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V/A - Proibidão C.V: Forbidden Gang Funk From Rio de Janeiro

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Artist: V/A

Album: Proibidão C.V: Forbidden Gang Funk From Rio de Janeiro

Label: Sublime Frequencies

Review date: Nov. 6, 2007

Proibidão C.V, a cheap, electronic gang rap from the furious streets of Rio De Janeiro, serves as pirate radio for people whose existence is confined to the city's vast slum network and the illicit drug activity that comes with survival therein. Like NYC rap in its infancy, Miami bass and sometimes even raw DC street corner GoGo, this music is dominated by percussion and voice, yet its job is to spread stories of drug deals gone bad, the inherit violence of the slums and apologies to gang leaders. Such music is passed along in bootleg form, anonymously, by DJs at gang-sponsored gatherings because public broadcasting over the airwaves is completely illegal.

This particular disc was recorded in 2003 in favelas in Zona Sul in S. Rio, and features DJs and rappers playing where the Comando Vermelho, a gang founded in a Brazilian prison in 1979, ruled supreme. A decade ago, the C.V controlled most of the Rio favelas' criminal activity, yet one can still find video clips, as well as audio of this music, on YouTube from more recent times.

Because of the history, the sounds gathered here represent their own particular subculture in the same way that a xalam-playing griot might in Senegal; the music is not only for entertainment but also a way of communicating and keeping events alive through the oral tradition. Naturally, when people are stuffed into dodgy housing that literally litters the hillsides of some of world's largest cities, they'll create their own means of survival and music to celebrate and critique it.

Even without knowing any of this music's origin or history, or Portuguese for that matter, it can still be appreciated on dance floors from Phuket, Thailand to Coon Rapids, Iowa. It's irresistibly danceable and its lyrics typically settle into a hummable melody. So, in typical Sublime Frequencies fashion, C.V acts as a gateway to yet another under-the-radar musical hybrid whose spirit and intention deserve a bit of northern exposure. Note: all tracks and artists are anonymous.

By Bruce Miller

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