Arts & Entertainment

Baile funk hit becomes anthem of Brazil’s vaccination drive

By Alba Santandreu

Sao Paulo, Jan 21 (efe-epa).- Baile funk, a musical genre that originated in the favelas, or slums, of Rio de Janeiro more than two decades ago, reached audiences far beyond Brazil’s borders in 2017 thanks to the smash hit “Bum bum, tam tam,” a song whose risque lyrics and catchy beat made it the first music video from that country to hit 1 billion views on YouTube.

Nearly four years after its release, that track now has emerged as the de facto anthem of Brazil’s recently launched vaccination drive.

The song experienced a revival after the Sao Paulo state government sought emergency-use approval for the CoronaVac, a vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech in partnership with Brazil’s Instituto Butantan, which is affiliated with the Sao Paulo state health department.

That resurgence was owing to the similarity between the name of that world-renowned epidemiological center and the title of the song by MC Fioti, 26-year-old baile funk artist who has transformed his hit into an ode to the vaccine.

“I have the sense of having participated in the (rollout) of the vaccine. We’ve had a very tough year. We’ve suffered a lot and I’m happy to pass on information to people and influence them. The vaccine is our salvation,” the artist said in an interview with Efe at his recording studio in Sao Paulo.

After the CoronaVac received emergency approval, MC Fioti decided to rework the song with lyrics encouraging people to get the vaccine, which began to be administered on Monday. The new videoclip was recorded at Instituto Butantan.

The adapted version of the song has the following lyrics: “A vacina saliente / vai curar muita vida e salvar muita gente. Vem ca vacina, tam / Vem ca vacina tam tam tam” (The new vaccine’s gonna cure a lot of lives and save a lot of people. Come vaccine tam. Come vaccine tam tam tam)

“You know when you do something for the people? That’s the sense I’m getting through funk,” MC Fioti said.

Baile funk emerged in the 1990s in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, featuring rhythms and lyrics that reflected the lives of young people in the poorest areas of the Cidade Maravilhosa.

Because it explored realities of violence and drug trafficking in marginalized areas of Brazil, the genre was initially stigmatized by more affluent segments of the population.

But over time it has started to make inroads in all sectors of society and become one of the country’s most popular genres.

Thanks to “Bum bum tam tam,” urban music is working hand-in-hand with medicine and science and has become a tool to combat the vaccine skepticism of rightist President Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters.

“A lot of people don’t believe (in the vaccine). There are people who think we’re going to turn into a caiman,” MC Fioti said, referring to a joke Bolsonaro uttered while pointing out that pharmaceutical companies are protected from liability in the event of an allergic reaction or injury from the Covid-19 vaccines.

“That doesn’t exist. It’s a lie, but people believe it.”

“The important thing is the message. You didn’t believe (in the vaccine) yesterday, but you’re my fan, you follow my work, and the message I’m giving you is, “let’s be real, get vaccinated.” EFE-EPA


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