I may have mentioned before that I’m in the middle of an already multi-year project in which I listen to my iTunes in order from A-Z. It took yesterday and today to get through the songs that start with different permutations of the word “funk” and let me tell you, it was a pretty GD good couple of days. This was my inspiration to pluck out some choice bangers, so without further ado I present the top 5 songs in my iTunes that start with the word “funk.”
#5 – “Funky Cold Medina” by Tone Loc
This is kind of a tricky one. “Funky Cold Medina” was one of my first cassette singles back in the day and I lovvvvved it almost to “Humpty Dance” levels. But now, when I listen to it, I do a few aural double-takes. Like, Tone, slipping something into girls’ drinks to make them fall in love with you is a little on the Ricky Rozay rapey side. Granted it’s supposed to be a “love potion,” and maybe those were slightly more innocent times, but still. And the whole Sheena thing…maybe a little transphobic there, buddy. I’m interested in your take on this, readers. Holler in the comments.
#4 – “Funkdafied” by Da Brat
Ahh, the halcyon days of early-mid ’90s hip hop when there was so much reverence for funk. Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg all got me excited about listening to Parliament and the like. Another rapper who was working those ’70s vibrations to the max was Da Brat – especially with this track. So-oo-ooo, so-oo-ooo, so-oo-ooo funkdafied.
#3 – “Funky President (People It’s Bad)” by James Brown
This song was originally written as a Gerald Ford diss track. James Brown was like – yeah, Nixon’s out and Ford’s in, but sh*t’s still f*cked up out’chea. We’ve had a lot of funky presidents. Remember a few years ago when we had a REALLY funky president? Let’s just say I listened to this song a lot from 2000-2008.
#2 – “Funky Soul Makossa” by Nairobi and the Awesome Foursome
Everyone’s heard “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” in which MJ riffs on “mama ko mama sa ma-ma-makossa” in the song’s epic breakdown. The root of all that is a style of music from Cameroon called Makossa which started in the ’60s. The genre made its way to NYC in 1972, when Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa” was played at a loft party and it blew up – one of the first sparks of what was to become disco. In 1982, the same year as MJ used bits of the song, early rap group Nairobi and the Awesome Foursome took it and morphed it into one of those classic 7-minute proto-rap tracks. And, it’s some good sh*t.
#1 – “Funkin’ for Jamaica (NY)” by Tom Browne
Hearing this song was a life-improving moment for me. I know I’d heard it before and I’d definitely heard its influence in samples and covers, but I don’t think I’d ever sat down and just listened to it straight up. AND WHY NOT, for the love of god? This song is flipping amazing. I find myself doing this weird dad-style/stank face chair dance whenever I hear it now. And I hear it a lot because I play it on repeat on the reg. Oh, and it’s about Jamaica, Queens, not the island. Props to the vocal stylings of Toni Smith as well.