Photo: Rachel Kupfer
James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.
It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.
Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.
Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.
In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.
Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.
There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out GRAMMY.com's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.
Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.
While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."
Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.
Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.
Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.
Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.
L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.
During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.
Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.
Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.
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Source Photos (Clockwise, L-R): YG Entertainment, Edwig Henson, Frank Ockenfels, Pierre-Ange Carlotti
With fall just around the corner, GRAMMY.com is highlighting the can't-miss, new albums dropping this month from Marcus Mumford, Christine and The Queens, Sudan Archives, Divino Niño, and many more.
With a too-short summer of hot, new music soon coming to a close, September is here to keep the musical heat burning. A host of new albums across all genres is set for release in the days and weeks ahead, from highly anticipated debuts to triumphant returns.
September sees the much-anticipated return of K-pop queens BLACKPINK with their second album, BORN PINK, while on the musical flipside, Marcus Mumford, of folk rock trio Mumford & Sons, releases his debut solo LP, (self-titled). The rest of the month revs up with a dose of bachata music (Romeo Santos' Formula Vol. 3), emotionally probing pop (Noah Cyrus' The Hardest Part), boundary-pushing Afrofuturism (Sudan Archives Natural Brown Prom Queen), dreamlike electronics (Franc Moody's Into the Ether), rousing country (Maddie & Tae's Through The Madness Vol. 2), and so much more.
Below, check out a stacked lineup of new albums dropping in September 2022, just in time to soundtrack your upcoming fall activities. After all, there's nothing cozier than the company of a brand-new, good album.
Who better to grace the first day of the month with a new album than the "King of Bachata" himself, Romeo Santos? Back in February, the Dominican American artist released the sultry "Sus Huellas" as the first single from Formula Vol. 3. True to form, it shot to No. 1 on Billboard's Tropical Airplay chart and has since clocked up 47 million views on YouTube. Formula Vol. 1 (2011) earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Tropical Latin Album, while Formula Vol. 2 (2014) is certified 27-times multi-platinum and featured the Billboard Hot 100 hit "Odio," featuring Drake. "I'm competitive with myself and my material," Santos told Billboard in 2014, so expect a big splash from Formula Vol. 3.
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London electronic duo Franc Moody made a strong first impression on their debut album, Dream in Colour, released in February 2020. Soon after, the pandemic brought the world — and Franc Moody's tour plans — screeching to a halt. Rather than despair, the duo escaped into music.
"It was during those months our longing to be out on the road with the band playing live shows developed into a dreamlike state, conjuring up imagery of us and the band traveling through the desert on a journey to find whatever it was that we were craving," the band explained in a statement. That yearning, dreamlike state reverberates throughout Into The Ether, with nods to the film scores of Ennio Morricone. Rest assured, though: Franc Moody's latest single, "I'm In A Funk," is still fit for dancing.
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September heralds the return of genre-bending shapeshifter Santigold with Spirituals. Mostly recorded during the 2020 COVID lockdown, a defining theme behind the making of the album, and released independently through her own Little Jerk Records, Spirituals is Santigold's first album in six years.
In a statement, Santigold described "losing touch with the artist [in] me" while caring for her three children during a pandemic. "Recording this album was a way back to myself after being stuck in survival mode," she said. Preceded by the energizing singles "High Priestess" and "Ain't Ready," Spirituals finds Santigold collaborating with producers like Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Boys Noize, Dre Skull, and SBTRKT, all while staying true to her own boundary-pushing vision.
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Signed to tastemaking label Stones Throw Records, Sudan Archives has been pushing the boundaries of electro and R&B since her self-titled 2017 debut EP. This month, she returns with Natural Brown Prom Queen, which has all the signs of her most out-there project to date. The album's advance singles, "Selfish Soul," "Home Maker" and "NBPQ (Topless)," have already earned widespread praise for their originality and wild flourishes. Sudan Archives heads out on the Homecoming Tour this fall, where she'll bring the futuristic sound of Natural Brown Prom Queen to life.
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You don't need to be a K-pop expert to know that a new BLACKPINK album is a very big deal: Anyone knows an album is highly anticipated when even its 30-second announcement trailer clocks 23 million YouTube views. BLACKPINK's BORN PINK follows the group's 2020 debut, The Album, which featured several high-gloss hits, including "Bet You Wanna" with Cardi B and "Ice Cream" with Selena Gomez.
Already, BLACKPINK's latest single, "Pink Venom," excitedly sets the stage for BORN PINK, with a music video that has "Blinks" in raptures.
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One of the most distinctive new voices in pop, Noah Cyrus will release her debut album, The Hardest Part, at long last this month. With music in her family genes (case in point: father Billy Ray and sister Miley), the Nashville-born singer/songwriter has carved out her own path with raw, emotionally honest songs that showcase her distinctively smoky vocals. The Hardest Part follows a run of promising singles, including "Every Beginning Ends," a tender duet with Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie. Cyrus, who was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2021 GRAMMYs, is set to showcase the songs this fall on an extensive headlining North American tour.
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While folk rock believers already know Marcus Mumford as the lead singer of Mumford & Sons, the artist steps out on his own this month with his first solo album, (self-titled). Mumford has already revealed the singles "Better Off High," "Cannibal" and "Grace," which find the singer/songwriter baring his soul via his signature mix of sensitivity and grit. While the album is very much Mumford's own, (self-titled) also features Brandi Carlile, Phoebe Bridgers and Monica Martin as guests. He's on tour across the U.S. this fall, with a smattering of shows already sold out.
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Back in February 2020, Christine and The Queens released the La vita nuova EP, featuring one of his most affecting songs to date, "People, I've been sad." This month, Christine and The Queens returns under the mysterious alias Redcar with Redcar les adorables étoiles, the French artist's first full-length album since 2018's Chris. Lately, Christine and The Queens has kept busy as a featured artist, appearing on Charli XCX's "New Shapes," alongside Caroline Polachek, and 070 Shake ("Body"). As evidenced on lead single, "Je te vois enfin," Redcar les adorables étoiles is a September gift for synth-pop-loving Francophiles.
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Coming out of the fertile Chicago scene, Divino Niño's music is as vibrant and diverse as its five members. You can hear their kaleidoscopic range on "Tu Tonto" — the lead single off Last Spa on Earth, the band's first new album in three years — which channels the energy of neoperreo, a subgenre of reggaeton that's close to their hearts.
Led by Javier Forero and Camilo Medina, who grew up together in Bogotá, Colombia, Divino Niño are now a five-piece band, with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Justin Vittori. After the mellow, blissed-out vibe of Divino Niño's 2019 debut album, Foam, Last Spa on Earth promises to be dancier and more adventurous, with the majority of the album's songs performed in Spanish. You can catch Divino Niño on tour with Mexico's Little Jesus starting this month.
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Country-pop singer/songwriters Maddie & Tae are back this month with Through The Madness Vol. 2, a new collection of songs co-written by the duo alongside some of Nashville's most esteemed songwriters. The release is the second installment in the group's beloved Through The Madness series, which debuted at the top of this year.
Maddie & Tae, best known for their country hits like "Die From a Broken Heart" and "Girl In A Country Song," will celebrate their very prolific year by headlining the CMT Next Women of Country Tour Presents: All Song No Static Tour this September and October.
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Photo (L-R): Ria Mort, Thanos Poulimenos
Frequent songwriting partners Katerine Duska and Leon Of Athens grapple with a relationship full of miscommunication in this emotional duet, which they debut with a powerful Global Spin performance.
"Can I love you a little more clearly?" Katerine Duska and Leon of Athens sing in the emotional chorus of their new song, "Babel." "Can we get it right? Can we talk another night away?"
In this episode of Global Spin, the two pop singers — and frequent songwriting partners — effortlessly trade off between Greek and English in a compelling performance. But as beautiful as the bilingual, harmony-driven duet may be, "Babel" chronicles a fraught relationship where, ultimately, the love gets lost in translation.
"Babel" brings the two lovers back to where they started: Frustrated and failing to see eye to eye, but still invested in one another. That narrative pairs with an equally passionate, string-filled sonic backdrop in this song, which Duska and Leon of Athens premiere on Global Spin.
The song's visual component further underscores its message. Duska and Leon of Athens perform the song from a bed, surrounded by candles and rippling water. As they wrestle through their disagreements — both lyrically and physically — the two artists make an attempt to find tenderness, but their best efforts dissolve into frustration and disconnection.
The bilingual duo have co-written several times in the past, and they're no strangers to performing together, either. Their first duet, "ANEMOS," came out in 2019; a year later, the pair released another collaboration, "Communication."
Press play on the video above to get a first look at the latest collaboration between Katerine Duska and Leon of Athens, and keep checking GRAMMY.com every Tuesday for more new episodes of Global Spin.
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Over plates of Nigerian jollof rice, global superstar Akon and Afrobeats mainstay Teemanay explain the finer points of this staple West African dish — which is also their staple meal on the road.
When it comes to music, R&B giant Akon and rising Afrobeats star Teemanay (aka Young Icon) have a lot in common. Not only are they both from West Africa — Akon's family roots are in Senegal, while Teemanay hails from Nigeria – but the two teamed up on the four-song EP Konvict Kulture Presents Teemanay, which came out on Akon's label earlier this year.
The two acts have similar tastes when it comes to food, too — though they might disagree on the finer points. Jollof rice, a staple throughout West Africa, is a dish that both artists grew up loving, even though they hail from different countries within the region.
"For a meal, if they have jollof rice for me, I will give them an extra 15 minutes of free performance," Teemanay jokes in the newest episode of Herbal Tea & White Sofas.
"So the rice is actually smoked, almost like when you cook barbeque," Akon details, explaining what it is that makes this particular dish so special. "When you look at jollof, it ranks in the top five of those things you just can't forget. It's a part of the meal, every meal."
The dish is so essential that Akon hosts an annual Jollof, Music & Food Festival in Atlanta, which features a lineup of music and food trucks. But the pinnacle of the event is the jollof cook-off, in which recipes from different countries compete to see which region creates the best version of the dish.
"This year, Senegal won. But we kinda expect that, because Senegal is really the creators of jollof rice," Akon proudly explains, as Teemanay shakes his head in disagreement.
"I'm in a very aggressive, fighting mood right now," Teemanay shoots back with a smirk. "Nigerian jollof is the best jollof in the world."
Whichever regional version they prefer, Akon and Teemanay can agree on one thing: There's no better post-show meal or tour bus snack out there than jollof rice.
Press play on the video above to watch the two stars duke it out over their favorite jollof, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Herbal Tea & White Sofas.
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Photo: Suriyawut Suriya / EyeEm via Getty Images
Are you in a position to donate to musicians in a state of financial or personal crisis on this GivingTuesday? Check out these nine charitable organizations — beneath the Recording Academy umbrella and otherwise.
Imagine a world where care and concern is distributed in a holistic circuit, rather than being hoarded away or never employed at all. That's the paradigm that GivingTuesday is reaching toward.
Created in 2012 under the simple precept of being generous and celebrating generosity, GivingTuesday is a practical hub for getting involved in one's community and giving as freely to benefit and nourish others.
Since GivingTuesday has swelled not just from a single day in the calendar year, but a lens through which to view the other 364 days. You can find your local GivingTuesday network here, find ways to participate here, and find ways to join GivingTuesday events here.
Where does the Recording Academy come in? Helping musicians in need isn't something they do on the side, an afterthought while they hand out awards.
No, aiding music people is at the core of the Academy's mission. MusiCares, the Academy's philanthropic arm, has changed innumerable lives for the better.
And through this society of music professionals and its other major components — including Advocacy, the GRAMMY Museum and GRAMMY U — the Academy continues its fight in legislative and educational forms.
If you're willing and able to help musicians in need this GivingTuesday, here's a helpful hub of nine charitable organizations with whom you can do so.
Any list of orgs that aid musicians would be remiss to not include MusiCares.
Through the generosity of donors and volunteer professionals, this organization of committed service members has been able to aid struggling music people in three key areas: mental health and addiction recovery services, health services, and human services.
For more information on each of those, visit here. To apply for assistance, click here. And to donate to MusiCares, head here.
"Museum" might be right there in the name, but there's a lot more to this precious sector of the Recording Academy.
The GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles doesn't just put on immersive exhibits that honor the legacies of musical giants; it's a hub for music education.
At press time, more than 20,000 students have visited the Museum, more than 10,000 students have participated in the Museum's Clive Davis theater, and 20,000 students have participated in their GRAMMY Camp weekends.
To donate to the GRAMMY Museum, click here. To become a member, visit here.
By now, the evidence is ironclad: Giving incarcerated people access to music and art dramatically increases morale and decreases recidivism.
Give a Beat is keenly aware of this, both on direct-impact and mentorship levels.
The org hosts classes for incarcerated people, in order for them to "find healing, transformation, and empowerment" through its Prison Electronic Music Program, which helps incarcerated folks wade deep into the fields of music production and DJing.
Its On a New Track Reentry Mentoring Program initiative connects music industry professionals with formerly incarcerated individuals in order to transfer their skills into a professional setting.
To become a member of Give a Beat, click here. To donate, visit here.
Despite being at the heart of American musical expression, jazz, blues and roots can sometimes feel roped off on the sidelines of the music industry — and its practitioners can slip between society's cracks.
That's where the Jazz Foundation of America comes in. They aid musicians struggling to hang onto their homes, connect physicians and specialists with uninsured artists and help musicians get back on their feet after life-upending natural disasters.
To donate to the Jazz Foundation, click here; for all other info, visit their website.
Headquartered in Memphis, the Blues Foundation aims to preserve the history and heritage of the blues — which lies at the heart of all American forms. This goes not only for irreplaceable sites and artifacts, but the living, breathing people who continue to make it.
The Blues Foundation offers educational outreach, providing scholarships to youth performers to attend summer blues camps and workshops.
On top of that, in the early 2000s, they created the HART Fund to offer financial support to musicians in need of medical, dental, and vision care.
And for blues artists who have passed on, the HART Fund diverts money to their families to ensure their loved ones would be guaranteed dignified funerals.
For more information on the Blues Foundation, visit here. To donate, click here.
Founded all the way back when World War I broke out, the Musicians Foundation has spent more than a century cutting checks to musicians in times of need.
This includes financial grants to cover basic expenses, like medical and dental treatments, rents and mortgages and utilities. Submitted grant applications are reviewed by their staff and a screening committee. If approved, the money is dispatched rapidly and directly to the debtor to relieve financial pressure as soon as possible.
The Musicians Foundation's philanthropic legacy is enshrined in Century of Giving, a comprehensive analysis of financial aid granted to musicians and their families by the Foundation since 1914.
For more information, visit here; click here to donate.
Based in North Carolina, the Music Maker Foundation tends to the day-to-day needs of American roots artists — helping them negotiate crises so they can "keep roofs over their heads, food on their tables, [and] instruments in their hands."
This relief comes in the forms of basic sustenance, resources performance (like booking venues and providing CDs to sell) and spreading education about their contributions to the American roots canon.
Check out their website for more information; to donate, click here.
When music people are in danger, this charitable organization sees no barriers of genre, region or nature of crisis.
If you're a musician suffering from physical, mental or financial hardship — whether it be due to a disability, an affliction like cancer, or anything else — Sweet Relief has got your back.
There are numerous ways to support Sweet Relief; you can become a partner, intern or volunteer, or simply chip in a few bucks for one of their various funds to keep their selfless work moving.
For any and all further information, visit their website.
The Recording Academy's concern and consideration for music people hardly stops at musicians — they're here to support all music people.
They share this operating principle with Music Workers Alliance, which tirelessly labors to ensure music people are treated like they matter — and are fairly remunerated for their efforts.
This takes many forms, like fighting for music workers at the federal, state and city level for access to benefits and fair protections, and ensuring economic justice and fair working conditions.
Music Workers Alliance also fights for economic justice on the digital plane, and aims to provide equal access for people of color and other underrepresented groups in the industry.
For more info, visit their website; for ways to get involved, click here.
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