Blog October 6, 2014
MC Bin Laden: Baile Funk's Eccentric Experimenter

MC Bin Laden is an interesting character. According to a recent profile in Brazilian Noisey, Bin Laden makes proibidão, a style of baile funk whose subject matter revolves around crime and drugs, rather than ostentaçao or "ostentatious" funk, because, he says, ostentaçao encourages poor people of the favelas to spend money that they don't have. Bin Laden's name is provocative, and, some might say, offensive, but he's just playing a character: Bin Laden is actually an evangelical Christian. He doesn't do drugs or engage in other criminal activities. He just makes music about it. Proibidão MCs play the parts of villains, so Bin Laden chose a big one.

MC Bin Laden had a massive hit this March with “Lança de Côco,” a song that brought international attention to the passinho do romano dance craze, along with Bin Laden’s distinctive bleach-streaked haircut and goofy masked crew. His MO was clear from the start: the undeniable hip-shaking force of baile hollowed out to its bare minimum, and then mixed with a blatant disregard for funk convention or the potential for listeners to careen off the road as they were confronted with the ear-shattering sounds of the passinho.

That combination remains thrillingly intact on the new Bin Laden track, “Tchu Plin Tchu Plin.” The song begins with a Middle Eastern-style incantation backed by the familiar sound of the passinho rhythm, but things get progressively stranger from there. The video for "Tchu Plin Tchu Plin" shows Bin Laden surrounded by friends in an empty warehouse with a swimming pool. The Shrek mask that was a highlight of the “Lança de Côco” video shows up once again, but this time a 12-year-old with pink and blue hair who wears both a Batman mask and vampire fangs (and at one point wears a cooking pot as a hat) is clearly the star here. That kid provides the chirping chorus to “Tchu Plin Tchu Plin,” which continues the shrill piercing noise and hazy feeling of “Lança de Côco.” In typical MC Bin Laden fashion, a dramatic shift changes the song completely, as the kid (Who is this boy? We must know!) warbles a new type of melody, accompanied by shuffling dance steps from Bin Laden's crew. Then someone belly flops into the pool and Shrek busts dance moves while wearing a suit and tie.

“Tchu Plin Tchu Plin” has little competition in terms of Bin Laden videos, but it is by no means the only fantastic new track from the talented MC. “Bonde dos Iraquianos” ("Crew of Iraqis") comes as close as baile funk could come to metal. Bin Laden spits with unchecked fury over a dark, sinister production, complete with cackling laughter and gunshot sound effects. Bin Laden calls his crew Iraqis and they speak an invented "Arabic" together. “Lança de Menta” is pure build-up to a break that never happens, almost taunting listeners expecting more conventional baile funk, but its aggressive beatboxing and screeching guest appearance from an unnamed vocalist perfectly complement MC Bin Laden’s booming voice. “Lê Lê Lalauê” begins with the thunderous sound of Bin Laden’s rhymes over a minimalist rhythm that threatens to dissolve into nothing before being overtaken by the sound of a revving engine. Along the way, the track is interspersed with some unexpected, but not unwelcome, keyboard playing.

MC Bin Laden has firmly established his position as an experimental provocateur in the baile funk scene, a prankster who is both creating some of Brazil’s most adventurous music and making us question preconceived ideas about funk’s sonic possibilities. We have one more pressing question, though: Who is the man behind the Shrek mask?

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