funk music

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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 ADD COMMENTS

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

Review: The Purple Xperience – John’s Creek, GA

Posted by funkatop On July - 12 - 2015 1 COMMENT

When you live near a major metropolitan area and Prince avoids your town for over 14 years (unintentionally or not), you take your fix where you can get it. So, I was thrilled when I heard that a Prince tribute band was coming to town named The Purple Xperience and even more thrilled to find out that at the helm of the keyboards was the one and only original Prince and the Revolution member Matt “Doctor” Fink.

Photo by Christine Swanson Photography

Photo by Christine Swanson Photography

Imagine my surprise when all of the preconceived notions I may have had went out the window. I knew they would open with Let’s Go Crazy. They didn’t.  I knew that they would close the entire show with Purple Rain. They didn’t. And I also knew that I would have to have a massive suspension of disbelief to feel like I was at a Prince concert. It wasn’t that massive at all and the biggest misconception was that it would not sound at all like Prince vocally. Shockingly, it did.

Fronted by the very talented Marshall Charloff, he hits all of the falsettos and screams and switches wardrobes a few times during the evening to keep the ladies in swoon. And unlike other Prince tribute bands, Marshall plays amazingly fluid guitar and great piano work as well.  The most impressive of which is the vocal work which he has nailed down to a science. Not to mention the sing alongs he leads the crowd through and the audience banter he’s nailed.

Dr. Fink was also at the top of his game with all of his trademark sound patches and riffs. When you consider that Fink actually co-wrote many of the songs you hear during the evening including Dirty Mind, America, Computer Blue and many others, it becomes much more satisfying. And let’s not forget that he is one of the pioneers of that buzzy funk we’ve all grown to love and adore. The innovator was in the house.

The rest of the band also does up the outfits to re-enact the nostalgia and complete the picture. The band stays tight and does great backup vocal work and at some points even picking up vocal nuances for Marshall to round out the sound.  From Dez’s trademark headband to Bobby Z’s perm. It was all there.

Purple Xperience 7-10-2015-026

Photo by Funkatopia

As you would expect, the band took on a very large chunk of the hits including Kiss, Let’s Go Crazy, Take Me With U, Raspberry Beret, Uptown and the likes, but also broke out occasional surprises like Darling Nikki, Pop Life complete with the audio segues you hear on the album, a revamped piano version of Ballad Of Dorothy Parker, and other delights we won’t ruin for you.

In short, the Minneapolis based tribute band isn’t just any other act. It is a full blown performance juggernaut and well worth the price of admission. And for hardcore Prince fans, having Dr. Fink at the helm makes the entire experience fun and nostalgic. To make it even more incredible, it sounds truly fantastic.

If they’re coming through your town, it will definitely be worth it and the perfect itch for those towns that get neglected. Cough, cough, Atlanta, cough.

Be sure to check the full photo album on our Facebook page!

And check out their Facebook page to find out where they’re playing next!

Prince Pulls His Entire Catalog

Posted by funkatop On July - 2 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Prince upsets the balance again by pulling his entire music catalog off of streaming services like Spotify.

In a huge move that will certainly shift the industry, Prince has removed his catalog from every streaming provider except Jay Z’s Tidal service. Previously, only albums released on the Warner Brothers labels were present and anything beyond that starting from Emancipation all the way to the new 3rd Eye Girl & ART OFFICIAL AGE releases were never present. But now, everything is gone.

Prince pulls music off Spotify

People searching for any of Prince‘s songs on Spotify will find a very heartdropping message that states;

Prince’s publisher has asked all streaming services to remove his catalog. We have cooperated with the request, and hope to bring his music back as soon as possible.”

Many speculate that the reasoning for it is twofold. The first being that Prince has been very animate about wanting to focus more on supporting black owned businesses moving forward. A statement supported by a speech he made during his performance in Baltimore. Which not surprisingly enough, was also broadcast exclusively on Tidal.

The second reasoning is that for even longer, Prince has railed on the streaming services for ripping off artists by paying them fractions of a penny for song plays. A passion that many artists agree is an unfair practice. Additionally, he’s made it very clear that he’s not happy with the practice of streaming music paying the labels twice and not the artists themselves as made evident on Twitter.



And all of which is surprising, since Tidal, while a tad more artist friendly, it is still leaned towards the streaming provider’s pocketbook (or wallet) and not a much better payment model than anything else.  If this truly is the reason for the walk out, it would behoove Tidal to take advantage of this marketing opportunity and tout the benefits of the “more artist friendly” service over their competitors.

Regardless of the reasoning, one could only imagine that if it is indeed the latter reasoning, Prince may once again recreate the music industry by renegotiating contracts with the streaming music providers to increase the artist share of song plays which will have a ripple effect for all of the artists on those platforms.

Once again, a new precedence looks to be on the very near horizon. And once again, it’s set by His Purple Majesty.

The Liv Warfield & Blackbird Tour

Posted by funkatop On June - 30 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

The beautiful Liv Warfield and her band Blackbird is hitting the road to do their tour in Europe. Mr. Christopher chats with Liv about the upcoming leg, the band, Jimmy Fallon and much more.

Google Hangout technical issues caused a loss of the first couple minutes, but there’s still plenty of interview along with special guest Ryan Waters (guitarist for Blackbird)

Review: Orgone – Beyond The Sun

Posted by funkatop On May - 12 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

orgone-beyond-the-sunFunk music was only perceived to have its “heyday” in the 70’s if for no other reason that it was a new genre of music that smacked on the one, rotated around the bass, and was magnificently easy to dance to no matter what your mood.

Fast forward 50 years later and the true funk genre has gotten buried as back drops for hip hop that people didn’t even realize how much they wanted and desired until Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars revived it with the chart breaking Uptown Funk.

But during those lost years, many bands have committed themselves to the sound and one of the most outstanding of which is Orgone that are creeping up on 15 years since their debut release and almost a decade since their historic album The Killion Floor.

Their newest release Beyond The Sun continues the funk tradition and takes it to an entirely new level by recreating the overall feel that takes the listener back to the original era.

The production is filled with warm tones that give the vibe that you’re sitting in front of your old record player. It creates a smooth hazy mood delivering super funky riffs and clean crisp soulful vocals laid out by new vocalist Adryon De Leon.

Adryon’s addition to Orgone continues their tradition of finding phenomenal vocalists to front the band and she does it with style, grace and power that lights up the tracks where she’s featured.

The 12 track album is a nice mix of instrumental grooves along with the solid bounce tracks that connect the dots. The album opens with the thump stomper Don’t Push Your Luck that introduces you to their new frontlady Adryon De Leon.

There are also a great bit of upbeat hoppy tunes such as Losin You, Take You Higher, pop classic-to-be’s such as People Beyond The Sun and tracks rooted in Mother’s Finest territory like I’m a Woman (I’m a Backbone).

There are also plenty of standouts including the closing Santana-esque Sabi and Meat Machine that sounds as if it was a lost cut from Super Fly.

Once again, we have no choice but to award Orgone‘s latest funkafied offering Beyond The Sun with the illustrious 5 Afros. They deserve it.

Get this album now.

5 out of 5 afros

Review: Van Hunt – The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets.

Posted by funkatop On April - 30 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Van Hunt - The Fun Rises, The Fun SetsIt’s never been a secret that we are big supporters of Van Hunt since the beginning of his career. Between his debut self titled album in 2004 and the release of On The Jungle Floor in 2006, we were insanely excited about the direction things were going.

In the interim there was a follow up unreleased album called Popular that Blue Note shelved in 2008 that would’ve solidified his legend in the R&B world, but instead only gathered dust (no pun intended).

In the timeline of his artistry, he continued on the path of attempting to set his individuality by creating his next album What Were You Hoping For? in 2011. But since the listening public lacked the advantage of hearing the progression of his journey since On The Jungle Floor, most of his fans were supportive but confused as to what happened. Like Disney World renovating the entire park without notice.

That nuance wasn’t lost on Van Hunt and he realized that he needed to connect the dots for his old school fans, but without sacrificing the integrity of his mission to continue his personal musical journey. Hence the arrival of his newest album The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets.

The high level of adventure and risk taking is still in full effect, but now includes songs that are far more embraceable and palatable to the general music listening audence, but still delivering on all fronts to appease all of us who have been enjoying the roller coaster rides.

The 13 track album features music stylings all over the sonic map and for Funkatopians, there are a lot of funk driven songs for the head boppers that creep along the lineage of Sly and The Family Stone and long play deep cuts from Slave. But none of which are standard plug and play and all of which offer many elements layered in for auditory nirvana from hand claps, sound effects, vocal screams, seemingly shocking breakdowns and masterfully placed bridges and riffs.

Van Hunt is fully vested in the sound of fellow visionaries like Bilal and D’Angelo where there is a willingness to add what seems like it may be too much until you realize that it’s just enough in the realm of sound, voice and instrument manipulation.

All of the tracks stand on their own as amazing songs, but none of which will ever find radio play with exception to the super funky Puddin’ which could find a home in top 40 if only radio would let it. But they won’t.

There are still the standard strange bits that Van Hunt can’t help but seem to create like She Stays With Me and French For Cloud (cstbu) which are more about the ambiance than lending themselves to sing-a-longs. But that has always been the undeniable attraction for most Van Hunt fans.

There are still his insanely sexy and flowing slow jams designed for the ladies like Headroom, If I Wanna Dance With You and Rub My Feet (suddenly). Deep and psyche intruding.

While we normally reserve the 5 star ratings for funk laden must have albums, this album is accomplishing something on an entirely new level that is truly undeniable and like with Prince’s Rainbow Children, we have no choice but to give it that rating if for no other reason that everyone needs to ingest this musical journey and experience it for themselves.

Get it now.

5 out of 5 afros

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