The Foundation of Funk

If Mondays are my self-critique days (see post below) then Fridays are my grateful days.

Good lord willing – as the old folks used to say – Friday brings the certainty of Saturday and Sunday and my spirit truly welcomes the days of relaxation.

My mind is best able to reflect on the things that I’m grateful for during the times of least stress.

For the first time last week I heard Jay-Z and Kanye’s new song.  I’m referring to the song that starts off with the opening of Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness.  After the opening you hear Jay and Kanye rap and the hook/chorus is all Otis.  I’m not going to go into some diatribe about hip-hop and its legacy of sampling – some might say taking from the classics.  I do believe that sampling has its place and that there have been some amazing songs that have resulted from this practice.

BUT when I heard Jay-Z and Kanye’s song, at the exact point when Try A Little Tenderness cuts off and Jay-Yay start rapping I instantly felt grateful with a slight mix of sorrow.

Grateful because I not only knew the original song but that I had also been taught to appreciate the musical genius of Otis Redding and his contemporaries – the Wilson Picketts (aka Wicked Pickett), the James Browns, Sam Cooks etc.  Sorrow because I’m certain that there are millions of people out there that have NO idea about the rich musical legacy, funk foundation, and cultural heritage from which that music originates.

To be clear – I’m not blaming Jay-Yay.  If anything their sampling of the song might cause some people to research Otis Redding and his rich body of work.  I am simply grateful for being brought up with an understanding of funk’s foundation.

What’s is Funk? — Soul music in its purest, most untouched form.  Music that speaks to you.  Music that will be a hit because it was universal then and it’s universal now.

Listen to this man talk about tenderness…listen to this man sympathize with a weary woman – if this man’s voice doesn’t speak to your soul and make something inside you listen, what does?

Sam Cook’s certainty that change would come…

Wilson Pickett warning sally to slow that mustang down…

JB – talking bout wanting to do his thing, like a sex machine…

THIS IS FUNK in its purest, most-original, un-adulterated form.

I don’t have children and I don’t have nieces or nephews but for those of you that have any or all of the above you owe them a talk about funk and soul music.  Any child/children that come into my life will get this conversation.  And it won’t just be a conversation – if they are my children it will be a lifetime of understanding the foundation and it might get on their nerves but who cares?

Honestly I can’t imagine that a child would hear Chris Brown’s He Ain’t Me on the radio and not – at some point – be thoroughly educated on the fact that Michael Jackson’s Human Nature was a hit in 83’…It was a hit in 92’ when it was sampled on SWV’s Right Here and it will be a hit this year on Chris Brown’s CD – why?

Because it’s original funk.

Keep it funky this weekend.


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