Drake borrowed a jolt of energy from the speedy Brazilian genre known as baile funk on Wednesday when he remixed MC Kevin o Chris’ streaming hit “Ela é do Tipo.”
MC Kevin o Chris originally released “Ela é do Tipo” in March. The single’s whiplash-inducing swings from airy to punchy proved popular, amassing more than 80 million streams on Spotify. A YouTube video that features the MC cheerfully driving a Volkswagen bus through the sky picked up another 16 million views.
Baile funk hits are sparse and hard-driving, sometimes reaching tempos of 150 beats per minute. The tracks often contain little more than a single vocal line, a twisting melodic motif, and bounding programmed percussion. Drake has never operated in this setting before, but he treats “Ela é do Tipo” the same way he treats R&B tracks, singing soft, glum lines about a dysfunctional romance. Drake starts out as the callous guy — “the first time I saw you I wasn’t thinking of you and I/I was just thinking of I” — and ends up lovelorn and pining: “Try, you won’t even try.”
The “Ela é do Tipo” remix appears to mark the return of Drake’s international interest. The star spent much of 2015, 2016, and 2017 trying to elevate music from abroad — Nigerian afrobeats, U.K. grime, Jamaican dancehall — especially on More Life, a “playlist” that functioned as a sprawling, curious album. On 2018’s massive Scorpion album, however, he re-focused on rap and R&B, the styles that made him a star.
Drake is not the only artist looking at Brazil. Baile funk started to attain new levels of global exposure in 2017, in part because the genre performs extremely well on YouTube — KondZilla, one of the ten most popular YouTube channels in the world, is entirely devoted to baile funk.
Once major labels realized how popular the genre was, they began to look for ways to reach baile funk’s enthusiastic listeners. Universal Music picked up MC Fioti’s “Bum Bum Tam Tam” — the first billion-view baile funk video — and released a remix with Future and J Balvin. 2 Chainz and French Montana appeared on a remix to another major Brazilian hit, MC Kevinho’s “Olha a Explosão.”
With help from Drake, MC Kevin o Chris may enjoy a rare privilege for a baile funk artist: charting in the U.S.