For a while now I’ve been attempting to make a ΔY Funk Collection with purely tracks from the late 70s-early 80s period, AKA the golden age for funky disco. Unfortunately, I always keep adding other time areas in the mix too. What I can promise though, is that every track in here is based somehow on music from that period.
The 24 Carat Black – Poverty’s Paradise (1973)
This track is as close as you can get to telling a real story. The message is so strong and so filled with metaphors, that it’s basically impossible not to visualize the circumstances this singer lived in. It’s a humbling experience for sure.
The 24 Carat Black was an American Soul and Funk band who had a short life span. They only recorded one album in the early 70s, but they went on having a big following and numerous hiphop producers sampled their works. Think about Eric B, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, …the list goes on!
Common – The People (Instrumental Mix) (2007)
No one less than Kanye West produced this gem. The track contains samples of oldies by Gill Scot-Heron, The Fatback Band, Mountain, … It’s almost impossible to distinguish the original tracks when you listen without being very attentive. The track itself didn’t get much mainstream attention in the 2007 charts, but nonetheless it became one of the most critically acclaimed songs of the year. It actually received a Grammy nomination for best Rap Solo Performance.
For this Funk Collection I chose to use the instrumental version to emphasize the sampling skills of Kanye West.
Sonya Spence – Let Love Flow On (1981)
This is one of these rare tracks which got late support from DJ’s like Jeremy Underground. It’s really difficult to find anything online about Sonya Spence. She has no Wikipedia page, no Discogs bio, no Last FM description, nada! Digging a bit deeper reveals that Sonya has Jamaican roots and she had a moderate following only in the Caribbean.
Sonya had a very turbulent life and had a lot of drug related problems. She ended up very quickly as a forgotten singer, neglected in the shadow of the many Jamaican artists of that time.
Luther Davis Group – You Can be a Star (1979)
Another band from which there is very little content to find on the interwebs, but sometimes appears in disco dj sets. Recently Daphni, the alter ego of Caribou, made an edit of this track. Personally, I am not a big fan of the edit, but feel free to judge for yourself.
Arian – Your Love Makes Me a Winner (1981)
Arian is a disco singer of the former Yugoslavia. He made a few recordings in NYC. A fun fact is that for a large portion of the songs he made, he also recorded a version with Croatian lyrics. For example listen to Lutaš Velikim Gradom, the croatian version of the current song. It’s a very catchy happy song and it has a tendency to stick in your head.
This track rose to my attention after the German DJ Motor City Drum Ensemble (MCDE) played it at Dimensions Festival. I wonder if it’s coincidence that this festival is also held in Croatia, almost seems like he picked it up at a local record store before the gig started.
The Fatback Band – Let the drums Speak (1975)
This is a track which has been sampled over and over again, the loose drumbeats were heaven for hiphop producers. Actually, the track by Common in the beginning of this Funk Collection used this track as a sample, but in such a clever way it’s almost unrecognizable. Overall, it’s a very catchy funk track that will always sound fresh in my opinion.
The Fatback band, later simply called Fatback, was formed in 1970 in New York City. It was the ghostchild of the experienced jazz drummer Bill Curtis, inspired to merge the “Fatback” Jazz Beat of New Orleans with the new upcoming Funk elements. In the next 20 years they went on making many hits, venturing into the disco and R&B charts. Their 1979 song “King Tim III (Personality Jock)” is sometimes considered the first hiphop single. Got to love the rhymes of the MC: “Cause I’m well known just like Burger King, I don’t sell burgers or french fries, I’m only here to make your nature right”.
Black Cock – Juicy Sushi (1994)
This artist made it really hard to inquire about his music without being embarrassed. Asking in a record shop if they have some ‘Black Cock’ will most certainly raise some eyebrows and you’ll get asked if you entered the right shop…
All kidding aside, Black Cock made a really cool interpretation of the track ‘Made in USA – Never Gonna Let You Go’ released in 1977.
I found this track by watching the MCDE episode of the ‘Between the Beats’ series by Resident Advisor. MCDE used the track in one of his Boiler Room shows, the audience liked it so much that a random guy did an instant rewind of the record. A euphoric moment for sure!