Like any geo-located movement, usurpers from outside of town are often mocked, scoffed or stoned for blasphemy. Music has a long history of turning on such infedels, most notably the ping-pong, to / fro battle between so-called black and white genres (as documented to great extent in Simon Reynolds’ latest book ‘Bring The Noise‘.). Baile Funk seems to be no exception – it’s a Rio thing, and there are long blog column inches devoted to outing the infiltrators. Diplo comes in for significant abuse in some circles, even the recently split Bonde Do Role found the occasional knife in the back for daring to channel baile funk through their Curitiba roots.
So what then should we make of Bernhard Hendrik Hermann Weber Ramos De Lacerda, the Stuggart-born player who has clawed his way to the top of Rio’s funk carioca scene as ‘MC Gringo’? Starting his music career as vocalist & guitar player in a German punk band with Basti Schwarz (who later founded Tiefschwarz), Gringo followed his Brazilian girlfriend back to her homeland, and fell in love with the burgeoning funk scene. Three years later, Man Recordings presents ‘Gringao’ – Gringo’s debut release, produced primarily by Amazing Clay and DJ Sandrinho, and featuring contributions from DJ Rafael with MCs Binho and Dandao (also featured on the Crookers’ Funk Mundial release).
With Gringo rapping in Portuguese, German and English, the release is absolutely on-point and, with high calibre productions under-pinning track after track, there’s no doubting his professionalism and dedication to the scene. With a dearth of artist albums making their way out of Brazil, ‘Gringao’ is a good opportunity to stock up on a solid collection of party jams.
Gringo’s tale is an interesting step in the ongoing story of baile funk, and one that hints at a broader acceptance of international influences and artists. Looks like the next chapter is just waiting to be written – anyone want to take the bait?