funk music

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Review: Kendrick Lamar (Atlanta, GA)

Posted by funkatop On October - 28 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Kendrick Lamar Atlanta Crowd
There is no denying Kendrick Lamar and The Wesley Theory. Every album he’s released has been instant magic. His style, his flow, his lyrical content, the grooves he’s rhymed over, and just everything. His explosion on the scene started with the incredible
Overly Dedicated which was his warning shot, then Section.80 was the loud gunshot in the crowd proving that it wasn’t a fluke, followed by the award winning good kid, m.A.A.d city which further proved he was just getting major traction and then the release of To Pimp A Butterfly earlier this year was the nuclear explosion heard around the world.

One thing you can’t deny is that Dr. Dre knows how to spot major talent and Kendrick Lamar is the absolute real deal. So how do you further separate him from the virtual ocean of hip-hop artists? You start by putting him out on tour to showcase his talent and then back him up with a collection of some of the most talented music artists on the planet instead of the standard (and more cost effective) DJ.  

Such is the tour called Kunta’s Groove Sessions which features Kendrick Lamar with his band The Wesley Theory and opening act Jay Rock. It’s an intimate 8 show tour that Atlanta was blessed enough to be included on.

Opening act Jay Rock brought the standard hip hop performance you would expect, but Kendrick added him to the bill if for no other reason because Jay Rock lives and breathes by the same consciousness and delivers the same messages as Lamar. Focusing on racial tensions and the unfortunate ignorance of the general public who are misinformed by the forces that be and have far too much control in steering the future.

Jay Rock performed for about 30 minutes to support his new release 90059, but made no effort to upstage Kendrick as his opening act and sat comfortably back in the passenger seat as a perfectly able artist and delivered an expert flow. And in the process gained a lot of new fans who got to see his work up close and personal.

Kendrick Lamar hit the stage shortly after 10pm backed by a roster of prolific musicians and a sold out crowd of well over 2000 at The Tabernacle in downtown Atlanta. The band started first performing an instrumental cover of Earth, Wind and Fire’s Can’t Hide Love briefly. Then Kendrick came onto the stage and sat on a white couch that was positioned center stage.

He played with the audience for a couple of minutes approaching the mike and then going back to the couch without uttering a word before finally breaking the silence and starting the show with For Free? (“This d*ck ain’t free”).

What proceeded afterwards was a literal onslaught of music lasting over an hour and a half and covering To Pimp A Butterfly in its entirety with exception to You Ain’t Gotta Lie. He also managed to get in the fan favorites from good kid, m.A.A.d city including Swimming Pool (Drank), Backseat Freestyle, Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe, Money Trees, and M.A.A.d city.

The energy was for lack of a better term “off the chain” with a majority of the crowd on the floor singing and bouncing for the entire show. The band collectively put together a very well rehearsed structured show that didn’t lend itself well to much off the cuff performance off ramps, but in a show that is as tight as this was, it certainly wasn’t missed.

Lamar has proven that even with a majority of his show being from his newest album, that his impact on his fans is impactful since his audience sang along to every song from an album that’s not even 8 months old.  It was next to impossible to not get swept up with the high energy of the show in both performance and audience participation.

Kendrick announced several times during the night that this particular version of this tour would not be replicated and was an exclusive type of event that would be the “livest and loudest event you’ve ever heard”.  And in no stretch of the imagination did he sway from that promise.

The end result? An absolutely incredible live music full band hip hop extravaganza that can’t be rivaled by any hip hop act on the road right now. None. Easily the best show we’ve seen this year and so spiritually fulfilling that if Kendrick Lamar + The Wesley Theory are anywhere within 100 miles of where you are, get in your car and get there immediately.

We’re giving Kendrick Lamar’s tour, Kunta’s Groove Sessions with his band The Wesley Theory a firmly and well deserved 5 out 5 afro award.

5 out of 5 afros


Can’t Hide Love Instrumental Intro (Earth Wind and Fire Cover)
For Free?
Wesley’s Theory
Backseat Freestyle
Swimming Pools (Drank)
These Walls
For Sale?
Hood Politics
hard rock segue
Complexion (A Zulu Love)
Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe
Money Trees
Can’t Hide Love Instrumental Segue (Earth Wind and Fire Cover)
m.A.A.d city
Band jam
King Kunta
crowd play
How Much a Dollar Cost
The Blacker The Berry
Mortal Man
crowd noise and chants
Every Ni**er Is A Star outro


Review: Lianne La Havas – Atlanta – 10/25/2015

Posted by funkatop On October - 26 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Lianne La Havas - Atlanta - 2015

British songwriter and now part of Prince’s growing collective of amazing new artists he actively supports, Lianne La Havas hit Atlanta to the tune of a sold out show at Center Stage with opening act Keenan O’Meara.

Keenan O’Meara is a ballad-heavy performer in the vein of Vance Joy that played for about 35 minutes to an extremely welcoming crowd. He went solo with an acoustic guitar and then migrated to electric midway through the set. His songs are along the lines of the aforementioned Vance Joy with brooding lyricism and slightly darker tones layered with thought provoking topics. While his music was a bit removed in style for Lianne La Havas, the crowd made him feel completely welcome. He was the original vocalist on Lianne’s track Wonderful from her new album Blood.

By the time Lianne hit the stage, the crowd was ready. This was one of the first sold out shows I’ve witnessed at Center Stage which holds just over 1000 and the crowd was insanely enthusiastic and energized to see her. The energy and hype was mind-blowing as you can see in the video below and when you have such an over the top reception to your performance, the delivery just gets increasingly better.

The setlist (shown below) was a perfect mix of new and old material. There were a lot of great moments including Lianne showing off her mastery on acoustic guitar and doing solo work on songs like Tease and No Room For Doubt. Even briefly forgetting the lyrics to Au Cinema which was segued into a great slowed down version of Happy was incredibly endearing and real and made the evening that much more magical.

Nearing an hour and 15 minutes, Lianne apologized for not having a lot of material to play all night, but this was truly one of those nights where she left them wanting more. Even if she had played all of her material from both albums, the crowd was insatiable enough to have demanded more and easily would have stayed until the wee hours just to hear her voice.

Lianne still managed to return for an encore to solo with an electric guitar on her songs Age and Ghost. She then was joined by the rest of the band for a closing rousing ode to her ex-boyfriend to blaze out Forget with huge crescendos.

This was one of the best caffeinated performances we’ve seen at Center Stage and her recent alliance with Prince over the past year or so has created a literal audio landslide that will catapult her into top 40 status in the very near years to come. Pay attention. It’s coming.

Meanwhile here is the setlist and a taste of what you missed and you missed plenty.

Lianne La Havas Setlist
Atlanta, GA 10-25-2015
Green and Gold
Is Your Love Big Enough?
Au cinema/Happy
What you don’t do
No Room for doubt
Lost and Found
Never Get Enough

Encore (Lianne solo with electric guitar)
(Full band)

Review: Heavy Chevy

Posted by funkatop On October - 16 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Heavy Chevy

Atlanta based Heavy Chevy is coming down the tracks swinging with a new 8 track album called Black Light. The vinyl release hits the streets on October 24th.

Priding themselves on the deep, raw flavor of the sound reminiscent of The Gap Band‘s deep tracks, Heavy Chevy is full on brass horns and key stabs. While mostly instrumental, vocals do make an appearance a couple times during the run.

Get a Hold, Music and You Got Me premiere the vocals of keyboardist Michelle Marshall. The latter features sampling of Chic in style, delivery and power, Michelle’s voice is powerful and strong. You Got Me was also released on Soundcloud here to get a feel as to what you can expect from the full album vibe.

The band consists of Skape Zilla (keys, samples), Luke Zollinger (bass), Mike Applebaum (keys, trumpet), Radley Fricker (drums), Travis Cottle (trombone, guitar), Tony James (percussion), and Michelle Marshall (keys, vocals).

HC_Cover_FinalThe album also features work from producer Graham Marsh (Cee Lo Green, Bruno Mars), engineer Ralph Cacciurri (Alicia Keys, Outkast), and mastering engineer John Horesco (Lecrae, B.O.B.) who all lent a hand in the finalized release that people will get to hear come the end of October.

The collection of songs is raw and thick with leanings toward the cosmic synth lines and samples that weave throughout the album.  Heavy Chevy borrows heavily from all of the funk decades and pulls the best elements out of each to create a new raw funk edge.

Follow the band at to check out where you can snag a copy of the Black Light album soon when it hits the streets. As of this writing, you can get a copy at their live shows, so visit their website above to find out when they play next in your town.

We’ll be paying close attention to how this band progresses as their new release begins to get some traction here in the ATL.

Review: Turkuaz – Digitonium

Posted by funkatop On October - 13 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

turkuazFunkatopia tries to pride ourselves on finding the next great funk band that will explode through the stratosphere and this month, there was a huge flurry of acts that landed on our doorstep. One of which is the super funky outfit Turkuaz and their new album Digitonium.

The new release is a massive 23 tracks with only a few segues in the mix. The concept of this new album appeared to be capturing that 80’s funk sound and unveiling new sways and riffs to fill in the decades while still maintaining tongue in cheek delivery.

This is a production. The whole showcase of performers from their outfits to the squeaky clean synth-focused production screams that funk specific era that blossomed in the decade of excess on the other side of the deep grungy funk of the 70’s.

The merging of sound derived from the 80’s Word Up version of Cameo and Roger‘s More Bounce To the Ounce and adding a dash of techno to boot, but short of stepping on the toes of The Floozies.

Spanning the watercolors of that era of funk to include the light jazz flavoring of Brand New Heavies, it’s a full fledged journey into a funkafied time machine. It’s a super polished production and with the immense amount of material, something they take very seriously.

turkuaz-digitoniumThe 9-piece band from Brooklyn, New York defines their sound as Powerfunk and along with their sense of funk laden melodies comes an unusual song naming convention.

With song titles like European Festivity Nightmare, Bijou Drains The Birddog, Percy Thrills The Moondog, and Murder Face, the titles alone will peak your curiosity.

The standout songs on the album are plentiful including my personal favorite Nightswimming with its dark meaty bump, and the Thomas Dolby new wave feel of the title track Digitonium which changes directions halfway through to slather on more funk layers.

The albums first single is The Generator which serves as the mile marker on the album where the songs take on a very distinct new wave funk slant to complete the journey for the last few songs. For those who couldn’t resist the new wave funk of Thomas Dolby, The Fixx and Peter Gabriel, Turkuaz has a little something for you as well.

The Digitonium album by Turkuaz is on sale right here on iTunes, so pick it up without delay and visit their website at on their extensive tour that most likely has them coming through your town soon.

Review: Caboose – Coupe

Posted by funkatop On October - 12 - 2015 1 COMMENT
It’s very rare that a new band comes out swinging unless you see them coming from a mile away, but nowadays discovering new music has become easier with the advent of Spotify, Tidal, Pandora and the like.
But it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when that band is an act like Caboose that tracks you down with their new album entitled Coupe and it’s unmistakably super funky.
While the entire story is unknown, Caboose is based out of Ventura, California and consists of Eric Walters (Guitar), Mike Thomas (Drums), Brian Boom Carroll (Bass) and the late Jonathan Cooper (Keys).  It was  Jonathan’s final album before his passing that was recorded in 2014.
While the entire band is showcased by their immense talent and impressive chops, Jonathan Cooper is by far center stage on these recordings with every track spotlighting keys and organ stabs. All of which are impeccable and he can rest in peace knowing that this album firmly establishes his prominence as an undeniable master keyboardist.
Engineer Chris DeNogean spent some quiet time to properly capturing and polishing those recordings to construct a true funk-jazz masterpiece that would be an amazing addition to any funkateers collection.
Caboose - CoupeThe end result is a blend of The Meters and Headhunters with bursts of moody diversions like Zuma that take the Herbie Hancock references up to a second tier.
This album will live in infamy because all of these songs will be sampled from here into eternity. The arrangements are super strong and are all perfectly mixed and there isnt a weak song in the mix out of the collection.
With incredible standouts like The Drop which hearken back to Traffic‘s Glad, smooth barn burners like Top Down and Yap, and moody offshoots like Zuma, there isn’t wasted space to be found.
Whether Caboose will use this mountain of awesome to establish something moving forward or if it was simply designed to show homage to Jonathan Cooper, it’s yet to be seen.
But what we can see is a whopping 5 Afro award from Funkatopia for hand delivering one of the best funk albums of the year onto our doorstep.
5 out of 5 afros


D’Angelo: The Tavis Smiley Interview

Posted by funkatop On September - 9 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

D'Angelo on Tavis Smiley 2015

PBS and The Tavis Smiley show have posted the two part interview with D’Angelo. Listen in as he chats a LOT about Prince, Curtis Mayfield, Questlove, the reception of the Black Messiah album, living in the digital age of music, and much more.

Prince fans should definitely tune in to see just how much influence he’s had on D’Angelo and his perception of not only the industry, but the creation process.

More Prince Albums Hit Tidal

Posted by funkatop On September - 8 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Prince released his brand new album HITnRUN Phase One as an exclusive release on Jay Z‘s Tidal service. The move is shocking in itself, but he did announce that he wanted to support the service for a variety of reasons, but the most prominent of which was the undisclosed agreement he arranged with Tidal and the revenue sharing that better supports the artists.

And then the gates opened…


Popping up on the Tidal service over the weekend were a bunch of releases added to his discography list including The Chocolate Invasion, The Slaughterhouse, XPectation, N.E.WS., LotusFlower, C Note, One Nite Alone, The Truth, along with the singles we’ve been seeing including The War, Baltimore, Extraloveable and others.

All of this seems to be a wakeup call to any who are paying attention that when Prince puts his cards on your table, he’s apparently all in. Mysteriously missing are still some amazing albums we’re waiting to see such as Crystal Ball, Rainbow Children, Black Album, Dream Factory and others that people are still waiting anxiously to stream.  But for now, there are a bunch more to choose from and who’s complaining? Nobody.

If this latest wave of additions is any indication of things to come, we suggest you sign on sooner rather than later. And definitely take advantage of the 3 for 1 offer that Tidal just offered via email, but that you can also snag here.

Review: Prince – HITnRUN Phase One

Posted by funkatop On September - 7 - 2015 4 COMMENTS

Prince HITnRUN Phase OneOn September 7th, Prince released another new album exclusively on Tidal entitled HITnRUN Phase One. Out of the gate, everything seems different about the album including the fact that the One in Phase One wasn’t changed to the number 1, which concerns us for some reason. It screams different right on the cover. It also insinuates that there may be other “phases” that we can expect in the very near future. Color us super happy because any music from Prince is welcome.

To start, the album was produced by Joshua Welton, husband of 3rd Eye Girl drummer Hannah Ford Welton. Prince giving up the production reigns is groundbreaking if only because Prince is so incredibly protective over how his music is represented. Joshua’s involvement doesn’t stop there since he also shares writing credits as well. The end result is the boost in music variety and because it allows Prince to focus on the creation process and Joshua brings a fresh set of eyes to the process.

The album opens with clips of classics like 1999 and Let’s Go Crazy before diving into the Judith Hill led Million $ Show.  That sets the stage for a superb collection of tunes and offers up glimpses of some great things that may be built on later down the road.

The first of which is when Prince brings in new faces and voices like Rita Ora, rapper Curly Fryz, Judith Hill and Lianne La Havas. The latter two who themselves have put out some of the best albums in 2015 and now share the stage with his purple majesty.  This trend is very welcome.

Lianne La Havas who is my new favorite obsession, brought life, vibe and dramatics to the beautiful Art Official Age. Some of her excerpts along with pieces of Clouds are brought into the mood-setting Mr. Nelson. It’s also one of the more techno offerings on the album while still providing a lot of musical gymnastics at the same time.

Our second favorite change is that we especially love when Prince doesn’t worry about closing up a song and let’s the groove run for an extended period of time to simply let it flow and give the listener a chance to appreciate the song structure. It was what made the B sides of yesteryear so epic.  Those long breaths of musical nirvana that don’t require words.  The extended musical breaks come back in various samplings such as the final minutes of This Could B Us, and the insanely funky Ain’t About To Stop. And we can’t go without mentioning how great it is to hear Prince figure out a way use the word taffeta in a song.

There are many standouts on the album, but if we had a gold plated microphone gun to our head, we would choose our new personal favorite X’s Face and the closing song June.

X’s Face is the techno king of the album going to territory that doesn’t get a lot of of time from Prince. We love when he gets experimental and delves into unusual landscapes. Those are the pieces that have always made Prince such an eclectic character whether he’s aware of it or not. Over his career, those songs that grab handfuls of your hair and insist that you to listen like All The Critics Love YouDarling Nikki, Annie Christian, Something In The Water, and similar songs are always those songs that end up on those Prince mixtapes. X’s Face is your new addition to those tapes. Here’s hoping that more are on the way. We know what polished sounds like. Give us more of that raw experimental white knuckle dirty vibe and we’re in.

And then there is the closing song June which hearkens back to the story filled lyricism of Ballad of Dorothy Parker and Sometimes It Snows In April. It’s that line where emotion and music perfectly make love and dance together. June appears to be Prince‘s reflection on his birthday and how he feels as if he were born too late. He feels that he should have been part of the Woodstock era, but we firmly disagree. He single-handedly made the 80’s bearable and even decades later is still churning out phenomenal music. The song itself is very introspective and filled with moody energy that’s beautifully balanced with the music.  That type of layering make the song irresistible.

Overall, Joshua Welton has done a fantastic job behind the board and capturing the mixology that Prince has perfected over the years.  Here’s to many more productions from Joshua that will free up Prince to focus on creating. After this release, Prince should feel confident enough in Joshua’s process to start enjoying himself even more and we look forward to those oncoming phases.

Regardless, this is yet another Prince album that’s worthy of checking out. Even if you have to experiment using Tidal to get to it, it’s worth the trouble. You knew it was going to happen, Prince has earned yet another 5 star afro award from Funkatopia.

5 out of 5 afros

Review: Lianne La Havas – Blood

Posted by funkatop On July - 31 - 2015 1 COMMENT

Lianne La Havas Blood reviewOne of the benefits of frequently going to concerts is that every now and then, the artist will bestow upon you an awesome gift. In exchange for me purchasing a VIP ticket to Lianne La Havas‘s show in Atlanta in October was a download of her new album Blood as soon as it hit the streets, which was today.

God’s honest truth, I swear that Lianne’s first album Is Your Love Big Enough was easily one of the best albums I had heard in many years, so I was expecting no less from her newest release that’s been over 3 years coming to the month.

The new album features a lot of great surprises like the album opener Unstoppable which was built on top of an instrumental from the trio The Invisible. A thick and richly chocolate infused groove. Plus that the song Green and Gold was cowritten and coproduced by one of our favorite performers, Jamie Lidell.

The entire album is full of incredible rich production that fills the sound waves with smooth wide bass riffs, soft drum patterns, intricate acoustic guitar walks, and vocal layers poured over like syrup on pancakes. All of which blend to create a vibrant handheld tour through a very broad and detailed pallette of colors.

All of the songs stand on their own as powerful testaments to heavy production work. The overall result is a full neo-soul release said to be inspired by her Jamaican and Greek roots although there’s no reggae infusion to speak of. Although all of the songs serve as a standard as the perfect background music to digging your toes into the sand.

Some highlights include the track Wonderful which features Disclosure‘s Howard Lawrence who brings the same breadth of vibe that he helped deliver on Latch with Sam Smith.

Midnight is one of a few featured upbeat tracks that showcases Lianne’s vocal reach as she hollers and stretches her range to take it into another realm not previously recorded on any of her previous releases which makes it all the more surprising.

From the locomotive rush of Grow to the surprising Never Get Enough that jumps back and forth from ambient acoustic to a muffled techno rocker, the album is riddled with brilliance. Haunting acoustic guitar work trickling all over on tracks and gorgeous strategically placed string sections in songs like Good Goodbye that continue to fill out her acoustic stylings that made her first release such a dominant presence in the music world.

This album has hits all through it like the already released single of Unstoppable and even the amazing catchy What You Don’t Do.  Terrestrial radio will undoubtedly ignore this yet another great release and we’ll all scream “Travesty!” that will fall upon deaf ears.

If you have to have the best of what’s left of the neo-soul movement with current tech edged flavor and gorgeous vocals from a beautiful woman who is filled with passion and verve, look no further than Lianne La Havas‘s newest Blood offering.

Get it like right now.

Review: Rock Candy Funk Party – Groove Is King

Posted by funkatop On July - 28 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Rock Candy Funk Party - Groove Is KingSupergroup Rock Candy Funk Party (RCFP) has done it yet again with their instrumental funk rager called Groove is King(due on the streets 7/31). The more deadly nasty funk grooves from the first offering slid into the back seat and taking the steering wheel is the groove-laden jazz riffs that are the right side of tasty and the left side of hot sauce.

The RCFP supergroup consists of Tal Bergman on drums (Chaka Khan, BB King, Billy Idol), the legendary Joe Bonamassa on guitar, Ron DeJesus also on guitar (The Emotions, Tito Puente), and Mike Merrit on bass who some may recognize as the bass player from Conan O’Brien’s Late Night show band The Basic Cable Band, but who has also shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughn and many others.

The group also features collaborations from other musicians that round things out on various tracks such as keyboardist Renato Neto (Prince, Rod Stewart) who was part of the core during RCFP‘s first release, sax player Ada Rovatti & trumpeter Randy Brecker (Brecker Brothers), James Campagnola also on sax (Eric Clapton, David Sanborn), Daniel Sadownick on percussion (Brecker Brothers, Steely Dan), and Fred Kron on keys (Family Force 5).

The 16 track album is technically 13 due to 3 segues from the gravelly-throated Mr. Funkadamus who sets the tone for the audio assault you’re about to experience. Here’s a taste;

The song selections jump from laid back stompers like East Village and The 6 Train To The Bronx over to songs such as Don’t Be Stingy With The SMPTE that some may call flat out disco in the vain of Jamiroquai style string stabs.

There are many great standouts on this release such as Rock Candy with its quick finger keyboard chops backed by a East St. Louis Toodaloo horn section, and the fantastic title track Groove Is King that is dark, bassy, super deep and thick.

There is one strange bird in the mix and that would be the cover of Peter Gabriel‘s Digging In The Dirt. While at first it seemed out of place, you began to quickly realize the funky nuances of the song that you probably missed in the original. Outside of the Mr. Funkadamus segues, it’s also the only song that features vocals from powerhouse vocalist Zia.

For fans of the styling of old school Headhunters or Tower of Power, you’ll definitely feel at home with the jazz funk flair of Don’t Funk With Me. For 80’s funk fans of The Gap Band or Lakeside, you’ll have a shot to the jugular as well with the synth pop laden C You On The Flip Side or alternately the 80’s keyboard stab filled Low Tide.

The album is filled front to back with great bouncy grooves and sweet meaty riffs including great surprises like the closing techno/hard rock tag team of The Fabulous Tales Of Two Bands.

It’s simply packed full of great tunes that will quench the funk quota for both funk fanatics and jazz-funk afficianados.

Groove is King hits the streets on July 31, 2015 and you can nab the CD as well as a Bonus DVD which contains over 50 minutes of footage from the studio sessions, interviews with the members, as well as some other surprises.

Hit their site at for all of the details and snatch a free song download in the process.

Rock Candy Funk Party yet again snags our illustrious 5 out of 5 afros. Well done funky brethren.

5 out of 5 afros

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