UPR!SE is a blog dedicated to The Shrine's Patron Saint and inspiration, Fela Anikulpo Kuti.

The blog focuses on music, fashion, art, design, politics and culture. It is a celebration of trailblazing souls who rise up without compromise.


Friday, July 23, 2010

FAVELA ON BLAST! The Doc + A True Story of the Filming

DJ Diplo's documentary about Baile Funk from Rio de Janeiro is finally coming to theaters! (CHECK THE TRAILER BELOW.) I have a close connection to this project, as I was at the filming of one of the parties in Santa Tereza at Morro Das Prazeres (Pleasure Hill). A friend of mine was working with DJ Sany Pitbull and invited us to the party.

I lived in Rio for seven years, and had been all over the city, but going up into the favelas (slums or ghettos, I prefer community) can be pretty aggro to say the least. The makeshift housing is unlike anything in the U.S. and the threat of violence is real due to drug trafficking, but if you are invited or accompanied by someone from the community you are relatively secure. Security is an issue in Rio, no doubt, but it's an issue in Chicago, too. Any big city, unfortunately.

After leaving our car at the base of the hill, we walked up a wooden stairway that lead up to the the area of the community where the party was being held. On the way up, I noticed a shirtless guy with a pistol tucked into his pants. I didn't say anything as a couple of the girls with us were already pretty spooked. Once we got to the top, we entered a cement courtyard/soccer field where the party was going off.

It was a bit of odd mix with people from the community and the film crew with their huge camera boom and equipment. Everyone was dancing, from little kids to senior citizens. Sany Pitbull is a beast and rocked the party well. A few MCs got up as well. One of the woman MCs brought some filthy flow - Uncle Luke might have blushed. That sh*t was priceless.

The girls mellowed out and danced for hours, though they were a little freaked out by the dudes on the edges of the party keeping watch with machine guns. I think they were taking extra care to ensure no BS was going to screw up the filming. Funny thing was, no one harassed any of the girls like what might happen at a regular bar or club in the city. Carioca (Rio) guys can be pretty aggressive. Hell, the girls, too!

At one point I went off to find a bathroom and on the way back ended up shooting the sh*t with one of the security guys. He couldn't get over the idea that some leprechaun looking motherf*cker was speaking Portuguese to him. Someone passed a joint and and he had to put the machine gun in his other hand when I passed it to him.

My girl (now wife) was freaking out when I came back. I was gone for like twenty minutes and she got a little worried. We left while the party was still poppin' around 4AM. On Blasted!!!!

Rio is hosting the World Cup in 2014 an the Olympics in 2016. What an amazing opportunity for the city/country to make some positive changes. I know Rio has a bad reputation, but a lot of it is unwarranted. (I've been help up at gunpoint in Chicago, never Rio.) My friends have told me that certain favelas have already gotten better, which is encouraging. I can't recommend going enough. The natural layout of the city is ridiculous. Afternoons in Ipanema... But don't forget to hit Via Show!



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