We Americans don't know much about geography (Quick! Where's Lake Titicacka? What borders Crusted Butte, Colo.? If Russia attacked Turkey from the rear, would Greece help?), so it might blow our little minds to discover the amazing audio geography lesson that is Bonde Do Role.
Bonde Do Role's three MCs come from Curitiba (the capital city of Paraná, a state in Southern Brazil) but don't owe too much to the region's samba heritage. Instead of "Girl from Ipanema" beats, the trio rap in Brazilian over Alice in Chains, Grease and Atari samples. They blend baile rhythms and funk carioca (a kind of sexed-up party music popular among sexed-up Brazilians) with American pop, rock and metal. It's kinda like if Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo grew up on Sepultura and Sérgio Mendes.
For Rodrigo Gorky, the blend makes as much sense as topless girls in thongs wandering the beach under a big statue of Jesus.
"We live in the South Brazil, and there are all kinds of prejudice against ghetto music like hip-hop and funk carioca," he says. "The South is more into rock, so rock bands from '80s and '90s are really popular.... [But] we really like both, so that's where the idea of mixing it came from.
"American and European culture are all over the world," Gorky continues. "We watch lots of American TV and films. We all grew up watching The Simpsons, Beverly Hills 90210, listening to New Kids on the Block and stuff like that."
So it was just a matter of mixing a little from Column A and a little from Column B. It may sound obvious to us; after all, we love weird-ass crosspollinations like Eminem and Elton John, Anthrax and Public Enemy, Sonny and Cher. But Brazilians can be sticklers about keeping stuff apart-which is why Jesus and hot Brazilian ass are separated by a thousand feet of mountain.
"Funk carioca people in Rio de Janeiro have been using the same samples for 20 years-[that's] what makes us different," says Gorky. "We tried new mash-ups. In Brazil there are lots of people who enjoy what we're doing, [but] some who really hate us."
And ain't that always how it goes. You spin the riff from "Man in the Box" too close to the melody of "Summer Nights" and everyone gets all pissed off. Thankfully, Bonde Do Role are touring the States, where we don't know the population of China but love our wacky-ass mash-ups. And thongs.
Bonde do Role plays with Diplo and DJ Corey Biggs at The Casbah on Sunday, March 11. $18. 619-232-HELL.