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Women of Funk: Where's the Beat Gone?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When it comes to music, funk has always been the closest to a cult religion: steadfastly followed by a few, hated by the masses.
Too bad we don't have true funkateers like we used to in the 1970s and 1980s. What we do have today though are a few hip-hop heads that manage to sing over beats dripping with funk juice and futuristic beats.
Here's why it matters:

Erykah Badu: Still on that Baduizm ish

The preeminent funk sister today has to be Erykah Badu, and not so much for the music. Badu, with an almost religious flair, has managed to stay in high regard to music fans because there simply hasn't been enough female artists to challenge mainstream radio like she has. Badu has never kowtowed to the pop crowd (not even the R&B crowd) yet she has millions of adoring fans in the U.S. She refuses to be pigeonholed into one style, but breathlessly flips genres like fingers through the Yellow Pages.

Joi: Underground and still the 'Lick'

To Erykah's heavenly vibe, there's the earthly, underground funk that is Joi, of Atlanta's underground soul scene. Joi actually was signed to a major label back int the 90s (anybody remember "The Ameoba Syndrome" or "Pendelum Vibe"?). Since then there's been the baby-birthin' and club-bangin'. Truth be told, Joi's music is more funkier though less known than Badu's. Badu has had the ever-elusive "hit," though and the Machine has done the rest.

Georgia Anne Muldrow: West Coast soulfulness

With a first name like Georgia, you know Ms. Anne Muldrow's voice is soulful as peaches at the Farmers Market. But when it comes to a talented, 21st century, futuristic funk-centric, soul woman? Muldrow doesn't have a future, she is the future. With Stone's Throw Records, Muldrow has mostly been experienced by the West Coast college set, but the East is right behind. Check out some of her recordings with Dudley Perkins, another left-field artist on the rise.

Janelle Monae: Waiting to blow

Janelle Monae is either music's best-kept secret or the Prodigal Musical One stillborn. While Monae's been out for a minute, radio has completely ruled her out; so has MTV, BET, and even ASCAP (who rallied around India Irie when she first came on the scene, and catapulted her several Grammy nominations in her rookie year). Monae, who rolled with Big Boi from Outkast for a minute was whisked under the tutelage of
Sean Diddy Combs only to be shelved (as many of his artists are). Will Monae finally break out and get to flex her musical muscles. For now, only in Metropolis.



2009 ·Popwife Blog by TNB