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What's Funky Music (Edition 2005)

A short personal explanation
An analysis of the Funk styles and the most important representatives (artists) of those styles


This short introduction does not cover all aspects of Funky Music. I have analysed, structured and commented on its evolution from the viewpoint of a Funk music collector and I gave priority to the music compared with other aspects such as cultural background of Funky Music. Therefore the most of the information is focused on the music itself, that means, on the musicians, the music tracks, the records year of release and so on. As such this particular history of Funk is not definitive, because there is a considerable amount of information about the socio-political environment out of which Funk was growing off that is missing . Therefore, where it is of significance, I refer to various information sources (books, websites …) where further information can be looked up in more detail.

The basis for this analysis about Funk, was the database containing 15'000 LPs, 45s, 12"s and CDs. Where artists and/or tracks are listed explicitly it's there to understand as a representative excerpt and is not a claim on completeness.

What's "Funk" ?

First of all, we should be able to define what "Funky Music" is or at least, what it seems to be. But that's not easy. There is not a single, global definition that would make it clear to everyone when talking about "Funk" as a music style. I asked a lot of collectors "what is Funk" and found that I received more funny replies than really helpful explanations. If you ask for a serious definition you will usually get "silence". Besides the more common aspects when analysing Funk as music (see below) Funk seems to be a personal thing to some extent. That's also the reason why some people hear the Funk in tracks where others don't. But there is one thing (my opinion) that all Funk music should have in common:

"Funk is that bumpy & groovy sound
that his your belly
sends out waves through the whole body
making you move your feet,
nod your head and feeling allright"

As mentioned above I try to give light to some aspects that might help you to form your own definition of where Funk begins and ends.

Funk: "A Time-Period"

Funk evolved between 1960-1965 from the already established music styles of "Soul, Gospel, Blues, Jazz, R & B". It's not possible to completely define which style has mostly contributed to the formation of Funk. Funk seems rather to be a product of a parallel, music-style crossover evolution where the first mixed forms of Funky Music developed from the already existing music styles (Soul-Funk, Blues-Funk, Soul-Jazz and so on).

If the period could be defined as a space of time within which the style was still evolving, then the period reaches from 1963 until today (2005), thus some 40+ years. That over 40 year period can be structured according the significance that the years had on the life-cycle of Funk as follows (see also in appendix 1 "Charted and Non-Charted Records", the column "Scale of Importance":

Periods Phases Explanations
1963-1966 Beginning

The Funk style developed, groups were founded (whereas they did not consider themselves as Funk groups.

1967-1978 Full Bloom

The full bloom of Funk - 70% of all "good" Funk recordings were released on vinyl or styrene

1979-1987 Displacement & Stagnation

Disco/Pop/Rap and ice-cold Synthesizer-Funk were displacing the earthy Old-School-Funk style. Funk disappeared almost completely. It's the saddest period in the history of Funk. With the lack of new Funk releases Funk lovers had to look to the past.

1988-1991 New Adjustment

Retro-Reflection but also working on a new focus of the Old-School-Funk – Reunion of old and the founding of new Funk groups (partially Funk got back a rougher tone again)

 1992-1996  Revival

The "New Old-School-Funk" developed using new technology but now rediscovered an earthy tone (CDs partially replaced vinyl records).

The "Authentic Old-School-Funk" was revived using 1:1 those old instruments and technology as it was made between 1967 – 1972, including new releases on the 7" format. The big merit for this belongs without a doubt to à "Poets of Rhythm" ...
Poets1  Poets2

... "The Poets of Rhythm" live at the Funkhouse (Switzerland) in 1994/95

 1997-2005  Scene Culture

Funk remains an "insider- respectively scene-style" (measured from airplay) and shares therefore the destiny of many music styles. Nevertheless Funk has its fixed place in the world of music.

With new recordings and extensive reissuing, mainly on CD format, but after 2010 a lot of releases again on vinyl, young people could be reached with Funk and herewith preventing Funk from falling into oblivion again. In addition more and more Hip-Hop collectors were interested in the roots of their music and hence Funk regained more importance.

Very delightful the improving activities that pushed back the "Authentic Old-School-Funk" into limelight. A growing number of groups were founded to follow the path that Poets of Rhythm had paved (mainly in London and New York but by far not only), for example "Soul Providers" (USA), "Calypso King & The Soul Investigators" (FIN), "Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings" (USA), "Soul Destroyers" (UK), "New Mastersounds" (UK), "Brand New Rhythm" (CH), Bamboo's (AUS) and more. The original Funk sound got back on stage and almost unbelievably, the 45s vinyl format returned as preferable media for the group's music releases. At about the same time the reissuing of Funk 45s saw an upswing, making those rare and super-rare items available for the common collectors.

Funk: "Is Here & Now"

Since we now know that there is a lively scene culture going on, Funk is not only a past oriented thing, it's here and now, with reappearing old Funk stars but also with new band formations, consisting of fresh young musicians who play in the old spirit but contribute their own spice to it. It's important to mention that the new formations are not only average-quality revival bands but rather they are groups that able to give us Funk of a quality that compares to the Funk that was made when the music was in full bloom - both recorded and when performed live. One example besides many other new formed bands (with a mix of international musicians) giving us that funky sweaty jams, we can see here live on stage …


"The Brand New Rhythm" live at the Schüür (Switzerland) in 2002 / Courtesy of Bobesch Dill

"Here & Now" … and  almost "Everywhere"!

Funk originally evolved in the USA and as collectors know Funk is no longer a mainly US centred thing. Collecting is an internationally spread phenomenon with people loving the sounds all over the world. There is also a growing number of new, high quality Funk bands coming from many places from all over the world.

Funk: "An Attitude, a Life-Style, a Mean of Expression"

Funk grew out of a particular political and social environment in which "war and freedom" (Vietnam), "the claim for racial equality" (Martin Luther King) beside others, were important matters. On one hand this environment had it's influence on the evolution of Funk music (as it had on Rock), on the other hand Funk became a mean of expression for young black people (as witnessed most readily today in Rap and Hip-Hop) for their issues. Maybe the same could be addressed to Soul, but here we can see differences in the attitude and the means of expression.

Funk: --> directed outwards, a loud, more actively expressed claim for their interests

--> directed inwards, a low, more passively expressed desire for their interests

or say "Soul Music" asks for acceptance, "Funk Music" claims for acceptance!




Funk as a carrier/messenger for a critical attitude or even a positively expressed rebellion, by still holding onto a preservation of the joy of living, can be somewhat compared to blues. This is one impression that you have especially if your mother language is not English, because you first hear the instrumental aspect of the track. You might then listen carefully to its lyrics and may realize a serious or even sad content. But the overall impression remains, an even serious message was passed on in a positive way.

Life-style, attitudes and so on were also expressed by other means than the music itself. For example by the outfits of the musicians, from the dress-code haunted groups like James Brown's band, to groups with their colourful hippie- or carnival-like dresses like Parliament and Funkadelic, to groups where everybody was obviously free to dress in his on style, like …


"The Fabulous Mark III" / Courtesy of Gerald "Jazzman" Short

I don't mention the Fabulous Mark III purely for their outfits! Far from that, as a group who released one of the best and rarest up-tempo Funk tracks "Psycho", they stand for what is Funk all about.

More information about the history of Funk, about life-style and it's socio-cultural environment can be looked up in Ricky Vincent's book ""FUNK: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of the One" " (S.F. USA 1996).


Funk: "A live Party"

Funk stands also for "a great amount of people in party mood". That party mood, as well as defining the nature of Funk music, was emphasized by a great number of musicians in those Funk groups (usually 5 – 12 musicians).


   CrossBronxExpress BandonStage

"James Polk & The Brothers" C ourtesy of Gerald Short"    "Cross Bronx Expressway" Courtesy of Rainer Windisch"

Funk: "A Music-Style"

Generally there is the question of whether Funk is a music style of it's own or just spice which is added to other music styles? Funk as a raw, rhythmic version of Soul, Jazz, Blues, Afro, Latin, … and therefore rather a variation of a music style than a style on it's own?

Funk …

as a mixed cocktail of Soul, Blues, Jazz based on R&R and R&B with a little Gospel, Afro, Latin, Acid-Jazz or even Hip-Hop added from time to time?


as a message board where words or often just the groove expresses the message?


as a literally dirty/dusty transposition of a broad use of blue tonality, involving backbeat, groove synco-pation, with sometimes impulsive and literally over-heated vocals and freaked-out solos?


as music where you will hear slapping bass, wah wah guitar, hammond B3 organ and fender rhodes, horn breaks and rhythmic emphasised solos, outstanding and driving drums & percussion (sometimes supplemented by tambourine and handclapping).

… or is Funk even the sum of all these and maybe more ingredients?

Additionally it has to be mentioned, that the rhythm group is very much in the foreground and also the loudness of the bass plays an important role. Funk is performed by the musician, as it's said "out of the belly" and should reach the audience also there, instigating that earthy feeling. Remarkable in addition is that also solos are strongly bound in a rhythmic context, in the extreme case  a solo becomes almost a rhythm solo (take as example the trombone solos by Fred Wesley).

Nevertheless, a hint, that Funk was and partially is still today not noticed as its own style, is the fact, that in many US record stores for a long time there were the sections 'Soul', 'Jazz' … but often there was no section for 'Funk'. Depending on where the group or artist is generally filed under, the record can be found. Because there is actually no 'Soft'-Funk (that's mostly just 'Soul') and because LPs and 45s often contain tracks of both music styles, they are filed for the track on which the most people are going for and for the broad range of people, Soul and Jazz is of more importance and logically filed under these sections.

More Peculiarities of Funk

Funk is performed in a slow, up to fast version, but the most common Funk songs (vocal or instrumental) were recorded with beats between 85-125.

Often there is the question, "how do I recognize a Funk record"?. Naturally there is no real correct answer for that, but often (not always) Funk songs have a remarkable title. There is a certain experience needed to derive with certainty from it's title whether it is a Funk song or not (for example 'Doing their own thing', 'Get on down', 'Get on up and get into it', 'Fat bag',  'Shake that thing', 'Bump some booty', 'Do it, to it', 'Catch a groove', 'Come on down', 'Chicken bump', 'Itch and scratch',....). Often, such titles in connection with the label (record company), attributes of the LP cover (design, liner-notes …) respectively the label design of 45s (… and additional information) are very helpful in discovering an otherwise little known Funk song.

Did you miss the "Big Names" so far ?

Maybe you've noticed that almost everything about Funk was explained so far without reference to the Big Names like James Brown, Meters and all the others in the examples herein, and also the pictures show groups which represent more the underground scene. That was the whole intention! There are enough books that refer to the same super stars of Funk and completely ignore the less known groups. Sure, the famous ones deserve the attention, but the same do all those artists and groups who gave us super sounds but unfortunately never made it to big public attention for whatever reason. We should not forget that many members of later famous Funk groups  made their first appearances in such groups, and took with them some ideas which were developed in those groups and brought it into the famous ones. That was the base and source for the evolution of Funk, so some remarkable less known groups were put in front in this chapter.

The different Funk-Styles

So far I have attempted to describe "Funk" in general. To speak of "Funk", there should be mention of the particular  characteristics more or less.  But Funk, as I said before, exists in different variations. Funk was mixed with previous existing music styles, was derived from them.


Again, it's important to mention that the following definitions are far from being a universal, all encompassing and fully 'agreed' description of Funk styles. But nevertheless it's an attempt at giving the different variations a name (respectively a hold on names already established) with the purpose that you could express more clearly of what kind of Funk you are talking about. Therefore the below listed sample songs act as a reference. In case someone doesn't know what you mean when talking about "Soul-Funk" you could refer to the listed tracks to express more clearly what you mean.

Note: For this educational purpose, all sound-samples duration is limited to 2:30 min. and it's quality is limited to 128kbits sound-quality. To enjoy full length and full quality of these sounds, you are encouraged to buy the official releases on vinyl records, on CDs or other formats. The most of them are today available on reissues or compilations, therefore please support the musicians and buy these recordings on your favorised media.



1966 – 1972

With a hard rhythm, often only instrumental Funk.

Highlighters Band – The funky 16 corners … 1969 (45)
Richard Marks – I'm the man for you … 1969/1970 (45)
Maceo & All The Kingsmen – Better half … 1970 (LP)
Jimmy Bo Horne – Hey there Jim … 1970 (45)

It is not possible, to draw a exact line between "vocal"-Funk and Soul-Funk (James Brown and similar artists songs could often be filed under Funk or Soul-Funk)

James Brown – Cold sweat … 1967 (LP/45) often mentioned as 1. Funk-song


1968 - 1972, Archaic instrumental Funk, lively syncopated rhythm, out of New Orleans. Meters on “Josie”-label, later also Wild Magnolias and also a few Retro-Funk bands that played the same style.

Meters – Cissy strut … 1969 (LP/45)
Wild Magnolias - Hand a wanda ... 1974 (LP) with a tribal style influence
Transatlantics - Big chief ... 2008 (45)

1973 – today

Hard and virtuos rhythm, giving a heavy weight impression. Mostly songs with vocals (indeed only a few with female singers)

Mandrill – Positive thing … 1974 (LP/45)
Betty Davis – Git in there … 1974 (45)
Undisputed Truth - Poontang ... 1975 (LP/45)
Commodores - Brick house ... 1977 (LP/45)
Bar-Kays - Holy ghost ... 1978 (LP/12"/45)
Osiris - War on the bull shit ... 1982 (12")

After the ‘70s only a few artists continued to play the different funk styles the way they did in the ‘60s and ‘70s, instead some disappeared from the music scene and a lot moved towards the more electronic sounding Disco-Boogie Funk and Pop music. The singing became less hard and more in disco-soul-style, often accompanied by simple electronic hand-clapping and/or a drum-machine, but still with a funky slapping bass. Some like Zapp started to use a talk-box others used a vocoder.

Forrrce - Keep on dancin' ... 1985 (12")
Osiris - Total devastation ... 1986 (12")
Foster McElroy - Gotta be a better way ... 1989 (12")


Around 1988 onwards, along-side the development of Acid-Jazz and Nu-Funk, there was a revival of the ‘60s and ‘70s sounding funky music. Some, like the Poets of Rhythm, did it in a very “authentic” manner, others used modern instruments, amplifier and recording technologies resulting in a cleaner but still tough hard funky sound.

Poets of Rhythm - Funky train ... 1992 (45)
Clyde Stubblefield - Party's in the kitchen ... 1997 (CD)
Maceo Parker - Uptown up ... 2007 (CD)
Bo-Keys - Work that skirt ... 2009 (45)


1965 – 1972

Strong expression, partially even loud shouting vocals (female/male vocalists 50:50). Instrumentals are not Soul-Funk, they are Soul-Jazz, Jazz-Funk, Funk ...

James Brown – Get up I feel like being a sex machine … 1970 (LP/45)
Aretha Franklin – Rock steady … 1971 (LP/45)
Bobby Byrd - I know you got soul ... 1971 (45)

Some 'Soul-Funk' songs could also be filed under Blues-Funk, because it's musically often based on the blues pattern. For example ...

"Erma Franklin: Big boss man ... 1967" (45)
"Joe Kennedy: Funky time ... 1972" (45)


Bases mainly on spiritually text content and impulsive choral singing.

Violinaires – Grooving with Jesus … 1970 (LP)
Zion Jubilees - Ezekiel saw the wheel ... 1976 (45)
Lady Margaret & The Stovall Sisters - If it is let it be ... 1979 (45)

1973 – today

Meanwhile Soul-Funk and "Vocal"-Funk can hardly be distinguished. (except that the vocals of pure Funk sound harder, more aggressive and the songs mostly don't follow the blues pattern, see "Betty Davis")

Charlie Whitehead – Let's do it again … 1973 (45)
Esther Phillips – Fever … 1975 (45/LP)
Etta James - Mean mother ... 1980 (LP)
Lynne Kieran - Supernatural thing ... 1995 (12")
Nick Pride & The Pimptones - Deeper pimp ... 2009 (45)


1967 – today

Blues-Funk has a more syncopated bass- and drums-rhythm compared with pure Blues, the blues-pattern is less present. The musician's solos are not only laid over the blues sound base in a melodic way but instead they partially pick up the rhythm, including it into the solos.

Lowell Fulsom – I'm a drifter … 1967 (45/LP)
Luther Allison – That's what love will make you do … 1976 (LP)
James Cotton - Ying yang ... 1984 (LP)
Little Milton - That's what love'll make you do ... 1989 (LP)

Some 'Soul-Funk' songs could also be filed under Blues-Funk, because Soul-Funk has often the blues pattern as a sound base. Powerful female vocals along with Blues are not necessarily Blues-Funk. For example "Rock me baby" by Hodges, James & Smith, 1973 (LP) is a super Soul-Blues song, but definitively not Funk!


1963 – today

Mostly instrumental Jazz with a steady laid back groove, often based on the blues pattern but performed more rhythmically accentuated, slightly syncopated funky bass, virtuoso funky drums, and a lot of, often extensive solos. The mainly organ-based sound gives a loose warm impression, partially impulsive, but not as technically and syncopated as Jazz-Funk.

In contrast to "Funk"-bands with their mostly same members forming a group for a time-period, Soul-Jazz is often performed by (studio) musicians who founded bands in ever changing composition (best example the musicians under contract of the labels such as “Prestige”, “Blue Note”, “Groove Merchants”, who helped out each other to record under their own names). Some musicians moved between Soul-Jazz and Jazz-Funk.

Earl Van Dyke – The flick … 1965 (45)
Johnny "Hammond" Smith – Soul talk … 1969 (LP/45)
Eddie Harris – Get on down … 1975 (LP/45)
Lionel Hampton & Friends - Psychedelic sally ... 1980 (LP)
Paul Weller Movement - That spiritual feeling ... 1991 (12")
Sugarman Three - So long donkey ... 2000 (LP)
Perceptions - Loopy doopy ... 2009 (45)



It developed in the UK around 1988. Acid-Jazz is a musical genre that combines elements of Jazz, Funk and Hip-Hop, particularly looped beats. Focused on the dance-floor, partially reworked Soul-Jazz from the 70s. Notable Acid-Jazz bands of the 1990s included Brand New Heavies, Incognito, James Taylor Quartet as well as a lot of less known artists.

Vibraphonic – I see you … 1991 (LP "Totally Wired 6")
Two Darn Hot – Retro-active … 1991 (LP "Totally Wired 6")
Brand New Heavies - O-fa-fu ... 1992 (12")


1970 – today

Jazz accentuated, technically very pretentious instrumental Funk with a prominent back beat and often extended performed solos by all instruments, very rarely with vocals. In contrast to pure Funk, Jazz-Funk involves many white musicians.

Herbie Hancock – Chameleon ... 1974 (LP/45)
Jimmy Smith - Free ride ... 1980 (LP)
Nils Landgren Funk Unit - Cannonball ... 1996 (CD)


In the late '70s some musicians and groups like Dave Grusin, David Sanborn or Native Son developed a clinically cool Jazz-Funk (Fusion). High-end recordings, very often produced in Japan, with a sound far away from the roots.

Native Son – Evolution of the nights … 1984 (LP)


Similar to Jazz-Funk but mostly with a dominant rocky guitar for rhythm and long improvised solos.

Joe Farrell – Upon this rock … 1974 (LP)
Idris Muhammad – Power of soul … 1974 (45/LP)


Some songs from classic music were interpreted in a funky way. For example "Also sprach Zarathustra' by Richard Strauss was recorded by "Deodato" as a Jazz-Funk version and known to the most as soundtrack to the movie "Odyssey 2001". This song was recorded in different versions by a couple of groups, like by the "Spacemen" 1973 (on Dash), by the "Galactic Light Orchestra" aka Peter Herbolzheimer (on Polydor), by the "Prophetic Band" (on AZ), all from 1973 and super funky version.

Deodato – Also Sprach Zarathustra … 1972 (LP)


1966 – today

Latin-Funk/-Jazz has adjusted the rhythm of percussion, congas and bongos towards the Funk rhythm, with a more syncopated drummer, while the sound as a whole keeps it's Latin touch. Often there is a trumpet instead of a sax present as solo instrument.

Jamo Thomas – Jamo's soul … 1966 (45)
Mongo Santamaria – Cold sweat … 1968 (LP/45)
Ray Barretto - Together ... 1972 (LP/45)
Setenta - Tcha soul ... 2009 (45)


1968 – today

In Afro-Funk/-Jazz, the fast African percussion is supplemented with funky bass, often accompanied by horns and outstanding solos. The lyrics are partially in African language. Most Afro-Funk of the '70s came from musicians and groups out of Nigeria, Ghana and Ivery Coast.

Manu Dibango – Soul makossa … 1973 (LP/45)
Kelenkye Band - Brotherhood of man … 197? (LP)
Marijata – Mother africa … 1976 (LP)
Shunters - Nwankpi is a cow … 1982 (LP)
Kokolo - The way up … 2007 (45)


1970 – today

The P-Funk Family consists of all musicians around George Clinton. Beside that there are only a few groups who also practice that Funk style (for example "Trama")

In the early days of the 70s, many of these songs could also be filed under Funk-Rock.

Funkadelic – Hit it and quit it … 1971 (LP/45)
Parliament – Red hot momma … 1971 (45)

From the mid 70s on, P-Funk tended towards futuristic space sound, with partially dissonant Funk elements and often strange intermezzos, horn parts and choral-singing.

Parliament – Big footin' … 1974 (LP)
Bernie Worrell – Insurance man for the Funk … 1979 (45)
Bootsy's Rubber Band - Disciples of funk … 1990 (CD)
O.G.Funk - Funkadelic groupie … 1993 (CD)


1967 – today

Rock, adjusted by Funk-bass and –drums, often enriched with outstanding Fender-Rhodes-Piano parts, as well as with percussion. Some tracks of the so-called Southern-Rock groups, like "Little Feet" sound alike.

Jon-Lee Group - Pork chops … 1967 (45)
Ballin' Jack - Never let 'em say … 1970 (LP)
Bob Seger – Bo Diddley … 1972 (LP)
Lenny Kravitz - Tunnel vision … 1995 (10")
Deep Street Soul feat. Tia Hunter - Kick out the jams … 2009 (45)


1974 –

Mostly songs with vocals, commercialised, softened Dance-Funk. The break through came with the movies "Saturday Night Fever" + "Car wash".

Rose Royce – Car wash ... 1976 (LP/45)
Watt Elektrik Funk Band - Welcome to the party ... 1977 (45)
Jimmy "Bo" Horne – Dance across the floor ... 1978 (LP/45)… maybe most typical Disco track
Brummels - Disco roll ... 1980 (45)


Around 1982 the sound of Disco-Funk and Disco turned more and more into using electronic instead of acoustic instruments. Drums were replaced by drum-machines and/or the bass guitar was replaced by synthesizers. Along with this, the sound changed from the earthy warm sound of the 70s, to the rather artifical cold sound in the 80s, mainly the productions from 1983 - 1989.  A lot of so-called boogie-funk sounds more like disco than funk.

Zapp - Playin kinda ruff ... 1982
George Clinton – Atomic dog ... 1982

Herbie Hancock – Rock it ... 1983
Bubba Thomas – Livin on love ... 1985
Africa Bambaataa – Funk jam party ... 1986

Bar-Kays – Struck by you ... 1988


1968– 1978

Forerunners of Rap …

1968 there was Pigmeat Markham's "Here comes the judge", a comedy style funk song. Indeed the recitative vocals were heavily pronounced by the accompanying drums with similar rhythm patterns. The drummer played funky, the singer was rapping. (# 4 in the R&B charts). Rudy Ray Moore and Blowfly can be considered to be forefathers of rap as well. Then in 1977 came out the Last Poets "Blessed are those who struggle", that was already very similar to the later Rap style, the drummer was already more in the background.

1979– 1986

Rap / Hip-Hop music developed around disc jockeys who created rhythmic beats by looping breaks (small portions of songs emphasizing a percussive pattern) on two turntables, which is now more commonly referred to as sampling. This was later accompanied by "rapping", a rhythmic style of chanting. In a way, there is a fluent transition between Rap and Hip Hop. The main differences of later Hip-Hop sub-styles based mainly on the different flow of rhyme style. For our view on funky Hip-Hop, these differences are not of importance, and therefore will not be described in more detail here.

There is some controversy of which is the first hip hop recording:
Sugarhill Gang's Rapper's Delight or Fatback Band: King Tim III (Personality Jock) both released 1979.

A good example for fast rapping with funky bass and drums is the following …
Spoonie Gee & The Treacherous Three: The new rap language … 1980 (12”)

Following sample shows Rap/Hip-Hop with heavy electronic bass and percussion in Go-Go style …
Grandmaster Melle Mel: Pump me up … 1985 (12”)


Between 1980 – 1988, Go-Go Funk developed in the music scene around Chuck Brown (Washington D.C.), as something between Funk, Rap and Hip Hop, with a lot of percussion, where the essential beat is strongly syncopated and accompanied by call-and-response vocals with the crowd in concert.

Trouble Funk: Hey fellas … 1982 (LP).
Chuck Brown: I need some money … 1984 (12”)

1987– today

From 1987 until the mid ‘90s more Rap / Hip-Hop artists were going to play partially harder hitting Hip-Hop Funk. Heavy bass und funk drums, using loops based on old Funk songs taken from 45s and LPs of records from 1965-1975 or doing a full Hip-Hop version of an original funk song of the past.

Rework of original by…

Cookie Crew – Females get on up … 1987 (12”) … (original by James Brown)
Eric B. & Rakim - I know you got soul … 1987 (12”) … (original by Bobby Byrd)
Public Enemy - Fight the power … 1989 (12”)
Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. – Don’t mess … 1990 (LP) … (original by Mandrill)
Salt-n-Pepa - Whatta man … 1991 (12”) … 1st female Rap-Group(original by Linda Lyndell)
Young Black Teenagers - Korner groove … 1991 (LP) … (original by Eddie Harris)
Maxi Jazz – Don’t stop now honey … 1992 (12”) … (original by Meters)
JC-001 & D-Zire - Ride the break … 1993 (CD)
CPS - The phonkey man … 1995 (12”)
Public Enemy -Revolverlution … 2002 (CD)
Superlover Cee & Casanova Rud – Super-casanova … 2008 (45)


1988– today

Nu-Funk developed parallel to Acid-Jazz, which itself based on Soul-Jazz, where on the other hand Nu-Funk is a partially re-worked contemporary form of the 1970s funk. The re-work focused mainly on getting a mid- to up-tempo funky dance-groove. During the 90s, the sound was enriched with more electronical effects as well as some re-mixing.

Diana Brown & Barrie K. Sharpe – The masterplan … 1990 (12”)
Children of Judah – Sayin‘ nothin ... 1994 (12”)
Metropolis – Metropolis raw dub … 1994 (12”)
Alex Gopher - Deux megatones ... 1996 (12“)
Liquid Soul - Cabbage roll … 1998 (CD)
Big Boss Man – Sea groove … 2000 (45)
Malente – Funk the rich … 2002 (45)
Random Heroes – Roll call … 2006 (45)
Ill Boogs – King conga … 2007 (45)

Remixed Nu-Funk:
Urban Soul feat. Roland Clark - Brown James … 2002 (12”)
Tim Wood - Taste of honey (Lack of afro remix) … 2006 (45)
Jazzinvaders - Up & out (Tim Wood remix) … 2006 (45) … with a Latin-funk touch
Cadillac Jones - B’nai brown (Ed Royal remix) … 2007 (12”)
Kokolo – Soul power (lack of afro mix) … 2008 (45) … with a Latin-/Afro-funk touch

Note:The for-mentioned new “authentic old-school” Funk, which came up with “Poets of Rhythm” in 1992, is not Nu-Funk. Instead it should be filed under Funk, because the year of recording is the almost only difference (some call it ”Retro-Funk”, because the main focus is to play and record a funk sound which sounds as similar to the late ‘60s and ‘70s as possible).


... And what's DEEP-FUNK?

The term "Deep-Funk" is partially misunderstood as it's own music style. But Deep-Funk has another background than being it's own music style or defining a variation of a Funk style. I would like to include here an extract of what Jason Stirland has written in his article "How deep is your Funk?" as an attempt to explain what's all about.  

Summarized quote in the form of an abstract (from the article by Jason Stirland):

The term "Deep-Funk" undoubtedly came into being via Keb Darge, a long term 'inmate' of the Northern Soul scene and renowned rare Funk 45 jock. There were of course many other people who had looked for and enjoyed similar sounds – even before the legendary out-spoken Scotsman took up the torch – but ...

The first definition of "Deep Funk" came in 1995/96 when Keb Darge, joined by all round good guy Mark Cotgrove (aka DJ Snowboy), ran their rare Funk nights in Central London.

... to conclude that only the records that are played at the club called 'Deep-Funk' define the term "Deep Funk", would be misleading. If the term "Deep Funk" could be neatly defined, then a lot of people would point to the sounds on the three 'Keb Darge's Legendary Deep Funk' compilations which document the sounds featured in his sets over a six year period. What makes this problematic is, that those albums contain tracks that don't fit into a supposed magical period of '68-73', furthermore the compilations featured even Modern Soul. To conclude that only the records that are played at the club called 'Deep-Funk' define the term "Deep Funk", would be misleading. If the term "Deep Funk" could be neatly defined, then a lot of people would point to the sounds on the three 'Keb Darge's Legendary Deep Funk' compilations which document the sounds featured in his sets over a six year period. What makes this problematic is, that those albums contain tracks that don't fit into a supposed magical period of '68-73', furthermore the compilations featured even Modern Soul.

"Deep Funk" is a label that distances itself from the more widely understood manifestations of the word "Funk". The creation of the "Deep Funk" scene was based on finding and introducing what some would describe as 'advanced dance floor records'. It's a pointless and near impossible task to attempt to attribute a rule to what makes one rare Funk sound "Deep" and the other not. Maybe the distinction should be drawn between the locally produced Funk records and the nation-wide distributed offerings. These distinctions may then go some way to explaining the difference in the feel , sound and spirit of the music.

"Deep Funk" followers have often been accused of subscribing to the scene purely for the rarity and exclusivity of it's music.

Own comment to the topic:

Analysing the so-called "Deep Funk" tracks, you can make out a few frequently common attributes:

  • obscure releases (hardly known artists, small independent labels, local productions)
  • often uptempo and instrumentals only
  • mostly available on 45s only
  • rare (and therefore in many cases expensive)
    Keb Darge's 1st Legendary Deep Funk Sampler, released 1997 >>>


All so-called "Deep Funk" tracks can be related to one and/or the other previously described variations of Funk, like "Funk, Soul-Funk, Soul-Jazz, ….". One important point shows us that it would be wrong to define "Deep Funk", as a variation of "Funk" like "Soul-Funk". As Keb Darge was focused as DJ onto 45s only, 99% of the so-called Deep-Funk tracks were obviously 45s releases. Consequently what ever a definition could be, it would have to be extended by "… on 45s only", because if it's available on LP only, no matter how 'deep' it is, it's consequently neglected by the scene, as if "Deep Funk" depends on the released 45s format. As an example, "Joe Lee & His Combo: Bottom of the bag" was 're-discovered' on 45 and declared as "Deep-Funk". Later it turned out that this track was originally issued on LP too. The track is still a must have Deep-Funk track for the collectors. Alternatively the "Invaders: Spacing out" album on the Duane label was never listed as a must have for Deep Funk collectors even the sound fits perfect to the other Deep Funk tracks.