The ruling sound of Brazilian favelas (shanty towns), baile funk, has had a problematic history. It's a music that can advocate for social justice in one breath, and call women bitches and sexualize novinhas (underage girls) in the next. But three girls from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro may just soon become the new ruling sound of their community.
Pearls Negras are Alice, Jeni and Mari, three 17-year-old female rappers from Brazil. On their debut mixtape, Biggie Apple, they play the part of both fierce protesters and normal teenagers. They advocate for social change ("Mr. President") as well as think about boys ("Pensando em Voce") and stay out all night ("Make it Last.") Pearls Negras caught the attention of English producers David Alexander and Jan Blumentrath (who've previously worked with queer rap group Yo! Majesty) after performing locally and they produced the mixtape.
The result is a mixtape that has some of the same tropical, booty-shaking beats of baile funk, but packs a much harder punch. The beats by Alexander and Blumentrath manage to be huge and hulking without veering off into fratboy rave territory, giving the girls a bigger platform from which to rain down their feisty verbal attacks in both English and Portuguese.
Download their mixtape here, or just watch the video for "Pensando em Voce":