This documentary follows one man's efforts to better his own life and the community he calls home. Anderson Sá grew up in the ghettos of Rio de Janeiro (known locally as "favelas"), where drug dealing, gangs, corrupt police officials, and violence were a common part of daily life. However, Sá came to realize that the life he was living was a dead end, and gave up selling drugs and gang life to become a community activist. Sa also had musical talent, as did a handful of like-minded friends, and together they began fusing the energy and immediacy of hip-hop with the hypnotic grooves of reggae, creating a new sound called afro-reggae in the process. Favela Rising follows Sá and his comrades as they share the story of his violent past, his vision of a better future for the favelas of Brazil, and the crucial message behind their music.