Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

MC Tha – Rito de Passá

Our last post of Reader’s Week, of 2019, from regular Tomás, is Brazilian funk. As good a place to wind up as any.


Tomás Gauna: Baile funk (or favela funk, funk carioca, or just funk) is a genre that originated in Rio’s favelas, and has spread all over the world. Now this isn’t something new − people like Diplo have been circling around this style of music since the early 00’s and songs like “Rap das armas” have enjoyed the odd international crossover − but in the last couple of years it has truly felt like artists from all over the world were into it, from J.Lo to Drake, from Madonna to Tove Lo. It sure is great that everyone everywhere is being exposed to such a great genre, but it also might contribute the cultural erasure of Brazilian, especially Afro-Brazilian artists, who are often not getting the same amount of exposure as their Anglophone counterparts. MC Tha’s “Rito de Passá” is a take that is way less raw and abrasive than the origins of the genre, yet it finds an unexpected link between funk and, for example, MPB. Her voice is sweet and her melodies are clear, in contrast with the hard-hitting sound of the beats. It’s a really beautiful, catchy song, that also goes pretty hard. In her lyrics, she talks about connecting with her spiritual side, celebrating the passage of time and anticipating the best for the future. This is well reflected in the video, which shows imagery and practices related to Afro-Brazilian religions. While at its core “Rito de passá” is pretty much a pop song, it still is a welcome alternative to the hyper-commercialization of the genre that has extended globally; it engages with tradition and uplifts and celebrates culture, while taking very a forward-thinking approach.

Ian Mathers: There’s a suitably incantatory ebb and flow to the refrain here, so that even if you don’t know the devotional specifics (the YT description mentions Orixás, which given Brazil suggests Candomblé?) it still feels like some sort of rite. And the longer it goes on, the more that ebb feels low key hypnotic, like just a few more repetitions will get us where we’re really going…

Alfred Soto: The clicking and thumping production — brittle atop without much bottom — is the star, but this doesn’t stop MC Tha.

Isabel Cole: Great beat produced with a lovely, rich mix of sounds, but there’s a lack of interest in the vocal line, and it never quite adds up to anything.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: At once tethered to ground and full of joyful uplift, a groove-driven controlled explosion that has room for an analog-sounding synth break, what feels like an orchestra of percussion, and MC Tha’s vocal performance. That last element is the obvious standout, an enveloping force that serves as context for the rest of the song. We start and end with it, a multitracked thesis statement, and the whole self-contained world of the song sings ever sweeter from her voice.

Edward Okulicz: Without grasping a single word, I knew this was music of worship — there’s something in the gorgeous melody and the rhythm that hits hard despite its relatively low volume that suggests a ritual for God, while also feeling communal for people. MC Tha is in complete lock-step with the track, like she’s an atomic clock, and she and her music suggest you can have intense rhythm and funk without loudness, and that is an even huger power.

Kylo Nocom: Baptisms still hold a significant amount of value for me as a rite of passage, so MC Tha’s evocations of rain as purification work their tricks more effectively; the nasal repetition of her mantras carry religious weight that lyrical translations aren’t necessary to understand. There’s nothing quite like how MC Tha conducts her coos around the instruments, nor any moment from this year that’s as equivalent to the unnerving horror of the bridge’s buzz and hum. A perfect summer hit to cleanse the soul with repeated listening.

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