This was a rich year for groundbreaking Soul and Funk music, with not just groovalicious, booty-shakin’ songs, but entire albums filled with the stuff. Half of my best albums’ picks are groove oriented artists, and all ten could have been if I wasn’t wanting to cover a wider array of genres. Just sayin’.
5. Bruno Mars – Perm
They don’t get much funkier than this one. Although clearly an homage bordering on rip-off of James Brown and Prince, that doesn’t take away the fact that this tune won’t allow you to stay in your chair. I think there ought to be a 20-min version of this. Bruno is able to mimic the greats, thankfully he does it well and this is a perfect example.
4. Anderson .Paak – Am I Wrong
I don’t know what my problem is. I resisted listening to this album based on an interview with Anderson on NPR where he was acting a bit aloof and self-involved. But now I’ve listened to the entirety of Malibu, his 2016 release, and it’s friggin’ great. It’s funky, fun, a bit experimental, and a bit revolutionary. It’s so good, I may listen to nothing else for the rest of 2016. “Am I Wrong,” the song I chose here, is impossible to not shake the booty to. Yes, I was wrong for waiting so long.
3. Lake By the Ocean – Maxwell
Going mellow on this one. This also feels like a lost Prince ballad. Maybe Prince’s passing has colored my view to thinking that any new well-written R&B song must have been a Prince original. More straight-up R&B on this one. But in a classic, 70’s vibe.
2. Fantastic Negrito – Hump Through the Winter
Not sure if the title is a suggestion of how to get through the cold and dark of the season, but if not, it’s not a bad plan. This song is swampy, bluesy, and full of grit. I hear elements of Screaming Jay Hawkins, Jack White, and for sure some early Funkadelic. So good.
1. Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man in a White World
This is also on my favorite albums of 2016 list. I chose this song because it is sounds like a lost Marvin Gaye track from the Let’s Get it On sessions. And not just this song. The entire album. But it doesn’t sound like a copy or “trying” to sound like MG. It just is. It came out earlier in the year, but feels more timely than ever right now. I bet I’ll be listening to this one for years to come. Check out the self titled song “Love & Hate” as well. It’s downright astonishing.