It's Brazilian Funk Time! A Journey Through the Rise of Funk Carioca

A genre with a storied past, Brazilian funk, or funk carioca, is spreading globally with the help of TikTok, YouTube, and superstar funk artists like Anitta and MC Ryan SP.

It's Brazilian Funk Time! A Journey Through the Rise of Funk Carioca
Leo Morel
Leo Morel
August 22, 20237 min read
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Brazilian funk (also known as funk carioca) has risen to become one of Brazil's most popular musical styles, gaining international recognition along the way. Despite being on the receiving end of deep-rooted prejudice, this genre birthed by Black artists is using platforms like YouTube and TikTok to give voice to its musical style.

The international popularization of funk has encouraged artists like Brazilian superstar Anitta to get closer to their artistic essences. In June, the singer released the song "Funk Rave," marking the artist's return to funk after years of recording pop and reggaeton. In April 2022, Anitta’s Chartmetric Artist rank peaked at 21 thanks to her funk-inspired album Version Of Me.

"Brazilian funk is my roots. It's what I was born and raised doing. It's home to me. I made this new music with the intention of showing everyone those roots, what's most important to me, and leading with 'Funk Rave' does exactly that," Anitta said about the new release.

The Early Days of Funk

Brazilian funk, a genre that originated in the 1980s, draws influences from hip-hop, North American funk, and rap subgenres such as Miami bass and gangsta rap. One of the scene's founding producers, DJ Marlboro, played a pivotal role in its early days by creating Portuguese versions of popular Miami bass songs. In 1989, he released the album Funk Brasil, which was responsible for igniting the growth of this formerly local music scene across the region.

Initially associated with violence and sex, funk began to gain wider acceptance when it went from the Bailes funk (parties where carioca funk is played) in the favelas of Rio to the parties of wealthy, upper-class citizens. To change the genre's narrative and expand its reach across social classes, the Brazilian Phonographic Industry started investing in funk artists with romantic themes. Hits like "Nosso Sonho" by Claudinho & Buchecha and "Me Leva" by Latino would help elevate these artists to stardom in Brazil. Still, despite its newfound success, funk continued to face ire in the 1990s.

The 21st century saw funk's domination of mainstream Brazilian media, with artists featured in soap opera soundtracks and inspiring new trends. Funk ostentação, a subgenre focused on showing off wealth, emerged in São Paulo in 2010 as a counterpart to Rio de Janeiro funk, which portrayed the reality of lower-income communities.

Around the same time, the advent of digital technologies made it possible for independent artists to enter the music market. YouTube gave voice to artists from musical genres, such as funk and brega, that the Brazilian entertainment industry had marginalized for years. The platform also played a significant role in launching and reinventing the music video format, with producer KondZilla leading the way. KondZilla, who in addition to founding both a record label and clothing line has also produced a Netflix series, proved instrumental in the success of funk artists such as MC Guimê, MC Kevinho, MC Kekel, and Dani Russo.

Since then, Brazilian funk has experienced exponential domestic and global growth, even attracting non-Brazilian artists. Collaborations with international artists such as Ty Dolla $Sign, Skrillex, and Snoop Dog on tracks like Mc Lan’s “Malokera” and Ludmilla’s “Onda Deferente”, have further cemented its global appeal. In fact, during the 2023 Super Bowl, Rihanna performed a funk remix of her hit "Rude Boy,” and the original version gained 20 million new Spotify streams in the month following the performance.

In 2022, the Brazilian music market generated an estimated annual revenue of 2.5 billion reais (USD 489 million), according to IFPI's 2023 Global Music Report. This was a 15.4% growth compared to the previous year, placing Brazil among the top ten music industry markets and displaying the power of funk among other local genres on a global scale.

Social Media Fuels Funk’s International Streaming Succes

TikTok has served as one of Brazil's leading apps for music promotion, and funk is quickly becoming one of the most popular musical styles on the platform. This digitization has allowed for the expansion of artist fan bases to rural regions, specifically in areas away from the urban centers where the genre emerged.

Internationally, the platform is also fueling several subgenres of Brazilian funk, with one of the most popular being funk automotive. Characterized by strong beats with intense bass frequencies, the genre was created specifically to be appreciated and consumed using car sound systems. The track "Automotivo Bibi Fogosa" by Bibi Babydoll and DJ Brunim XM is just one example of automotive funk that went viral on TikTok, where it now dominates the platform's charts in numerous countries including Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands.

"Automotivo Bibi Fogosa" is also present in Spotify's global chart rankings, most prominently in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, where it peaked at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Due to automotive funk's similarities with electronic music, the genre has been able to resonate with dozens of countries around the world—particularly in Eastern Europe.

Other influential moments for funk automotive include “Tubarão Te Amo,” which went viral during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Sung and produced by DJ LK da Escócia and featuring MC Ryan SP, MC Daniel, MC Jhenny, and MC RF, the track peaked at No. 3 on the Daily Viral Songs USA chart and grew by 30 million Spotify streams just six months after its release. On TikTok, "Tubarão Te Amo" presented an impressive growth from just 90k posts at the start of the games to two million posts after the series' conclusion.

Later in 2023, the track was used again when the Jamaican Women's National team danced to the song following an exciting win over Brazil.


COLOCAMOS AS JAMAICANAS PARA DANÇAR! 🇯🇲🤪 Pelo menos, de forma LITERAL... TNTSportsComElas Crédito: kameronsimmonds #TikTokEsportes #SportsNews

♬ som original - TNT Sports Brasil - TNT Sports Brasil

Another subgenre of Brazilian funk funding success on TikTok is tamborzão, or big beat. Drawing elements from the early days of funk, the track "Tá Ok" by Dennis Dj and Kevin O Chris went viral on TikTok and occupied the top 5 on Spotify in countries including France, Ireland, Morocco, and Portugal. The track also proved monumental for both artists, helping Dennis Dj climb 180 spots and Kevin O Chris 323 spots in the Chartmetric Artist Rankings.

Women in Funk

In the realm of music, particularly within the sphere of Brazilian funk, the landscape has historically been predominantly male-centric, which has sometimes resulted in an unwelcoming environment for female artists. As a result, female funk pioneers like Anitta and Ludmilla sought to direct their careers toward the pop segment first. This allowed them to expand their audience while avoiding the prejudices suffered from funk's association with drug practices.

For example, Anitta originally launched herself in 2011 as MC Anitta, but let go of the honorific the following year to steer her career towards pop fans, as the term MC ("Master of Ceremony") is commonly used by rap and hip-hop artists, specifically those in Brazilian funk. The same decision was then made by Ludmilla, who appeared in the market first as MC Beyoncé in 2012, but later changed her stage name due to trademark registration issues. Even the singer Lexa, who debuted in 2013 as MC Lexa, waived the term MC to adopt a more pop-oriented appearance.

Due to their audience tactics, these three women in funk are often not recognized as Brazilian funk performers, despite their prominence in the scene's market. That being said, Anitta is just one of the many women who are striving to reconnect with their funk roots. Her June 2023 single, "Funk Rave," currently exceeds 30k posts on TikTok, 17 million Spotify streams, and 14.5 million YouTube views on the track's music video following its release.

The Future of Funk Carioca

There is great potential for Brazilian funk artists to develop global careers. Collaborative productions with international artists will continue to be an excellent tool to promote Brazilian funk and its artists beyond the borders of Brazil. Releasing songs in other languages, especially English and Spanish, is an additional step artists can take to achieve more wide-reaching success, as Portuguese can be an obstacle to the dissemination of Brazilian funk songs in the global market. Thanks to its urban musical style, fans of genres such as rap and reggaeton can easily identify with and enjoy Brazilian funk.

10 Essential Funk Artists

MC Cidinho e Doca

Chartmetric Artist Rank - 61,967
Subgenre - Deep funk carioca
Hometown - Rio De Janeiro

Claudinho & Buchecha

Charmetric Artist Rank – 24,260
Subgenre – funk melody
Hometown – Rio de Janeiro


Charmetric Artist Rank – 22,333
Subgenre – funk melody
Hometown – Rio de Janeiro

MC Daleste

Charmetric Artist Rank – 43,858
Subgenre – funk carioca
Hometown – São Paulo

MC Guime

Charmetric Artist Rank – 8,872
Subgenre – Brazilian hip-hop
Hometown – Oscaso

MC Kevin o Chris

Charmetric Artist Rank – 662
Subgenre – funk 150 bpm
Hometown – Duque de Caxias

MC Ryan SP

Charmetric Artist Rank – 554
Subgenre – funk paulista
Hometown – São Paulo

MC Cabelinho

Charmetric Artist Rank – 735
Subgenre – trap funk
Hometown – Rio de Janeiro


Charmetric Artist Rank – 2,612
Subgenre – funk paulista
Hometown – São Paulo

MC Backdi e BioG3

Charmetric Artist Rank – n/a
Subgenre – funk ostentação
Hometown – São Paulo

Graphics by Sarah Kloboves and cover image by Crasianne Tirado; data as of August 21, 2023.