2019’s best funk albums are here!
For years, we’ve dug deep to compile a list of the best funk albums of the year as each one comes to a close. Our list of the best funk albums is coveted in the funk world and visited by hundreds of thousands of funk fans around the globe every year. It’s a big deal to be here.
AS ALWAYS, It’s GREATLY IMPORTANT that YOU realize that your favorite funk album of 2019 might not be here because a) we only pick 20 (plus some bonuses), b) it may not have been released in 2019, and c) we may not have even heard of it. So if we missed it, PLEASE share it in the comments area.
The funk albums listed below are not listed in numerical order. This is NOT a countdown. They are all funky and if it’s on this page, it’s worth your time!
Lettuce has gone through a wealth of band changes, but still maintain the ability to put out incredible funk albums. This one is no different. Elevate is full of surprises including the opening track featuring the funk synth styling of the brilliant Nigel Hall who now mans the keyboards in a more full time capacity.
While the world still has yet to fully absorb the insanity of greatness that Lettuce brings in the form of their live shows, their albums are always superb. If they ever come to your town to funk up your world, get there and pack your purse or pockets accordingly.
While many aren’t familiar with the name Jake Najor, his work is known by many as California’s beatmaker and a previous member of Breakestra. His work has been called upon by Raphael Saadiq, TV On The Radio, Kelis, Joss Stone, De La Soul and so many others.
This is his debut album that is a collection of some of the funkiest songs on the planet that also features players from bands like Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, Breakestra, Ziggy Marley, and tons more. You need this.
Let’s face it, The Brand New Heavies may not have been the first to do acid jazz to the world, but they certainly exploded it onto the scene in 1990 and made everyone fully aware of the new music genre. And at the same time making Simon Bartholomew and Anthony Levy the poster children for the acid jazz movement.
Not only does the newest release TBNH feature their vocalist Angela Ricci, but also her royal highness N’Dea Davenport, Grammy award winner Siedah Garrett, British soul queen Beverly Knight and even Angie Stone. If you love TBNH, you’ll love TBNH. See what we did there?
Speaking of The Brand New Heavies, their label mates Corduroy were also signed to UK’s Acid Jazz Records and released three incredible albums during their tenure. They then jumped ship to a major label and their fans referred to their new musical direction as their Psy-Fi years.
As a result of that era, there were a lot of great new music along with many tunes that fell to the wayside during those major label releases. As a result, Corduroy reunited and headed back to the Acid Jazz under the sister label Well Suspect along with a fistful of those tunes from those years and threw in B-sides and rarities for good measure.
Jordan John has been in the music industry for quite a while as a multi-instrumentalist including opening for Aretha Franklin, getting to sit in on drums for Prince, and many other artists around the globe. You can hear the Jordan John interview that Funkatopia‘s Mr. Christopher did with him to find out more about his unbelievably storied past.
He finally gets his due by showing off all of his talents on both instruments and vocals that is a delightful burst of funk that has elements of Average White Band, Tower of Power, Prince, and a heaping serving of James Brown for good measure.
Speaking of an artists that has seen and done it all, Karl Denson is that dude. Having shared the stage with everyone from The Neville Brothers to The Rolling Stones (a hilarious story about that here), he has seen and done it all.
Karl Denson‘s band Tiny Universe releases their new album Gnomes and Badgers that is filled with political “state of the world” dialog wrapped into a funky sax infused package that is the darling of music festivals around the world in what seems like a never ending touring schedule.
Son of one of the most legendary members of Parliament Funkadelic, Garry Shider, Garrett Shider aka Star Child Jr. is a force to be reckoned with in the funk world. If we had to pick one single album on this entire list to be the representative of the best funk album of the year, this would be it.
The album was literally a last minute addition to this list after we had already completed compiling the list. And we’re so glad it was brought to our attention before we posted the 2019 list. It’s true unadulterated funk complete with the P-Funk vibe and Bernie Worrell woo-wstyle synths. It is impeccable funk perfection.
Freekbass first grabbed our attention during a Bear Creek Music Festival years ago when he played bass alongside the legendary Bernie Worrell in 2013. Things have changed dramatically over the past half decade and his affinity for focusing on his marketing has finally caught up with his production as he brings The New Mastersounds Eddie Roberts into the mix.
The result is a sleek collection of funk tracks that seem to push him to the edge and that finally showcases and captures his immense bass skills that is loaded with blistering solos and tricky funk riffs.
It’s no secret that producer/singer/performer Mayer Hawthorne is a massive funk freak. However, as a fan, you’re never quite sure which version of him that you’ll get with each new release. Will it head down the path of a nostalgic pop nuances, beautiful layered masterpieces like Where Does This Door Go? or flat out funk.
Make no mistake that his creations with producer Jake One in the form of their band Tuxedo is all about funk meets disco. Every release from the Tuxedo project has ended up on our Best Of Funk lists starting with their first release back in 2015 and was followed by their next in 2017. So it’s no surprise that their newest release finds its way here with it’s colorful pop funk infusion.
Bassist Ted Gould III better known as Brother Theodore has honed his chops with funk legends like Zigaboo Modeliste and he breaks out of the shadows with his debut album that seems like an amazing signal of things to come.
The Prince sounding influences are all over this album and even features appearances from Prince alumni Matt “Doctor” Fink and Levi Seacer, Jr.. The album is packed with his signature heavy bass tones and even includes a version of the Brother Johnsons‘ song Strawberry Letter 23.
The four member crew of Canadian band The Lionyls come out swinging with their sophomore effort The Lionyls 2. Their journey seemed ordained when they captured a band contest called Big Money Shot on Canadian station Live 88.5 in 2014 which opened up the doors to multiple festivals and supporting act slots.
They released their funk and soul debut album The Lionyls in 2017 that showcased their unique blend of rock-soul fusion. The Lionyls 2 picks up where the debut left off and continues an impressive progression that takes the funk quotient up a whole bunch of notches.
If this band has Prince influences layered throughout their music, there’s a great reason for it. Not only do they hail from Minneapolis, MN, but they have also shared the stage with The Petersons, NPG, Judith Hill, Shelby J, Alexander O’Neal and more.
While you’d expect that kind of work history to be slathered in purple, their sound is also fully drenched in the Ohio sound with dabs of Parliament and Zapp thrown in for good measure.
Formed in 2015, The Grooveliner hails from St. Louis, MO and they had a very difficult time classifying themselves as to whether they were rock, soul, funk, or Latin flavored. The end result is a mashup of all of those genres with a common thread of funk all the way through.
Their sophomore effort should be recognized for their fantastic funk riffs and raw production that sounds as if you’re behind the scenes sitting in on one great funk jam session. The beauty of this album is in its rawness.
Build Bridges is the third album from West Coast stalwarts The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble who are becoming more well known as time goes on by injecting themselves into similar bands around the region and making guest appearances on similarly minded projects like Jake Najor.
The album is hardcore jazz influenced, but maintains the funk sensibilities that is layered in production effects that age the music like the mighty Orgone. It’s like lost cuts from the Fritz The Cat soundtrack, but better.
We can’t think of anyone that has probably worked harder in 2019 than Diamond Ortiz. Not only did he produce one of the best funk albums of the year, he also pushed out another album Paid Perfection earlier in the year which housed lost tracks and sprinkled it with new music. Then if that wasn’t enough, he delivered a new EP Twenny Fo’ Seven (24/7).
Certified features more of the mid-80’s Debbie Deb like grooves that were free-standing from the MPLS movement or the new waving keyboard stabs. It re-enacts everything that was good about the dance hall hits of that era and brings a new layer of freshness to it with Diamond Ortiz performing on bass to guitar, programming, production and everything in between.
We’re not sure how this release went unnoticed with the exception that their marketing was non-existent. Although Pleasure‘s new release hit #13 in the U.K., it was relatively absent in the states. Pleasure formed in 1972 (yes, 48 years ago) and experienced their first hit Glide in 1979.
While the new lineup features some new members, it still has a few of the original members at the core. The spirit of the funk is still very much alive and well. It’s got that perfect 80’s pop funk formula for all of us grown folk.
Cory Wong has been around the block and what is the most notable about him is not just his resumé, but his overwhelming admirable childhood giddiness as if he’s living his best dream. His solo work is extremely impressive as is his work with cult icons Vulfpeck.
When he’s not riffing amazing guitar work, he is shouting, laughing, giggling, and getting totally amped up about his music. All of which is captured on his 3rd album Motivational Music For the Syncopated Soul that is packed full of funk. The album has guest players like Sonny Thompson and Jon Batiste, but the most infectious element is Cory Wong himself.
Eddie Roberts is a very busy man. When he’s not sitting in as part of Foundations Of Funk or performing and producing new albums from artists like Freekbass, he’s part of the legendary powerhouse that is The New Mastersounds. And none of the other members are any less busy, so how they managed to carve out a release in 2019 is beyond us.
While most of their releases are instrumental, they occasionally partner with vocalists that season well with their sound. This release finds them joining forces with vocalist Lamar Williams, Jr. who melds well with the project and creates a sound similar to The Meters with a more accentuated deep Louisiana Cajun growl.
Orgone has seen its share of vocalists, and all of which have been very similar to each other in some form or fashion. But for the most part, they subscribe to The Brand New Heavies formula of being part instrumental, part female fronted band.
They also still have a magical ability to capture the 70’s funk and soul sound that they accomplish through paying homage to the era which in the past has sometimes decided their choice of instrumentation all the way down to the way they record in studio, which even includes recording on reel to reel if at all possible. The 70’s funk vibe is completely in tact here.
Death or Devotion is The Motet‘s 9th studio album over their almost 20 year existence. Like Lettuce, The Motet is synonymous with live funk jam bands. If there is a funk festival, there’s a high probability that The Motet is on the billing as they tour relentlessly.
Lyle Divinsky is one of the newest members of the band as the lead vocalist and he had some tough shoes to fill as he shared with Funkatopia’s Mr. Christopher. The end result was one very thick funk album where the jam band aficionados do their best work and this time they capture the jam vibe on record, which is always tough to do.
ARE YOU READY!? SURPRISE!
WE HAVE EIGHT BONUSES!
We wanted to make sure that you had an AMAZING 2020 and that we fill your home with a blizzard of incredible new funk music. Below you will find a staggering EIGHT additional albums. Some are reissues, collections, EP’s and some that are funky, different, and just fantastic. Enjoy!
We are well aware that whenever we mention Prince, that funk-purists eyes roll back into their heads. Especially here, where it’s evident that we hold Prince in very high regard and give him a wealth of exposure on the website and the FUNKEDUP funk radio show.
However, even funk purists will have to admit that the Super Deluxe edition of 1999 was a masterpiece that not only remastered a funk classic, but that also tacked on not one, but two CD’s (or 4 vinyl LP’s) of brand new music featuring unreleased tracks and versions of iconic bootlegs that no one has ever laid their ears on before, which further solidified his brilliance.
It was a magical day in music history on August 17th in 1969 when Sly and The Family Stone stepped on the stage at Woodstock. Lucky for us, it was captured in all of its magic.
While the powers that be released a super expensive complete Woodstock box set, which eventually saw a more reasonable priced release, we at least have this, which is pure magic.
Most people haven’t even heard of the Dutch funk jazz band Tristan, but this is their 5th album and it’s a doozy. It’s lighter fare than most here and infectiously happy.
Throughout this mostly jazz flavored release, you’ll find blistering piano riffs, frenetic drums, tight chord changes, and silky vocals that hearken back to early Swing Out Sister with intense levels of production and polish. This is the album for jazz lovers who like funk layered in for good measure.
When we saw Chaka Khan‘s new album Hello Happiness come across the desk, we immediately made an assumption that it would have one or two funky tunes and the rest would be laid back soul. Boy, were we surprised.
Hello Happiness has not one single slow “love jam” in the mix. The album only clocks in at around 27 minutes and only two songs of which are slower, but they aren’t slow jams. They are more in the styling of Papa Was a Rolling Stone or The Temptations Ball of Confusion style of paced tracks. This album is only 7 tracks, but it is FIRE!
This album is a live recording of the techno-funk duo The Floozies show in Atlanta, GA performed earlier in 2019 at The Tabernacle.
The show is packed to the hilt with over an hour and a half of music complete with guest stars including Ryan Zoidis and Eric Benny Bloom from Lettuce and even Karl Denson. The amount of sound that the band is able to produce is breathtaking in itself.
When anyone is asked to name off as many New Orleans based bands as they can, it’s without question that one of the top 3 to be named would be The Meters.
This collection represents every one of their albums that has ever been released between 1969 and 1977. While the 1995 release Funkify Your Life: The Meters Anthology also claimed to be of the exact same era, it only dropped a total of 43 tracks. This new release dumploads more than twice the funk on your face with 87 tracks representing 5 hours and 23 minutes of music.
Peter Aargard‘s Galactic Funk project is a strange one. It pays homage to the mighty Prince and he does everything in his power to make sure that it’s as memorable as possible.
The album is only two tracks (each around 45 minutes) and is available on purple vinyl and can only be explained as raw funk experimentation and organized chaos that borrows elements from Prince‘s sound library and the unexpected freestyling of Parliament Funkadelic all rolled into one unusual, but brilliant piece of bizzarity. That’s now a word.
Slave is one funk band that is consistently on the list of greatest all time funk projects to exist and ever grace the airwaves. From the funk classic Slide to the grooving Just a Touch Of Love, Slave was everywhere.
Their career started in 1977 on the Cotillion record label and they stayed there until their final album release of New Plateau in 1984. This collection features every album release on Cotillion which constitutes 9 albums that represent 70 songs that collectively offer 5 hours and 47 minutes worth of music. That is way too much funk to absorb in one sitting, but it’s worth a try!
Extra Bonuses from YOU!
That should be enough to tide you over, but every year our readers keep us in the loop on releases that we missed or that they feel should have been here. And most of the time, they are SO right!
Check the suggestions below from you! But remember the rules!
- The albums must be funk
- The album must have ben released in 2019
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 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