When I filmed the RED LIGHT RIO project with Aline, I would write down the music I heard playing in Vila Mimosa. It was usually funk, sometimes 80’s throwback or Michael Jackson, always at audially excessive decibel levels.

There was one song in regular rotation called “Vila Mimosa,” a funk anthem to the red light district. And the artist who made it was MC Serginho.

MC Serginho is one of the classic artists of Rio’s funk movement. He was a DJ at a community radio station who dreamed of becoming a soccer player, until he made a song called “Vai Serginho,” inspired by a woman he was dating who would tell him, “Vai, Serginho, não para não” [Go, Serginho, don’t stop] when they were making love. If you can track down an old recording of the song, you’ll hear Serginho himself voicing his lover on the track.

The song launched MC Serginho into the stratosphere of the Rio funk microcosm, and he took his neighbor and friend, Lacraia, with him as his creative partner and dancer.

Serginho and Lacraia hit their climax when I moved to Rio in 2002. Their songs “Vai, Lacraia” and ” Egüinha Pocotó” were part of the soundtrack for my year abroad.

A lot of people (particularly in Rio) hate on Rio funk music because of the explicit lyrics, and would have you believe that all Rio funk music is hard core, pornographic, or otherwise degrading to women.

That’s a dramatic over-simplification of a sprawling genre whose 2013 descendants include gay twerk crews, tween twerk crews, ostentatious funk (funk ostentação) of the “bitches and money” variety, a decidedly pro-homo passinho dance movement, and a whole bunch of lady funk singers speaking for themselves.

But back in 2003, Lacraia bucked generalizations of Rio funk as an exclusively hetero-normative playground, because Lacraia was gay. And Serginho was a pioneer in the funk movement for not giving a fuck. Serginho tells me in the early days, people would say, “Are you bringing this viado (faggot) with you?” And Serginho would reply, “Yes, I’m bringing my friend with me.”

When Lacraia died in 2011 of an unnamed chronic illness – the guess is AIDS – his sister said, “He was an example for a lot of people. He went all over the place, and people liked him a lot. A lot of people changed their opinion about gay people because of him.”

And Serginho has not stopped supporting the one love movement, most recently volunteering to sing at the 2013 Gay Pride Parade in São João de Meriti.

When I reached out to Serginho and asked to license his music for the Red Light Rio project, he did not hesitate to say “yes,” and he refused to accept any compensation, insisting on donating his music to the project.

Thank you MC Serginho. One love.


This is “Vila Mimosa”:


And “Dama da Noite”:


Check out MC Serginho on SoundCloud, @mcserginho on Twitter, mcserginhorj on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and his website.


RED LIGHT RIO music courtesy of MC Serginho. Editora NOWA and DJ Marlboro.

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