The Triumphant Return of Funky Friday

 

Well, hi! Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve paid everyone a visit from Blogland, but hey … life. Lots is the same (still hacking away at novel No. 2, still doing the freelance thing for multiple happy clients) but some things are different (the addition of voice over to my ever-growing list of professional skills – more on that some other time).

But one thing does and always shall remain the same – my ongoing search for new R&B, soul and funk that meets my personal criteria for awesomeness. And on that note, ladies and gentlemen, I present the latest single from the lovely Ms. Janelle Monae, “Make Me Feel.”

It’s probably a disservice to file Ms. Monae into the slot of “Prince protege,” but it is true that she was working on her latest album with the Purple One before his tragic death in 2016 and that he hand given her a helping hand here and there in the early parts of her career. Prince being the prolific songwriter that he was, it’s suspected by many that somewhere in the vaults of Paisley Park Studios, there sits a cache of material of such gobsmacking quality that we mere mortals couldn’t even conceive of it.

That’s borne out by Monae’s new song, which is a Prince original composition that he gifted to the singer from that very vault. Honestly, the fact that such a collection of quality songs exists otherwise untapped to this day is one of the great tragedies of the 21st Century, but I digress. Let’s instead be glad that Monae – and the rest of us, by extention – was the beneficiary of one of his last bits of open generosity.

The song itself reads like a master class on what both Monae and Prince bring to the table – playful, hip-grinding pan-sexuality; lyrical fun; sonic surprises (the tongue clucks that set up the initial beat, for instance). The video, meanwhile, is like one long shout-out to Prince, referencing multiple looks he sported during his too-short career. Let’s count ’em off:

  • The glasses Janelle wears as the “performer” in the club
  • Her dancers
  • Her see-through pants
  • Her jewel mail veil-clad guitarist
  • The interplay between the female friend with whom she arrives at the club and the male friend she meets there (“Who should I take home, her or him? Let’s make it both!”)

Honestly, it’s almost like seeing something amazing in your kids that you once only associated with a beloved relative who’s since left this mortal coil. Our dear Janelle pays an incredible tribute to someone who served as a mentor for her and as a guide down the path of funk, soul, rock and pop for the rest of us, and it’s frankly wonderful to see.

Funky Friday: Sonny Knight and the Lakers Make New Sound Old

I’ve often joked that if I managed to make it to Heaven, I’d want my own horn section whose job would be to follow me around and punctuate my conversation with James Brown-style R&B call-and-response awesomeness.

More realistically, I’m constantly on the lookout for new bands that reach back to that classic soul sound and drag it (sometimes kicking and screaming) into the 21st century. Some bands try, succeed a little, then peter out (I’m looking at you, Red Hot Chili Peppers), while others, like Sonny Knight and the Lakers, do right by the Godfather of Soul. Continue reading → Funky Friday: Sonny Knight and the Lakers Make New Sound Old

Pre-Father’s Day Funky Friday: Papa Don’t Take No Mess

Scattered across the Interwebs you’ll see a profusion of lame nostalgia from folks who maintain that their childhoods were the most idyllic and utterly perfect because of our borderline neglectful parents, helmetless Big Wheel obstacle courses, afternoons binging on ’60s TV sitcom reruns, hours of Atari and gallons of fully sugared Kool-Aid.

I decline to wax rhapsodic about days past because nostalgia gets us absolutely nowhere as human beings. Nothing was ever as good as you remember it, and the examples people so enthusiastically offer up as “better times” are just the highlights they remember fondly. Mixed in with those amazing examples of freedom and adventure were those days where we said, “I’m bored” one too many times and our moms just locked us out of the house. Continue reading → Pre-Father’s Day Funky Friday: Papa Don’t Take No Mess

Funky Friday: Finding the Funk in Surprising Places

Anyone who’s spent more than 10 minutes reading past posts from this blog know that I’m a fan of fusion – both literary and musical. Some of the best examples of both come when someone known for one genre or style tries something new, or just decides to incorporate elements of the “other” into their own work.

Musically, Prince is one of my favorite examples, since his funk credentials are extensive, but the Little Purple One also has an incredible talent for penning an infectious pop song when he feels the urge. Continue reading → Funky Friday: Finding the Funk in Surprising Places

Funky Friday: The Power of the Writing Remix

Witness Big Audio Dynamite II, culled from the wreckage of The Clash and infused with funk, hip hop and the earliest 1990s incarnations of electronic dance music.

What you might also notice is that an integral portion of this highly danceable tune is the loop from the Clash song “Should I Stay Or Should I Go.” The guitar riff, the “woo!” – it’s all lifted straight from the song former band member Mick Jones helped write and one that has since become one of the band’s signature songs. Continue reading → Funky Friday: The Power of the Writing Remix

Funky Friday: Writing Routine and the Power of the Atomic Dog

I and my family recently joined the ranks of the dog rescuers, adopting a smart and handsome pointer mix puppy we have named Percy, for no other reason than his given name was Persimmon and we just weren’t cool with that.

wpid-img_20140530_120108334.jpg
Percy Pointer Puppydog Pruden, in a moment of relaxation.

So Persimmon became Percy and he’s eased into life at Chez Pruden very nicely. Not surprising since, whether he knew it or not, he was scheduled for euthanasia at the high-kill shelter in Greenville, S.C., from which the local group All 4 Paws Animal Rescue acquired him. As I’ve noted to others, Percy and I are now the only two native South Carolinians in our household (although being from Greenville, chances are he’d be a Clemson fan. I just choose not to think about that). Continue reading → Funky Friday: Writing Routine and the Power of the Atomic Dog