Funk isn’t really a style associated with black mainstream music much anymore. Back in the 70s funk artists like James Brown, The Ohio Players and Kool and The Gang were the sound of the streets and in the 80s artists like Rick James, Prince and Cameo made sure real funk was never far from the airwaves. And for a large part of the 90s, of course, hip hop was driven by funk samples, but after that it seemed things slowly started to change.
Nowadays, it seems that funk has long been taking a backseat to other styles of music and isn’t the creative force it once was in black pop. That’s how it is, things go in cycles, but thankfully The Funk never really goes away. Across the globe many artists and record labels are keeping The Funk alive and exploring new and interesting ways of approaching it.
In the past few years, especially, a musical movement inspired by 80s synth funk and boogie has started to take shape. It’s been labeled Modern Funk and in this article I will spotlight a few of the artists associated with it. I will also be posting a Modern Funk mix very soon, so stay tuned for that.
One of the first artists to really drag The Funk out of it’s hibernation was Dam Funk from Pasadena, Califorinia. The musician, vocalist and producer signed to Stones Throw Records in 2007 and released the well received Toeachizown in 2009. Around this time he also started getting airplay from several influential DJs and his synth funk/boogie influenced sound became very influential in shaping the Modern Funk movement.
The multi talented Reggie B from Topeca, Kansas comes from a family background steeped in jazz, gospel and funk. Which might explain why he’s been making musical power moves since an early age. Reggie is a musician, singer, producer, arranger and label owner who has released five solo albums and collaborated with artists like DJ Spinna and Onra. He describes his work as “future music”. A fitting title for his intergalactic funk n soul.
Multi-instrumentalist, producer and remixer Brian Ellis har worked with everyone from electro pioneer Egyptian Lover to veteran house/techno producer Moodyman. His music knows no boundaries and over a number of solo albums he has explored many different genres including free jazz, psychedelic and world music. He is, however, also very at home with The Funk.
California hip hop in the 90´s was ruled by G-funk. Nowadays that sound isn’t very common, but Japanese-American producer XL Middleton keeps funkin’ on. The Pasadena-based artist went from being a hip hop artist who sampled funk records to a modern funk musician who cooks everything up from scratch. So far his sound has benefited artists like Crooked I, Mistah Fab and Cashis.
Like most African American music forms funk originated in the south. So it’s no surprise it’s still alive and well down there. Tryezz is a modern funk producer from Tenessee who has been around for a while but doesn’t get quite as much exposure as he should if you ask me. Hopefully that will change in the future.