2022 was definitely a much more difficult year to pick the best funk albums. Mainly because funk took on so many different faces including the growing category of Nu-Funk. Nu-Funk embraces the core of funk music but erases the borders allowing for the merging of jazz, hip-hop, and even techno into the formula.
This year, we took into consideration the new faces of Nu-Funk, but did our best to stay true to funk as established by James Brown, Parliament, Funkadelic, Rick James, Cameo, and others. There are some obvious omissions this year from bands that normally “bring the funk,” but their 2022 releases went in entirely different musical directions.
AS ALWAYS, as you review the list below, here is our normal pre-amble. It’s GREATLY IMPORTANT that YOU realize that your favorite funk album of 2022 might not be here because a) we only pick 20 (plus some bonuses), b) it may not have been released in 2022, and c) we may not have even heard of it. So if we missed it, PLEASE share it in the comments area below. As we said, there are some obvious omissions, so we expect to see them in the comments.
The 2022 funk albums listed below are not listed in ANY numerical order. This is NOT a countdown. They are all funky and if it’s on this page, it’s worth your time! Here we go!
Troy Andrews aka Trombone Shorty shared the stage with Bo Diddley when he was only 4 years old which definitively set his career path which has now led to selling out arenas. He has always held steadfast with his firm and stout representation of New Orleans. The soul, music, and flow of New Orleans are watered directly from the bayou and the core of bayou music has always been swampy, gritty, bouncy funk. And Troy does not disappoint here.
Special guests are throughout the album including Gary Clark Jr. (I’m Standing Here), Lauren Daigle (What It Takes), and even the New Breed Brass Band (Everybody in the World). Their presence on this new album Lifted creates an inevitable flow. It’s his first studio album in 5 years if you don’t count the 2019 collaboration album with James Andrews. But it’s full of NOLA funk complete with twists and turns on the road to a perfect recipe for musical jambalaya.
Many are not familiar with Cory Henry, but some may know him from the funk jazz troupe Snarky Puppy, a group he left in 2018 to kick off his solo career. So far, he’s released 5 albums during that time along with a couple of live albums that accompanied previous releases including a separate live version of Art of Love from 2018 and a live version of this one, Operation Funk.
Cory Henry‘s albums have always been right on the cusp of landing on the Best Funk Albums list. Not that it mattered since his previous albums were Grammy-nominated in the R&B category. But now 2022 finally got him on our list. While the album is called Operation Funk, the first 2 tracks don’t support the title, but the 3rd track What I Want kicks the funk in with an upbeat R&B flavor, and from that point on, the funk train starts rolling for the remainder of the album. It’s funk with a light jazz flavor and it works perfectly.
Enema Squad is one of those bands that is fully soaked into the Parliament Funkadelic culture of raw and dirty funk music and their new EP entitled Diarrhona Deluxe is “all in” on the dukey stick lingo. Hence the title and band name. Plus the EP is a precursor to a coming album called The Greatest Shits.
The album features Parliament Funkadelic alumni Mike “Kidd Funkadelic” Hampton, Rodney “Skeet” Curtis, Danny Bedrosian, Garrett Shider aka “Starchild Jr.”, L.A.W. and others. The EP features the raw off-kilter Parliament sound with even more tongue-in-cheek poop shtick including Doo Doo Enhancers. Plus, the EP is also surrounded by more funky singles on their Bandcamp page like Take Another Pill, and new classics like Chillin’ In Yo Mama’s Room.
It’s pretty much a given that if Lettuce releases an album, it will end up on our list. Lettuce has been creating funk jams for well over 20 years and they show no signs of stopping. Unify brings more of the loose, hypnotic funk jams that Lettuce is well known for and doesn’t let up off the gas pedal.
The core of the band has stayed the same since the 90’s with Adam Deitch (drums, percussion), Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff (guitar), Erick “Jesus” Coomes (bass), and Ryan Zoidis (saxophones). Add in the perfect spice of Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet) and Nigel Hall (keyboards, vocals) and magic happens. Bootsy Collins even drops in for a guest spot to build a song around the Keep That Funk Alive clip that he did with Funkatopia a few years back. We kinda feel special now…
This is a first-time appearance for self-taught Romanian-born multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer Saoul. If Twateau is a sign of things on the horizon from this newcomer, he’s definitely one to watch.
Now based in London, his first album in 2019 landed on the Truth in Rhythm best funk album list and now he can add this to his resumé because this album definitely got our attention. The singer claims to walk in the footsteps of Stevie Wonder and Prince but truly aligns musically with early Lenny Kravitz influences with added techno flairs and a dash of Toro y Moi.
If there was one album to pick out of the best representation of a funk album, The Bump Squad‘s He Who Dares, Flares would be at the top of the list. The album is built solely on the recipe of the classic Bernie Worrell style of funk complete with synthesized Aquaboogie type vocals and warbly antics.
The Bump Squad is the brainchild of Petter Aargaard and Tomas Nerbø Smågesjø who are hardcore funk fanatics that breathe all things Parliament and Prince, and their passions come through here. While some tracks go over the top in attempting to stay the course, the end result makes it completely worth it. It stays true to its intent from the beginning to the end and doesn’t leave the kitchen. This is flat-out the funk album of the year right here.
The Greyboy Allstars released their sixth studio album on April Fools Day entitled Get a Job: Music from the Original Broadcast Series Soul Dream. The band is a full-blown musiquarium of a powerhouse that features Karl Denson (saxophone, flute), Elgin Park (guitars), Aaron Redfield (drums), Chris Stillwell (bass), and Robert Walter (keys).
The band compiled this selection of tracks from The Greyboy Allstars’ 2021 Soul Dream live-stream series. It covers lesser-known songs from Ann Alford, Gil Scott-Heron, Gene Ammons, The Beatles, Gary Bartz, and even Burt Bacharach. All of the songs have a funk shuffle that Greyboy Allstars are known for and a collection of music that deservedly lands them on this 2022 list.
Staying focused and engaged has been a recipe that has worked well for Sheila E guitarist Mychael Gabriel. There were a lot of expectations that Mychael placed on himself for his debut album Genesis. It also didn’t help that he is the son of the Purple Circle legend Gilbert Davison (Prince‘s Tour Manager, Paisley Park Director) and the godson of Sheila E and Prince. It’s a lot to live up to.
But Mychael Gabriel proved that he is not only an amazingly accomplished multi-instrumentalist, producer, and singer, but can also manage to put out an incredibly funky album. The album is full of grooving R&B and rock, but still maintains a standard line of funk running through the entirety of the album. Be sure to visit the album premiere that Funkatopia did here.
You never like to hear sad stories about great bands, especially when a great band decided to call it quits. Turkuaz has been at it for a decade and garnered a lot of attention from the funk and jam band communities. As multiple members decided to cease touring, the band gave one final farewell gift to their fans in the form of two brand-new albums, Apollyon and Paradiso.
Apollyon was the clear winner of the funk side of the force being mostly recorded live with all 9 members in the same room which tends to be a rarity. And similar to the recording practices of Orgone, they also used vintage technologies to accomplish that 70’s funk sound such as spring reverb and tube amps. The album also features guest appearances of Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads) and Adrian Belew (David Bowie, Talking Heads, Nine Inch Nails). It’s sad that these are their last albums, but at least they ended with a huge funky bang.
We’re not even sure how this release ended up in our hands. This is the first time French electro-funk artist Kazzey has ended up on this list and we’re glad he did because this is one of those glaringly different styles of electronic funk that we’ve seen through the likes of bands like Chromeo and Mofak.
While it may be Kazzey‘s first time on the list, he has worked with other artists on this release that has been here before. XL Middleton and Mofak are guests on a couple of the tracks for this Voyage 1 album, which is his 3rd release. We can’t wait to hear more material and think you’re going to dig this album.
Thurteen is part of the 3GP movement better known as 3rd Generation Parliament. It’s a group of funk artists that are the progeny of Parliament Funkadelic members that manage to co-mingle into each other’s projects. It’s a group that includes Funkatopian Garrett Shider (son of P-Funk legend Garry Shider), Tra’Zae Clinton (George Clinton‘s grandson), Tonysha Nelson (granddaughter of George Clinton), and others.
In the beginning, Thurteen managed to get 2 tracks into the hands of George Clinton who loved the songs and even included Thurteen‘s Dog Forever on the Shake the Gate album. Now Thurteen has his own release here called Thurtdelic and it’s complete with plenty of Parliament vibes and vocal stylings and even some throwback artwork giving a nod to the Funkedelic era.
When you think of the names Isley or Neville, you immediately think of a dynasty of musicians. If you’re born into those families, your career path is pretty much etched in stone. But many are not familiar with Minnesota’s Peterson family whose members have played with Dizzy Gillespie, Bob Dylan, Steve Miller, George Benson, David Sanborn, Kenny Loggins, Michael Bolton, and others. Then there’s St. Paul Peterson, who has played alongside Prince and The Time and fronted the 80’s band The Family (which produced the singles for Screams of Passion and High Fashion).
St. Paul Peterson released his latest album Break On Free which is a masterclass in old-school, grown folks funk along with a sprinkling of jazz and R&B for good measure. When the single for Something in the Water (not a Prince cover) dropped, we knew the album would showcase similar laid-back funk grooves, and Break on Free definitely delivered. He continues to do weekly Funk Fridays online and plays frequently with Eric Leeds in the collective known as LP.
M-Rock (Emrik M-ROCK Larsson) has been on the funk scene overseas for quite some time. The self-proclaimed “King of FUNK” hails from Sweden and had previously fronted the band The Stonefunkers. He now fronts M-Rock Emrik and the Wefunky Band and this is his newest album Celebration.
The album was released in February of 2022 by the group which consists of hardcore funk enthusiasts impassioned by all things funky. Emrik’s project showcases vocals from M-ROCK and Johanna Hjort, as well as rapping from Gonzo Reyes on the opening Cashbah track. There is a strong selection of funk tracks here and you can place this album in your crates somewhere between Cameo and your disco collection.
Tra’zae Clinton is part of the 3GP (3rd Generaton Parliament) movement and the grandson of George Clinton. He has seen two entries on the Funkatopia Best Funk Album lists previously including 2021’s Junie Bug and 2020’s Tra’Zombipulation. He’s frequently sharing the stage with his grandfather George Clinton and can also be heard on Parliament‘s Medicaid Fraud Dogg release.
Tra’Zae Clinton released three albums in 2022 including a slow jam album, a trap music album of sorts, and this release (Wild Child) that follows in the footsteps of the Parliament antics of its funk-themed predecessors. Filled with a heavily layered Clinton-esque style of vocals and off-kilter harmonies that proved to be the defining sound of the funk movement of the 70s. The apple falls close to the tree.
Cory Wong is no stranger to the Funkatopia Best Funk Album list as he landed in 2021 with two albums including Cory Wong and the Wongnotes and The Paisley Park Session. 2022 boasted yet another entry in the form of Power Station which showcases just as many guests as his previous albums.
Power Station features Victor Wooten, Bela Fleck, Chromeo, Mark Lettieri, Larry Carlton, and more. The album rides the 80’s pop side of the funk spectrum and serves as pretty much a continuation of the Paisley Park Session album of 2021 in style and vibe. Cory Wong‘s Youtube jam sessions are funky rabbit hole fodder and always showcase the best musicians he can get into the studio. And every now and then it gets put together in a compilation like Power Station.
When Morris Day announced his retirement from the music industry in 2021, the purple world took notice. Especially since it also came on the heels of a very vocal and public dispute with the Prince Estate regarding the usage of his name in combination with The Time in his touring efforts. So it came as no surprise to people close to the story that “enough is enough” was probably just around the corner.
Along with his announcement, his final album release Last Call hit the shelves featuring guest appearances by Snoop Dogg, E-40, Flo Rida, ZZ Top‘s Billy Gibbons, Big Daddy Kane, Tech N9ne, and many others. The 12-track album is full of dance tracks in a grown folks’ style of funk. What’s even more surprising is that for a vocalist known for his slow jams like Don’t Wait For Me and Gigolos Get Lonely Too, the only slow jam on the album is the final closing title track Last Call.
Str4ta is a newcomer to Funkatopia’s Best Funk list, but 2022’s Str4tasfear album certainly deserves a spot here. The genesis of Str4ta is the brainchild of duo Gilles Peterson and Jean Paul “Bluey” Maunick. The band itself came about from a pre-pandemic recording session in London and then evolved into a project honoring the sound of the 80’s Brit-Funk movement in the vein of Brand New Heavies.
Str4tasfear is their sophomore album that showcases writing from the duo, but it also brings in a wealth of talents like vocalists Emma-Jean Thackray, Theo Croker, Valerie Etienne, and others. You also can’t ignore the contributions of Brighton duo Anushka, Peter Hinds (Incognito), and even multi-talented neo-soul artist Godfather Omar.
Bass Extremes is the group collective of bass geniuses Victor Wooten and Steve Bailey that began back in 1993. 5-time Grammy winner Victor Wooten came onto the music scene touring with his brothers alongside Curtis Mayfield, War, Maze, and more. He then hit notoriety as one of the founding members of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Steve Bailey is just as accomplished having shared the stage with Dizzy Gillespie, The Rippingtons, Jethro Tull, and many others including now serving as Chair of the bass department at Berklee College of Music.
It’s impossible to deny that drums and bass are the primary components of a strong funk recipe, so it should come as no surprise that putting these two bass phenoms on one album will yield very funky results. Add in special guests like Marcus Miller, John Patitucci, Bela Fleck, and more including Bootsy Collins, and this funk-jazz album is undeniable even if it leans more towards jazz.
For over a decade, talkbox master Steve Watkins aka Swatkins has funked up music lovers with many singles and collaborations. Now he finally releases his long-awaited debut LP, Friends and Other Necessities. While many may not be familiar with his name, many may know him as a long-time collaborator as a keyboardist with the band Scary Pockets.
His funky debut is full of Zapp and Roger-style talkbox effects that he has long perfected over the years, but the Friends part of the album title is a nod to the impressive guest list on the album including Eric Krasno (Soulive, Lettuce), Raquel Rodriguez (Gwen Stefani, Anderson .Paak), Antwuan Stanley (Cory Wong, Vulfpeck), and more. The end result is a very funky and powerful groove release that’s worth your effort and vibe time.
Cam Gallagher and the Tasty Soul enter the Funkatopia Best Funk list for the first time with their debut album Funk Out. The album was originally intended to be a live jam session recording of a show in Salt Lake City, but due to technical difficulties ended up being cut into a studio album instead.
The album spotlights 7 songs and 5 of which feature the vocals of Sarah Hakes. 6 of the songs are original tracks that were all written and composed by Cam Gallagher. The final 7th track covers the Tears For Fears song Everybody Wants To Rule the World which was inspired by Lettuce‘s cover of the same song which gave Cam intense inspiration to add his own spin. The album is full of funky horn parts and jams that lend themselves to a full neo-soul Brit-Funk vibe that completes a solid debut album from the newcomer.
REMIXES AND LIVE SHOW MUST HAVES!
2022 had a good handful of live shows and re-releases and we have FIVE bonuses for you. So we placed them down in their own section here to make more room for the funk albums above. It’s the bonuses you never knew you needed. But you do.
While many call James Brown the Godfather of Soul, it’s undeniable that he also set the foundation for modern funk that is instantly recognizable across all genres of funk including the neo-soul, rap, and pop counterparts. James Brown’s Super Bad concerts were legendary and were jam packed with his greatest hits that all had a life of their own.
James Brown Super Bad Live! is a culmination of tracks from the Atlanta and New York City concerts between 1980 and 1983 and could easily be dubbed Greatest Hits since it features everything from Try Me to Hot Pants to Payback to I Feel Good and everything in between. Hardcore JB heads will want to add this to their collection.
Take Me To The River: New Orleans is a fantastic documentary on the life and music of New Orleans. Thankfully, the soundtrack got a life all of its own and includes artists and performers that are instantly synonymous with New Orleans including the legendary Dr. John, Dumpstaphunk, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Galactic, and so many others.
The soundtrack includes 2 CD’s full of NOLA crawdad grit funk swing that consists of 26 songs in total. The soundtrack not only includes funk, but also delves into traditional jazz, Second line, R&B, hip hop, soul, and even some rock and roll. But no matter the derivation, it’s all rooted in the funk foundation and well worth your listen. Bring your own hot sauce.
Moniquea is no stranger to the Best Funk albums list from Funkatopia when she made her debut appearance here in 2020 with her album Los Robles and Washington. Her unique vocal style is refreshing and clean, and almost all of her music is heavily mired in funk.
On Repeat is not necessarily a new album, but it serves as a collection of 9 songs that she performed as a guest vocalist for other artists. The list of artists includes many that may not be familiar to you like Amadeo 85, Moon Riders, and then some funk artists that are more familiar like XL Middleton, and Mofak. If you love Moniquea‘s previous album releases but don’t follow the minutia of singles or rare appearances, this release will fill in many of the missing pieces.
Walter “Junie” Morrison is a literal funk legend. Starting his career in 1970 with Ohio Players as their producer, writer, keyboardist and vocalist on some of their biggest hits and albums. He broke away in 1974 to release three solo albums before then moving on to become a member of Parliament Funkadelic in 1977.
Junie Live at Dooley’s 1975 is just that. A solo concert in 1975 where he was backed by The Scoon Boogie Band (Don Payne, Earl Davis, Craig Moreland, Delbert Payne, Joe King, and horns of Al Carey, Larry Hatchett, and Mike Robert). The 54-minute concert slams a frenetic funkfest with a mixture of his solo work and Ohio Players bangers like FOPP, Pain / Cookies Will Get You / Pleasure / Ecstasy, (Standing On) Shakey Ground, and so much more including the closing track of Granny’s Funky Rolls Royce. If there’s one album you need to get on vinyl, this is it.
Closing out our Best Funk Albums of 2022 is none other than the eclectic styling of bassist Mononeon. While his instrumental album with Prince, Black Is The New Black still remains under shrouded secrecy in the purple vault, he eased the wait by releasing three albums worth of material in 2022. His two new albums, There Goes That Man Again Turning Water Into Gin and Juice and Put On Earth For You both clock in under 25 minutes and bring his standard kooky silly lyrics and heavy experimentation.
However, Mononeon Farts Live in Memphis is almost an hour-long live album from his Memphis, TN performance that pulls fan favorites into a satisfying collection of tracks including Hot Cheetos, Women, Water, and Weed, and Life Is a Glittery Fuckery. There is enough here to warrant an entry on the list and for fans of Mononeon‘s quirky playing style and lyricism, look no further.
Extra Bonuses from YOU!
And once again, lots of music to get you through 2023. And just like every year, our readers always have some great additions that we either missed or that they feel should have been here. And most of the time, they are SO right!
But if you add to this list in the comments, REMEMBER THE RULES!
- The albums must be in the funk realm (but we have some leniency here).
- The album must have been released in 2022
And of course, if you want to go back in time to see some of our other Best Funk Album Lists from previous years, here you go!
20 Best Funk Albums of 2021
20 Best Funk Albums of 2020
20 Best Funk Albums of 2019
20 Best Funk Albums of 2018
30 Best Funk Albums of 2017
20 Best Funk Albums of 2016
20 Best Funk Albums of 2015
20 Best Funk Albums of 2014