baile-funk-crop.jpgBaile funk, aka funk carioca or bailes funk, is a good example of how dance music conventions can be — and often are — shaped by the people and for the people. The DJ doesn’t necessarily define the sound, but the DJ does nurture it, develop it and mash the sound up with the contributions of other cultures that share similar experiences. In this case, the Baile funk experience was using the spirit of music and dance to rise above the poverty and oppression of the ghetto.
The term baile funk was used originally to describe a type of dance party that started happening in the favelas (ghettos) of Rio in the 70’s. Funk, r&b, and soul music being produced by American artists like George Clinton, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and Isaac Hayes had a strong voice with the people who populated the favelas. This music not only had relevant social messages, but grooves that were explicitly crafted for dancing.

Got to Give the people what they want
Being tuned into what people wanted to groove to at the time, DJs brought funk records from Miami, or sought them out from sources in Brazil. As the 80’s turned into the 90’s, the funk records had been replaced by hip hop records — and Miami hip hop was all about bass. The funk label stuck, however, and became synonomous with anything that was american dance music, which for the most part, in South America, was hip hop/rap.

Bass and beyond

What came to be known as the “funk” sound at the bailes (or “dances”) could be described as 808 beats with synthetic bass lines, and melodies combined with clave rhythms. Drum loops from Miami bass (also based on the clave rhythm) were certainly the most prominent pattern, but there were also patterns and sounds akin to early electro and techno. Samples from both native and imported pop music provided much of the texture and harmony in the music. As DJs created this music live at the bailes or in the studio, they would mash up local dance rhythms such as cumbia and merengue into the sound, which made it more accessible to larger audiences, and this cross-pollination made for a potent combination on the dance floor.

Now the fun part

Bucky Dun Gone by M.I.A. produced by Diplo is a signature baile funk club hit. Now check out Jiu Jitsu (Montagem) by Dj Isaac – sound familiar? Not sure which one came first but either way it’s a good example of what happens when a successful mash-up comes together. The Formula gets used over and over. M.I.A. also has some great tracks on Piracy Funds Terrorism. Quite fond of the this Diplo production as well from his latest release, decent work for decent pay. Rio Baile Funk More Favela Booty Beats is a great collection of the classic baile funk sound.
For a more modern take on the sound, listen to these releases from Bersa Discos featuring a variety of producers like DJ Panik, DJ Negro, and Uproot Andy. Bomba Esthero, and Bonde Do Role are some other great artists exploring this sound. And finally, not too long ago, the baile funk sound broke onto the mainstream charts with Gwen Stefani’s Wind it Up.

The basic recipe

Miami bass + latin dance + rap + pop samples = baile funk
diplo2.jpgDig deeper
Here is a good article from few years back in NY times. City of God is also a great movie for learning more about the origins of baile funk. Some great scenes depict early favela funk parties.
Any of the examples I listed above should make enjoyable stations and will produce a nice variety of Latin-flavored dance music. We took the liberty of creating a genre station called bmore, bass & baile which combines the baile sound with its older sister ‘bass’ and her little cousin “bmore.” Also, if you enjoy this baile funk sound, you may also have fun with reggaeton and dancehall… many parallels!
Dance Collection Manager


  1. Chris Horgan
    November 17, 2009 at 2:21pm
    M.I.A. - is not one of my favorite artists but Diplo's productions for her are amazing!
  2. Kevin Seal
    November 17, 2009 at 3:16pm
    That movie City Of God is a reminder that out of great suffering can come great art and great filmmaking. Highly recommended viewing. Speaking of Rio, I'm trying to get down there for the 2016 Olympics. I've always wanted to see Brazil.
  3. Michael Addicott
    November 18, 2009 at 9:41am
    @ Kevin. if you do check out some underground dance clubs if you can. I've heard from some friends that have spun down there that they are amazing. it's going to be insane for the Olympics - good luck!
  4. Kevin Seal
    November 18, 2009 at 2:01pm
    Thanks, Addi! I'd love to hear about those underground clubs your friends recommend... tell me offline, though, as those clubs probably want to stay, ahem, underground. That sounds awesome, though.
  5. Regine Edwards
    November 18, 2009 at 11:28pm
    City of God was one of the best movies I've ever seen. Being a fanatic of that film, I also bought City of God in paperback. I loved the music they used. And I would say Brazil is the best place down in South. I'm planning to visit Rio de Janeiro on January. The trip is quite expensive to I have to work hard for it. I'm working in a supply store and I need to get another job so that I can get more money.
  6. Michael
    November 18, 2009 at 11:43pm
    underground clubs is always like theres something hidden in it. and all the bad things is all going on underground. But sounds cool to go. Best Regards, Michael
  7. wholesale sunglasses
    December 02, 2009 at 2:04am
    The best movie for me is City of God. and Underground is always underground. they have lots in common.
  8. Bobbi
    December 09, 2009 at 1:38pm
    Wanted to let you know how much I enjoy Pandora. I am possibly older than most of your users, and I love hearing the music that I love any time I like. I am at work now (selling real estate) listening to my old Christmas music. Thank you, brilliant idea. Bobbi
  9. JJeff
    December 10, 2009 at 12:29pm
    I'm not sure whether this is where I'm supposed to go, but I noticed the absence of two fairly well-known tenor saxophonists (honker/shouter) variety of the 1950's - Sam The Man Taylor and Rusty Bryant. Sam The Man Taylor was the featured soloist on the original version of "Cloudburst" (made famous in vocalese by Lambert Hendrix & Ross and "Ooo Wee" (you'll find it on the Blues Masters CD series). He appeared - usually with Al Sears, King Curtis and Heywood Henry or another tenor player - with Alan Freed's Rock 'n Roll Orchestra (you're missing those recordings also). He was often the soloist in the middle of many well-known vocal hits of the 50's (including "Love Me or Leave Me" bySammy Davis Jr. Rusty Bryant's first album was "live" from the Caroline Club in Columbus O. Best known hits were "Back Street", "Ridin' With Rusty" and a cover of "Castle Rock." He recorded more mainstream jazz stuff with Prestige a few years later. If this isn't the right place to post this, could Pandora consider adding a linky to a "tunes missing but requested" comments page? Other than that - I love Pandora.
  10. Michael Addicott
    December 10, 2009 at 1:24pm
    Jeff, thanks for commenting, and for your suggestions. I have forwarded your request on to our listener advocates. If anything else comes to mind please send to: thanks!

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