The overwhelming amount of mainstream, profit-driven music has displaced traditional forms of music, storytelling and information dissemination. Today, rather than engaging in critical learning about the world outside their front doors, many youth are immersed in media fantasy that glamorizes violence and drugs. For marginalized youth, as numerous studies have shown, the caricatures presented by today's industrial-entertainment complex can be particularly destructive. We believe the best way to learn to deconstruct media is to make it. By empowering promising, emergent leaders to use digital media tools to create their own stories through music, we also teach them how to navigate the oft-treacherous, lowest-common-denominator music media. By encouraging youth to create work based on their experiences and those of their families, SPIN ROCINHA students investigate not only their hardships, but the positive alternatives and outcomes that they may reach in order to improve their lives, and the lives of their communities, and how to seize the opportunity to be part of a new wave of forward-looking, socially engaged advocacy, through music literacy and activism that identifies and transcends any negative aspects of the funk carioca movement.
Baile funk, funk carioca, Rio funk, or favela funk, is a type of dance music from Rio de Janeiro that was popularized in the favelas in the 1980s and 1990s. In Rio, baile funk refers to the actual parties in which the music is played. Originating from Rio, funk carioca has become increasingly popular in favela culture all over Brazil. Funk is derivative of Miami bass and freestyle. These localized U.S. genres became influential in Rio de Janeiro due to the cheap and easy flight from Rio to Miami for DJs to buy music and equipment. The music discusses topics such as poverty, human dignity, racial pride, breaking sexual morals, violence and social injustice. Social analysts believe that the funk is an expression of the severe social issues faced by the poor and black people in Rio.
Funk music has always used a small catalog of rhythms and samples. Songs can either be instrumental or include rapping, singing, or something in between the two. Funk carioca lyrics are often criticized due to their violent and sexually explicit nature, as well as misogynistic content, including "novinhas" (under-aged girls) characterized as sexual objects. The extreme banalization of sex is viewed as a negative aspect of the funk culture where levels of education and awareness of family planning are low. Recurrent lyric topics are explicit sexual positions, the parties, poverty, police, and life in the favelas. While funk carioca frequently makes references to sexuality, it often employs euphemisms instead of bold statements, and does not directly advocate sexual violence toward women. Popular funk artists usually compose two sets of lyrics for their songs; one version for radio broadcast, and another for dance halls, parties, and sound cars. Lyrics hopeful for a life free from poverty is carried through many songs. Defenders of funk argue that the genre is an authentic expression of low-income communities and the sexual lyrics reflect sexual freedom in Brazilian society. Some sociologists say that such content reflects the life of the impoverished people who lack protection and better conditions due to insufficient State involvement in the favelas.
The glamorization of crime is also viewed as another negative consequence of funk carioca. Some music, belonging to a style known as "proibidão" (the forbidden), has violent lyrics, some of which are composed by the drug gangs. Themes include praising murders of rival gang members and cops, intimidation, domination of the favelas, robbery, drug use, and the illicit life of drug dealers in general. Authorities view some of these lyrics as "recruiting" people to organized crime and inciting violence. Due to the lack of regulation in the locations where they usually take place, "bailes funk" are often considered crime prone environments and hot spots for drug trade and consumption, where heavily armed dealers display their power. It is rumored that most of the bailes funks are financially backed by drug lords. As a recent strategy of the UPP police pacification campaigns in some Rio favelas, bailes funks have been prohibited, and are now considered a crime. There is currently no UPP campaign in Rocinha, due to the sheer size and density of the favela.
Until the European media began reporting on baile funk in 2000, it was only a regional phenomenon. Then in 2001, baile funk tracks appeared on the BMG label. The artist M.I.A. brought mainstream popularity to Brazilian funk with her single Bucky Done Gun released in 2005. Now baile funk is now an internationally recognized genre of music. We support the idea that the development of critical music literacy is important, no matter what the style, and as such, we encourage students to explore a wide range of music genres, techniques and styles, not just that of funk carioca.
Currently that has been a change in Rio and more Dj's are experimenting with EDM (Electronic Dance Music). Spin Rocinha is included as the majority of our students have interest to branch out their interests to more international music like House music. Shows like "Tomorrowland" and places like the island of Ibiza have put electronic music in the spotlight here in Rio de Janeiro, including the favelas, like Rocinha. Most of Spin Rocinha's students want to play outside the favela and would love the opportunity to travel worldwide and show their skills on an international platform while representing the favela!