"Proibidão is a way of speaking out about the problems in the favela," he says. "It's protesting in a song form, but it's not about causing problems. It's about highlighting the issues that are happening right now in the favelas. It has a consciousness. In truth, there's discrimination against funk. The same thing happened with samba and look at it today."
One frequenter to these underground funk balls tells a different story. "These balls are all bankrolled by drug trafficking," says "J.R.," a partygoer who did not want to use his real name.
"The balls run by the Comando Vermelho are more organized. Outside the area where the ball takes place is completely surrounded by their guys, all armed to the teeth with AK-47s, M-16s and grenades, but weapons are totally forbidden inside," he says, adding, "It's not the case with the balls run by the rival gang [such as] the Terceiro Comando, which is mainly made up of kids who are only 14, 15 and 16 years old. There you have guys carrying weapons inside as well."
And in these balls, the gangs have a marketing ploy: free drugs.
"It's all about the drugs," J.R. says. "Indoors there are 'drug markets,' tables with lines of cocaine — all for free — and guys shouting out their orders: 'Black or white!,' marijuana or cocaine. It's a kind of goodwill effort on the part of the traffickers."
And along with the drugs and the weapons, exploitation of young girls also is part of the scene.
"You see girls as young as 10 years old drugging themselves at these parties and offering themselves to the big drug dealers as a way of getting security," J.R. says. "And not just the young girls but also rich girls from Rio's southern zone as well, who are totally addicted to coke."
Despite the riotous scenes of the illegal balls, funk carioca has been gaining steam since it successfully crossed over into the mainstream.
In the Rocinha favela complex, the largest and most famous shantytown in all of Brazil, funk matinees are held every Sunday in the local dancehall, Emoções. It's a way of turning the funk ball into a family affair, with parents invited to come and participate.
Carlinhos Santos Roque has been organizing these family-orientated funk parties for a few years.
"Here it's calm. No one will mess with you, as it's protected," Carlinhos says, referring to the gangs that control the favela. "People come here to Rocinha from all over the place, even players from the national soccer team like Ronaldinho. It's important because it makes the community safer."
Critics disagree on what funk carioca really represents for Brazilians' self-image. Some dispute how a heavy beat or a lewd lyric can really change a community for the better, but those actually living in the favelas claim that through funk their voices are being heard.
"Funk came out of the poor communities, just like rap and hip-hop," Carlinhos says. "Poorer people usually make their way out of the ghetto through sport, music or even something illegal. Funk is just one opportunity for people to make something of themselves through music."