This year, samba, Brazil’s most iconic and widely acclaimed musical style, is celebrating its 100th birthday. About 100 years ago, it was persecutedand criminalised as the music of former slaves and their sons. In early 20th century, playing samba was synonymous with being a criminal, a “malandro”. Many “sambistas” were persecuted and arrested during the Vargas dictatorship in the 1930s and 1940s.
Yet its rhythm was so captivating that despite the persecution, a stylised version of samba was played at parties of the “elite” which weren’t threatened by police raids. Over time, people forgot where this music came from and it became one of the most well-known and cherished symbols of Brazil.
Today, another popular music style, Brazilian funk, is facing the risk of being criminalised in the same way. Just like samba, funk was born in the favelas. Although some songs praise crime and drug trafficking, especially those in the funk style known as “proibidao” (“strongly prohibited” in a literal translation), funk deals with a wide range of themes, from love to the struggles associated with the day-to-day life in the favelas and the desire to be rich and powerful. In many ways, it is similar to American hip-hop.
Full article at Al Jazeera’s website. Date of publication 16/10/2017