the intro theme to the country’s most popular soap opera. In 1976 and 1977, three monster albums cemented the legacy of Brazilian soul and funk: Cassiano’sCuban Soul, Tim Maia’s Disco Club, and Banda Black Rio’s debut, Maria Fumaça. All three records had multiple chart hits and, even more importantly, placed songs on major Brazilian soap-opera soundtracks.
Cassiano, Bedeu LP covers
Also in 1976, the cover story in the nationally distributed magazine, Jornal do Brasil, profiled the phenomenon, coining the term “Black Rio.” Lena Frias’s article spanned five full pages, filled with pictures and interviews detailing the peculiarities of this “foreign” phenomenon.12 While this article announced the movement to the wider Brazilian public, individuals within the movement bridled at its condescension towards the “(imported) pride of being Black in Brazil.” An article about Black Rio in such a high profile publication (Brazil’s equivalent to Time magazine) also attracted heightened attention to the movement from the government. Evidently, the military police also read the article, paying close attention to the suggested connection between leftist Black power groups and the DJ equipes. Shortly after the article appeared, a founding member of the Black Power equipe, among many others, was taken into police custody for interrogation.
When the Party’s Over
It’s easy to blame disco for Black Rio’s demise. Naturally, the arrival of the film Saturday Night Fever to Brazil was the most visible culprit, but other factors contributed to the near-sudden collapse of the Black Rio movement. Disco’s arrival in Brazil momentarily found partygoers in both Zona Norte and Zona Sul hustling to the same funky backbeat. Black Rio bailes had been playing “disco music” since before it was called disco, but only now with Hollywood’s stamp of approval was it alright for rich, White Brazilians to do it. Black Rio performers could still animate the crowd with their usual blend of funk, soul, and samba, but it was as if the popular support behind their movement jumped overboard, clamoring onto the good ship disco, helmed by Nelson Motta and his luscious crew of disco divas, As Freneticas. The disco boom unfortunately coincided with the record labels’ push for Black Rio, resulting in surprisingly poor sales. The young, Black partygoers that the record labels were targeting kept showing up to dance, but they weren’t buying the albums, says Hermano Vianna:
“The majority of records released as ‘Brazilian soul’ were a disaster in the market. The sound of these domestic arrangements, with the exception of Tim Maia, failed to please the dancing cariocas. The record labels slowly started to back away from the Black Rio sound, arguing that if there existed a block of Brazilian funkateers, they didn’t have the sufficient “acquisition power” to buy records.” (13)
With disco appealing to both White and Black consumers, Black Rio artists found their support disappear almost overnight. Attempts to break the scene into the mainstream smoldered. A Soul Grand Prix–sponsored tour for Archie Bell and the Drells in 1976 ended in financial disaster, leaving the equipe to pay the tour’s debts by selling off some of their equipment.
The DJ equipes, by this point major businesses, some with franchises across the country, chose sides as the loosely allied funk forces divided into two camps: funk (pronounced: “funk-E”) and charme (pronounced: “sharm-E”). Funk drew on the two newest imports from up north, hip-hop and Miami bass, fusing them together to create a uniquely Brazilian concoction with all the funk of Black Rio but none of the social consciousness. During the early ’80s, most of the Black Rio loyalists found more in common with the charme trend, as it “continued to be faithful to Black American music” and was “a more ‘mature’ funk, melodic, and not as heavy as hip-hop. The parties were once again packed,” according to Hermano Vianna. But by the mid-’80s, funk and hip-hop (pronounced “hippy-hoppy”) dominated a majority of the bailes and the radio stations.
The Black Rio Legacy
The modern Black sounds drifting south from North America with their matching fashions and politics of “Black and proud” had no place in elite Brazil’s idea of what Black Brazilians were supposed to listen to, dance to, and represent. But they danced anyway, and at the peak of the movement, tens of thousands of Black youth participated each weekend in dances in the northern and southern zones of Rio de Janeiro (14) The prominent Brazilian sociologist and the brain behind the Brazilian ideology of “racial democracy,” Gilberto Freyre, voiced his disapproval of Black Rio in an op-ed in 1977:
“Perhaps my eyes are deceiving me? Or did I really read that the United States will be arriving in Brazil…Americans of color to convince Brazilians, also of color, that their dances and their Afro-Brazilian songs need to be melancholy and rebellious? And not, as it is today, sambas, which are almost all happy and fraternal.” (15)
Behind Freyre’s desperate attempt to salvage a racial utopia lies a sincere fear by many White elites that “Black soul was the harbinger of a protest movement by Afro-Brazilians.” This realization implied that “Afro-Brazilians would have to develop forms of critical consciousness and organization that were specific to them, and therefore not national.” The racially harmonious Brazilian identity crafted in the previous decades appeared to be on the verge of collapse, and “to allow such a process to occur would be to admit, nationally, to both racial discrimination and racial identification.”(16)
Just as jazz and soul became intertwined with the movement for racial equality in the U.S., the Black Rio movement pushed Brazilians to challenge the country’s racial stereotypes. James Brown’s anthemic “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” helped open Black Brazilians’ minds to a world of possibilities for them, while making visible the myriad invisible ceilings built so low they couldn’t even “stand up” to “be counted.” In the ’70s, Brazil was a country where foreign movies portraying interracial relationships were banned and popular romantic singer, Carmen Silva, asked her producers: “Does being Black mean that I have to sing samba?” (17)
The Black Rio legacy lives on today in Brazil’s burgeoning hip-hop scene and with the pop stars that grew up during the movement’s heyday. Megastar Fernanda Abreu’s 2000 hit, “Baile da Pesada,” name-dropped Big Boy, Ademir, and Messiê Limá, while reminding Brazilians of the kinds of suburban throw-downs that existed before the bass-heavy “baile funk” parties dominated Rio’s suburban nightlife. The Black Rio sound lives a new life in the samples and references dropped by Brazilian DJs and MCs like Marcelo D2, Racionais MCs, and others. Thanks to this younger generation, Brazilians are reevaluating the contribution of Banda Black Rio, Tim Maia, and Toni Tornado, among others, to the expansion of Brazil’s musical palette.
In the last decade, this resurgence resulted in new recordings from Banda Black Rio (now fronted by Oberdan’s son, William Magalhães), Trio Mocotó, Gerson King Combo, and União Black, not to mention an all-star tribute to Tim Maia, who died in 1998. Brazilian and international record companies steadily release reissues of classic ’70s recordings by Copa 7, Banda Black Rio, Cassiano, Tony Bizarro, not to mention at least a half dozen Brazilian funk compilations.
In my own attempt to build my collection, I emailed Sir Dema after my trip, suggesting we swap records. I sent him a short list, not convinced he would have any of them. He wrote back saying he had a majority of them and would part with them for a couple items off of his list. Not a soul or funk novice, I was sure I could handle whatever he was looking for, but upon receiving his list, I was floored. An obscure Maceo Parker single was the most recognizable item. This was no elaborate prank on an enthusiastic gringo: This is Black Rio; it’s the real deal with real soul.
Allen Thayer interviewed Deodato for Issue 7
1. Mr. Funk Santos in Claudia Assef ’s Todo DJ Já Sambou, pg. 47, São Paulo, 2003.
2. Translated from Portuguese, “Big Boy: ‘Por Que Me Chamam de Careta?’” Rolling Stone (Brazil) 2/1/1972.
3. Interview with Ed Motta, Rio de Janiero, August 2004.
4. Translated from Portuguese, “O Que é Black Rio, Segundo Ademir,” Jornal da Musica2/17/1977.
5. Taken from interview with Bruce Gilman in “Unerring Light,” Brazzil Magazine, (www.brazzil.com), April 2002.
6. Interview with Paulinho Guitarra, Rio de Janeiro, August 2004.
7. Livio Sansone, Blackness Without Ethnicity, New York, 2003, pg. 116.
8. J. Michael Turner, “Brown into Black: Changing Racial Attitudes,” pg. 74, from Fontaine, Pierre-Michel, Race, Class and Power in Brazil.
9. Adilson Pereira, “Cultura Black na Ativa,” Jornal do Brasil, July 26, 2000.
10. Interview with Ed Motta, Rio de Janiero, August 2004.
11. Paulo Cesar de Araúju, Eu Não Sou Cachorro, Não!: Musica Popular Cafona e Ditadura Militar, Rio de Janeiro, 2002, pg. 272.
12. Lena Frias, “Black Rio – O Orgulho (Importado) de Ser Negro No Brasil” in Jornal do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, 1976.
13. Hermano Vianna, O Mundo Funk Carioca, Rio de Janeiro, 1988, pg. 30–31.
14. Ibid, pg. 24.
15. Gilberto Freyre, “Atenção Brasileiros” in Diario de Pernambuco (Recife), “Opiniao” section, A-13, 15 May 1977, cited from Michael George Hanchard, Orpheus and Power, Princeton, NJ, 1994, pg. 115.
16. Ibid, pg. 115.
17. Paulo Cesar de Araújo, Eu Não Sou Cachorro, Não!: Musica Popular Cafona e Ditadura Militar, Brazil, 2002, pg. 320.
Falar de Tim Maia é o mesmo que chover no molhado, pelo menos no meu caso, então fui conferir sua cinebiografia e posso afirmar que é uma Obra Prima, nada como conhecer sua “carreira” e poder ver tudo ali na sua frente de forma espetacular, nada foi poupado, drogas, sexo e muito, mas muito SOUL FUNK BRAZUCA, mais que imperdível é requisito obrigatório a todos.
Entre “Bauretes” e “Mistos Quentes” assim se fez a lenda Tim Maia!
“Não fumo, não bebo e não cheiro. Só minto um pouco.”
“O Tim Maia é praticamente uma legenda: você coloca Tim Maia numa festa, todo mundo levanta, todo mundo conhece, todo mundo gosta”. Podia ser a fala de algum entrevistado na rua, mas a frase veio da boca de Mauro Lima, diretor de Tim Maia – Não Há Nada Igual. O subtítulo do longa-metragem talvez não seja um exagero, já que é difícil encontrar uma figura musical brasileira moderna com a dimensão mítica de Tim Maia, que reúne algo entre o imaginário desregrado roqueiro de Raul Seixas e o som e a postura de malandro-do-soul de Jorge Ben, transitando entre bailões suburbanos e festas de bacana.
Tim Maia Racional Rodesia Psicodelico
Se conselho fosse som!
From the album Stone By Stone, recorded at Daptone Studios and available on Ubiquity Records, April 15th, 2014.
Filmed by Cori McKenna and Alex Johnson at Cameo Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, 11/22/13
Edited by Cori McKenna and Nadav Nirenberg
Produced by Ikebe Shakedown
Novidade na área, setmix especial By Cookinsoul direto da Espanha, uma mistura bacana com funk do mundo todo, inclusive brazuca!
Vale conferir e baixar, link no play
01 – Gap Band – Yearning For Your Love
02 – Toto – Africa
03 – Odyssey – Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love
04 – Marlena Shaw – California Soul
05 – Donna McGhee – It Ain’t No Big Thing
06 – Larry Heard – Summertime Breeze
07 – Jon Lucien – Would You Believe in Me
08 – George Gershwin – Summertime
09 – 9th creation – Much to much
10 – Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay
11 – Michael Wycoff – Looking Up To You
12 – The Jackson Sisters – I Believe In Miracles
13 – Slave – Just A Touch Of Love
14 – Bobby Womack – California Dreaming
15 – The Cyrkle – The Visit (She Was Here)
16 – Arthur Verocai – Dedicada a Ela
17 – Boom Clap Bachelors – Tiden Flyver
18 – Wanderlea – Lindo
19 – Hilary – The Wanderer
20 – Tyrone Davis – In The Mood
21 – The Cannonball Adderley Qunitet – Capricorn
22 – Maxine Nightingale – You Made My Life Beautiful
23 – Lenny White – Sweet Dreamer
24 – Gil Scott Heron and Brian Jackson – The Bottle
25 – The Inclinations – I’m Gonna Make Love Last This Time
26 – Peter Alzheimer – Butterfly
27 – Ponderosa Twins Plus One – Bound
28 – Syl Johnson – Could I Be Falling In Love
29 – Hiroshi Suzuki – Romance
30 – Cortex – Prelude a go round
31 – Lonnie Liston Smith – Enchantress
32 – Tim Maia – Ela Partiu
33 – Pool Pah – Sour soul
34 – Anita Baker – Angel
35 – Arawak – Accadde A Bali
36 – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Much Better Off
37 – Roy Ayers – Liquid Love
38 – Cortex – huit octobre 1971
39 – Ronnie Mcneir – in summertime
40 – Dorothy Ashby – Drink
41 – Bobby Lyle – Stop Running Away From Love
42 – Paco De Lucia – Entre Dos Aguas
43 – The Flamingos – I Only Have Eyes For You
44 – War – The World Is A Ghetto
45 – Brother Jack McDuff – The Shadow of Your Smile
46 – Michel Lorin et son ensemble – Douceur tropicale
47 – Johnnie Taylor – Disco 9000
48 – Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth
49 – Manolo Escobar – Calor
50 – Brother To Brother – Visions
51 – Quincy Jones – Tell Me a Bedtime Story
52 – Light Of The World – London Town
53 – Ronnie Laws – Always There
54 – Paulinho Da Costa – Deja Vu
55 – Pleasure – Ghettos Of The Mind
56 – Edwin Birdsong – Cola Bottle Baby
57 – Al Hudson – Music
58 – Lonnie Liston Smith – Expansions
59 – Jose Feliciano – California Dreamin
É com grande respeito e atenção que trazemos a Mixtape de Locking 2014 do nosso brother DJ Jul Nako da Juste Debout.
Juste Debout é um evento de grande destaque dentro do cenário das danças urbanas não só na França mais em todo o mundo!
Paz e Soul a todos e todas.
Keep The Funky!
Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket
Aguarde mais novidades por aqui!
O termo blaxploitation foi criado por Junius Griffin, cabeça da Associação Nacional para Avanços de Pessoas de Cor, tradução literal da NAACP de Los Angeles.
Um dos objetivos dos filmes de baixo orçamento batizados de Blaxploitation era criar e avançar o debate sobre igualdade entre as raças pela América do Norte. No entanto, os filmes acabaram sendo taxados de reforçadores de estereótipos negros vistos como negativos ao invés de promover qualquer equiparação cultural e social.
Apesar dos níveis de verdade contidos no parágrafo acima, alguns dos blaxploitations resultaram em filmes com ideias e tons mais radicais e viscerais do que as produções mainstream da época. Os problemas de roteiro, atuação e narrativa eram passíveis de muitas críticas, mas isto era quase inerente ao gênero e subgêneros do exploitation tao amado e celebrado por Tarantino.
Há quem considere os blaxploitations um dos maiores expoentes cinematográficos da década de 1970. Com trilhas sonoras com o melhor do soul e funk do período aliada à ação e quebra quebra com mulheres bonitas. Confira os pôsteres de mais de 40 filmes e tenha só uma ideia do que se passava. Fusões de cultura afro com kung fu e soft porn com gangsteres e pimps.
Nile Rodgers, guitarrista do Chic e parceiro de Daft Punk, Madonna, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross e outros (Foto: Reuters)
“Você sempre tem que estar lá quando algo acontece?”. Essa é a pergunta que Nile Rodgers diz ouvir dos amigos, impressionados com quantos fatos marcantes da música pop ele viveu. Nile se tornou conhecido como guitarrista do Chic, ícone da disco e funk de Nova York nos anos 70. Ele já trabalhou com Madonna, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Diana Ross e outros.
Nile Rodgers abriu shows para o Jackson 5 e foi sampleado no início do hip hop. Após parecer rumar ao ostracismo a partir dos anos 90, gravou o “hit do verão de 2013″, segundo ele mesmo: “Get lucky”, com o Daft Punk. Agora aposta em Avicii, DJ com quem colaborou e que está em primeiro lugar em vários países, inclusive o Brasil.
“Eu me sinto o músico mais sortudo do mundo”, diz Nile ao comentar que os amigos o chamam de “Forrest Gump do pop”. A comparação com o personagem de Tom Hanks que vive vários momentos importantes da história norte-americana não o deixa encabulado: “Sempre estou fazendo algo, então coisas acontecem à minha volta”, ele diz.
Forrest Gump do pop
Nile Rodgers estava lá em cenas musicais marcantes desde os anos 70
- 1973: Abre shows do Jackson 5 com a Big Apple Band.
- 1977: Funda o Chic, de hits disco como ‘Le freak’.
- 1979: Produz o hino gay ‘We are family’, do Sister Sledge.
- 1979: ‘Good times’, do Chic, é sampeada em ‘Rapper’s delight’, um dos marcos iniciais do hip hop.
- 1980: Produz ‘Diana’, de Diana Ross.
- 1983: Produz ‘Let´s dance’, disco mais vendido de David Bowie.
- 1984: Produz ‘Like a virgin’, 1º disco nº1 na ‘Billboard’ de Madonna.
- 1985: Produz ‘She’s a boss’, 1º disco solo de Mick Jagger.
1986: Produz ‘True colours’, de Cindy Lauper.
- 1995: Toca em ‘Money’, do álbum de Michael Jackson ‘History’.
- 1997: ‘We are family’ é sampleada em ‘Getting jiggy wit’ it’, 1º hit de Will Smith.
- 2003: Indicado pela primeira vez ao ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of fame’.
- 2004: Toca em ‘You had me’, maior hit de Joss Stone no Reino Unido.
- 2013: É coautor e grava ‘Get lucky’, hit do Daft Punk.
- 2013: Toca em ‘True’, de Avicii, um dos sucessos do ano.
Na conversa com o G1, Nile diz que Madonna “era louca” e foi a pessoa mais esforçada que conheceu. Ele também elogia o Jota Quest, com quem gravou “Mandou bem”, e comenta a polêmica performance de Miley Cyrus no VMA. Adivinhe quem estava lá enquanto tudo acontecia?
G1 – Qual é a música deste verão, “Get lucky” ou “Blurred lines”?
Nile Rodgers – “Get lucky”. Foi número 1 em mais países. Não digo isso por ser autor, mas por ter conquistado mais países. “Blurred lines” foi número 1 nos EUA. Mas muita gente diz que é por causa do vídeo.
G1 – É difícil competir com um vídeo de mulheres seminuas?
Nile Rodgers - Exatamente [risos]. Robin Thicke é meu amigo, e Pharrell também – e meu coautor. Não quero comparar as músicas, mas é uma análise estatística. “Get lucky” conseguiu o primeiro lugar em mais países só pela música, sem clipe.
G1 – O site WhoSampled conta mais de 250 faixas que samplearam coisas do Chic. Você fica feliz ou preocupado por ter direitos autorais “roubados”?
Nile Rodgers – Só isso? Foi muito mais! Fico muito feliz. Não me preocupo em ser roubado, é uma coisa que você não pode parar.
G1 – Você nunca processou ninguém por isso?
Nile Rodgers - Apenas na primeira vez, por “Rapper’s delight” [faixa de 1979, do Sugarhill Gang, um dos marcos iniciais do hip hop]. Depois nunca tive que me preocupar com isso. Porque as pessoas honestas pedem autorização. E as pessoas que você deveria processar, na verdade não precisa. É só mandar uma notificação, aí elas se retratam.
G1 – O que achou da ideia do Daft Punk e do Jota Quest de ter você no estúdio? Eles poderiam apenas emular seu estilo.
Nile Rodgers – É mais divertido assim. A diferença foi que o Jota Quest tinha a música preparada e eu só cheguei e fiz o que sei, com a guitarra do meu estilo. No Daft Punk, toquei e eles construíram a canção em torno disso. Eu estava lá desde o início. Mas é normal entrar no final também.
G1 – Você trabalhou com muitas das maiores estrelas do pop. Entre Madonna, David Bowie,Michael Jackson e Mick Jagger, quem te impressionou mais?
Nile Rodgers – Todos foram inacreditáveis. Por exemplo, Madonna foi a pessoa mais esforçada que eu conheci. Eu a encontrei no início da carreira, e nunca vi alguém que trabalhasse tão duro.David Bowie, por outro lado, foi o artista mais interessante e único com quem trabalhei. Ele vê o mundo de maneira muito diferente da maioria. Todos são especiais.
Agora estou trabalhando com Avicii, menino de 23 anos fazendo mais hits que você imagina. Ele é como eu aos 23. Todos me criticam por trabalhar com esse moleque. E eu respondo: ‘Quantos anos acha que eu tinha quando escrevi ‘Le freak’, single mais vendido da história da Atlantic Records? 25’. Avicii é meu parceiro favorito. E eu trabalho com muita gente.
G1 – O que te faz dizer que Madonna é a pessoa mais esforçada que você conheceu?
Nile Rodgers – Não importa o que acontecesse, ela trabalhava mais que todo mundo. Nunca pedia uma pausa, nunca! Especialmente no começo, em 1984. Ela era louca. E eu trabalho duro, nunca durmo. Ela estava tentando me superar!
G1 – Você estava no VMA deste ano, certo? O que achou da performance de Miley Cyrus?
Nile Rodgers – Não sei por que ficaram tão preocupados. Eu vi Madonna beijando Britney. Vi Madonna quase pelada, com o sutiã de Jean Paul Gaultier, praticando sadomasoquismo. Miley Cyrus só estava simulando masturbação com uma música que teve um vídeo com garotas peladas. Fez sentido para mim. Acho que é porque as pessoas a viram no Disney Club. Se fosse uma artista nova com esse show hardcore, hipersersexualizado, como Madonna, Lady Gaga, J-Lo, nada disso teria acontecido. Elas são todas bonitas e sexy. Na idade delas, sexo é muito importante. Veja só o meu maior disco, “Like a virgin”, de Madonna. Aquela faixa me deixou desconfortável. Ela falou: ‘Temos que fazer!’. Eu disse que não. Mas ela: ‘Vamos sim’.
G1 – Por que você ficou desconfortável com “Like a virgin”?
Nile Rodgers – Achei que era uma música só ok. Aquele disco tem “Angel”, “Material World”, músicas ótimas. “Like a virgin” era tipo “I made through da doo da da” [imita com ironia], não estava no mesmo nível. Mas era o contexto. Era Madonna sendo esperta o bastante para saber que mulheres jovens estavam ligadas na sexualidade. E foi um gesto enorme naquela época. Miley Cyrus faz o mesmo. Ela diz: ‘Ei, nos masturbamos, todas fazemos isso, é assim que tomamos consciência do nosso corpo’. Sem problemas.
G1 – Então você ficou incomodado, mas hoje entende o gesto de Madonna?
Nile Rodgers – Sim. Ela foi uma das que me fez entender isso. Eu era um homem crescido. E acredite, eu sou da época da liberação sexual feminina. Mas mesmo assim fiquei incomodado, porque sabia que o público dela era muito jovem. Ela me fez entender. “Nile, para uma garota jovem, alguém pensando em fazer sexo, isso é uma coisa muito importante: perder a virgindade. Com quem vai ser a sua primeira vez”.
G1 – Entender isso mudou algo para você? Pois o tipo de som que você faz lida bastante com a sexualidade.
Nile Rodgers – Sempre tive boa compreensão de música para mulheres. Lembre-se, “Like a virgin” foi em 1984, bem antes de eu trabalhar com Diana Ross. Trabalhei em grandes hinos para a comunidade gay nos anos 70. “I’m coming out”, “We are Family”. Essa questão de “Like a virgin” foi mais na letra, não no espírito e na consciência da época. Foi só Madonna percebendo bem sua base de fãs.
G1 – Alguns anos atrás, todo mundo só falava em soul. O disco e o funk não estavam na moda, mas hoje parecem a bola da vez. O que acha dessa mudança?
Nile Rodgers – Acho que o funk foi muito renegado. Não sei se realmente voltou, mas vou fazer tudo o que posso para tentar trazer de volta.
G1 – Você conhece algo que chamam aqui de funk carioca? É derivado do Miami bass, e muita gente diz que não é o “funk real”, como o seu. Acha que o seu funk é “o real”?
Nile Rodgers - Não conheço o funk carioca. E não é meu papel dizer “meu funk é de verdade, o deles não”. Meu funk é algo que se tornou natural para mim. Porque eu não queria me tornar como o funk do meio-oeste ou da costa oeste. Queria ter o meu estilo nova-iorquino. Que é muito diferente de Parliament, Funkadelic. Amo a todos, mas não queria soar domo eles. Éramos uma nova era do funk.
G1 – Você tem um som muito particular. Tocou com muitos artistas que gostam de se reinventar, como Madonna e Bowie. Ao contrário deles, mantém um estilo constante. Pensa nisso?
Nile Rodgers - Faço a música que sinto. Quero o melhor para a música ou o artista. Tenho orgulho de ter meu estilo. Acredito que possa funcionar com qualquer um. Com alguém mais tradicional ou alguém novo, como Avicii.
G1 – Como você conheceu o Jota Quest e por que se interessou neles?
Nile Rodgers – Meu baixista do Chic está produzindo o disco deles. Ele tocou algumas músicas e soavam “funky”. E eu pensei “Uau, isso vem do Brasil?”. E falei: “Coloque para gravar, vamos lá!”.
G1 – Jota Quest é uma banda de sucesso comercial no Brasil. Eles teriam chance no mercado dos EUA? Alguns os comparam com o Jamiroquai.
Nile Rodgers - Se eu fosse o produtor deles, o que eu teria feito é uma colaboração. A melhor coisa da música atual são os duetos. Você não vê Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk ou outros grandes artistas sem alguém junto. Talvez no Brasil isso não seja tão comum, mas deveria.
G1 – Tem planos de tocar no Brasil?
Nile Rodgers – Temos planos de ir à América do Sul. Mas apenas no Chile e Argentina. Não tenho certeza se iremos ao Brasil. O problema é datas livres. Adoraria tocar aí, fazer uma jam com o Jota Quest.
G1 – Você disse que o sucesso de “Get lucky” te ajudou a se livrar do câncer. Como?
Nile Rodgers – Música é o que me faz sentir bem. Não sei se faz algo fisicamente, mas espiritualmente sim. Tive que fazer tanta coisa para “Get lucky”. No meio da turnê do Chic, tive que voar para gravar esta e “Lose yourself to dance”, além do vídeo. Da Suíça para a Califórnia para a Alemanha etc. Eu era o porta-voz do projeto, os robôs só fizeram duas entrevistas. Eu fiz 30 ou 40. Gastei muita energia, mas também foi um tempo em que eu não pensava no câncer.
G1 – Você se sentia mal na época de gravar “Get lucky”?
Nile Rodgers – Não. Quando eu toco, nunca me sinto mal. Nem me lembro, porque eu guardo os dias bons. Nos dias em que eu estava mal, sei que não estava tocando. Estava na cama, ou andando por Manhattan. Tirei um período depois da minha cirurgia para não fazer nada. Depois continuei a trabalhar. Depois disso, ainda tive que fazer duas cirurgias, mas mesmo assim não perdi nem um show. Saía do hospital direto para o palco.
G1 – Você esteve em vários momentos importantes da música pop desde os anos 70. Você se vê como um Forrest Gump da música pop [personagem de Tom Hanks que participou de vários momentos da história norte-americana]?
Nile Rodgers - É engraçado, muitas pessoas me chamam assim, o Forrest Gump do Pop. “Você sempre tem que estar lá quando algo acontece?”. E eu digo que é porque eu saio muito. Sempre estou fazendo algo, então coisas acontecem à minha volta – muitas vezes eu sou o motivo para acontecerem. Eu me sinto o músico mais sortudo do mundo.
Fonte e materia Rodrigo Ortega do G1
Programa Original Funk Music 10/08/2013
Domingão Especial dias do Pais com muito Soul Funk você ouve aqui! http://www.webradiobalanco.com/
Sharon Jones & The Dap-kings + Maceo, Fred and Pee Wee (High Fidelity)
Dois shows gravados em 2012 e 2008, com o mais puro Soul Groove.
Vai perder? É melhor não arriscar e curtir o dia dos Pais com o bom e Original Funk Music!
Esperamos todos por lá a parir da 10:00 hrs.
Telling the story of a complex American icon is difficult territory to tread, especially when trying to walk Hollywood’s fine line between truth and entertainment. James Brown’s story is in good, cautious hands with Tate Taylor (The Help) though, director of Get On Up, the long-awaited biopic about James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul.”
“I got real protective of Mr. Brown and his legacy,” says Taylor. “If you ask people around the world, ‘Who is James Brown?’, nine times out of ten they start smiling and say he’s crazy, a drug addict, he beat his wives, etc., and that’s a very small part of this man. There’s so much people have no idea about. I realized that we needed to depict those dark moments in his life, but more importantly, we needed to show the 85 percent which most people don’t know. That’s how I approached the film: pack it with stuff people don’t know instead of filling it with flavor people already know and parody Mr. Brown with.”
With a star-studded cast of actors – including Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jill Scott, Dan Akroyd – producers Brian Grazer, Erica Huggins, Mick Jagger, Victoria Pearman, and Taylor bring the James Brown story to life, packing 60-plus years into one feature film.
Life+Times caught up with Taylor to discuss Get On Up and the life of James Brown.
Life+Times: How did you come to be the director of the film, and what perspective did you take in trying to tell his story?
Tate Taylor: After the success of The Help, I was trying to find my next project. Two years had gone by and I couldn’t find what I wanted to do next. I was offered a lot of stuff, but I’m really picky in the fact that I have a checklist of things that I must have: pathos, humor, spectacle, an ensemble with really cool and different characters coming in and swirling around each other. I also look for something where the audience can leave having a sense of importance about the film, something they can take home with them. Man, that is hard to find. I was under this illusion that after the success ofThe Help I was going to be taken to this secret room in Hollywood where all these projects were; it doesn’t exist. I was at an unrelated meeting with Imagine Entertainment and [Get On Up producers] Brian Grazer and Erica Huggins about doing a television project, and while I was there someone mentioned that the James Brown script had just come in. Being a southerner and a James Brown fan, I was curious to read it. So, they gave me the script; right after the meeting, I got on a plane to New York and somewhere over Vegas, it got me. I said, “Oh my god. This man’s life has checked every box of mine and the stories I want to tell.” I landed and called them and said, “Can I direct this movie for you?”, and three days later we were off to the races. What grabbed and shocked me about the story that I hadn’t known was the pure, true rock bottom abandonment this man faced from early ages. The fact that he was seven years old and left alone for six weeks in the woods by his dad to fend for himself – I still can’t wrap my head around how a kid survives. For me, it wasn’t a story of how did he get from point A to point B and get so famous. I saw in him something that I feel in myself, and something that anybody can relate to when they’ve gotten a little bit of fame or success: the fear of going backwards. In James, I saw a man fighting to stay relevant, to reinvent himself, being challenged when people thought they had him figured out. I think that was a cool drive that he had, and out of that drive he changed music forever.
L+T: For you personally, how did you come to know James Brown on a musical level growing up?
TT: In the South, we all – no matter what color you are – are proud of people that come from our land. We’re always the underdogs, talked about poorly or there’s misconceptions – and there’s definitely some dark, sad truths about the South – but we’re proud of our Elvis Presley’s, we’re proud of James Brown and R.E.M. James was always a part of my life. My mom always had him playing in our house; my grandparents, all my family lives in South Carolina, and it was always a big deal that James was from there. I always grew up with that excitement as a kid. As I became a young adult and I started realizing that I wanted to be in the entertainment business, one of the most influential movies of my life was Blues Brothers. I remember being 12 years old and seeing it, and I just couldn’t believe anything goes in that film. And sure enough, the legend himself, James Brown, appears in that film and I had such a sense of pride. That was who James was for me. The protective nature and ownership I took of him as a Southerner is what made me want to read the script, probably to make sure they didn’t mess it up. Then I somehow wanted to bring back the Blues Brothers movie to this film, and it’s all a really serendipitous mix of history and protection. That’s why I wanted Dan Akroyd to be in the film, I wanted it to be full circle.
L+T: How did you all pick Chadwick Boseman to play the role of James Brown? How did you see him evolve and fully embrace becoming James Brown?
TT: As I said earlier, there are so many parodies of James: Eddie Murphy in the hot tub, mug shots floating around. I said, “I’m not going to go the route of hiring a musician who can dance because that’s probably where I should start. I’ve got to get an actor very efficiently and artistically who can sew us into his soul.” I started trying to figure out who that could be and realized that Chad Boseman is that kind of an actor – his work in 42. He, much like Viola Davis, when they act, there’s a simplistic economy of the way they perform which is so brave for an actor to do, and they draw you in. It’s like you’re being sucked into their eyes. I knew that Chad had that ability. After about two months of coaxing him, because he did not want to do it our of pure fear, someone brought him in to meet with me and I chose the scene at the end of the movie when James is 63 years old. Chad came in cool jeans and shoes and was Chad Boseman, and he started reading as James at 63 and he became him. I completely forgot about what he had on and where we were, and I was like, “This is my guy. This is a real actor.” Also, I knew that Chad was from the South Carolina, and as his performance showed me, he had the soils of South Carolina and Georgia in his blood and he would know the speech patterns, the cadence and the walk of a proud man from that region. Then I said, “Oh God, please let him know how to dance,” and he does and he’s worked his ass off to get there.
L+T: There are some real musicians and artists in the film as well: Jill Scott, Aloe Blacc, Tariq Trotter (Black Thought). Talk about the job they did.
TT: I cast for talent, not for stunt. Jill Scott came in to read for Gertrude who was James Brown’s dresser, it was a very small part. I was so impressed at how in check Jill’s ego was, and she blew the part away and I went, “I’m gonna write something bigger for Jill Scott.” So, I expanded the role of Dee Dee, James’ first wife. She played the part and she was amazing. In my mind, she’s an amazing actor and then I’m like, “Oh yeah, that’s Jill Scott the singer.” Same with Tariq, same with Aloe: they got the parts because of their acting. That’s how I approached it and they were fantastic.
L+T: The James Brown catalog and discography is vast. How did you all decide what songs to include in the film?
TT: Well, the first thing we had to do was find out what we could even use. As you can imagine, on some of the early recordings the quality is not good. Once we figured out what we could use, I then realized that I didn’t want the narrative of the film to stop just so we could insert a performance of a favorite song. I thought, “We need to approach this like a musical. Whatever songs we choose must complement the narrative scene before and the scene that’s about to follow.” So, once we got the structure of the film figured out and I knew in a balanced way where I wanted songs to be, we then went into the lyrics. James is a storyteller and we selected it like that: “Which songs support the narrative the most?”
L+T: What was the most difficult part of his life to portray in the film?
TT: I wouldn’t say that one trumped another as being the most difficult; the most challenging part was finding the balance of what to show and not show. The fact that we covered so much of his life, from the 1930s to 1990, the most challenging part was creating a balance where one period didn’t feel heavier than the other. That was the most challenging: the film as a whole and how to balance all of those periods. Playing the 63-year-old James, I handled that delicately, because I didn’t want anybody to ever snicker.
L+T: Talk about the research you and your team did, and the people that knew James Brown that you all brought in to help you tell the story.
TT: Absolutely. Brian Grazer has been at this for 12 year and over that time, Al Sharpton was brought in as a consultant. Charles Bobbitt, his road manager, his family and James Brown himself was a part of his own biopic until his death in 2006. All the biographies were scoured over and checked. This has been ten years of gathering information, but for me and Chad, the best for us was the weekend we went to Augusta, Georgia together and spent the weekend with the family absorbing stories and subtle nuances that we wanted to bring to the vast information that we had already gathered. That was our biggest takeaway – the family – and it was important to me and Chad that they be happy and support the movie, and they’ve seen it and they love it.
Get On Up releases nationwide August 1.