Unlike true blogger types, I have a bad habit of waiting too long to post things, until their 15 minutes of pop-cultural notoriety are up. On top of that, the fad I am about to tell you about is one I learned about not from my superhip underground posse of Early Adopters but from the pages of, ahem, Entertainment Weekly--probably about 5 months ago, at that.
But what the hell. In the interest of spreading the word that Brazilian music of recent decades means far more than bossa nova, samba, and tropicalia, our subject today is Rio/baile/favela funk--Brazil's 21st century fusion (dare I say "mashup"?) of 80s electro, raunchy 90s booty-shakin' party music, gangsta bravado, obscure (and not-so-obscure) samples, and random sonic weirdness. I'm pretty sure I heard snippets of both "Owner of a Lonely Heart" and an ice-cream-truck jingle in one song, for instance. Lacking any first-hand knowledge of favela culture, I think of this as avant-garde street music: of the people and off the wall at the same time. This site is a treasure trove of mp3s and DJ mixes; pick any song and dive in--that's what I did, and continue to do every now and then. Naturally I have a soft spot in my heart for any compilation titled "Funk Neurotico 23," even if (okay, especially if) its individual tracks are completey unidentified.
I am no expert on this stuff by any means; all I've done so far is get my feet wet, and that's probably all I'll ever do. Here's an article on the phenomenon from Blender (with accompanying list of sample songs), and here's a review in Pitchfork of a commercially available compilation. (By all accounts, most of the good stuff is unavailable except in bootleg form thanks to the huge number of uncleared samples; the Pitchfork review says the album in question "feels like a Pier 1 Import of ghetto world music." Ouch!)