Finding new great, genuine funk isn’t a pursuit for most people. It also isn’t something very easy to find, as the market is proliferated by messy R&B and stellar house, two genres that are influenced by funk but are in no way funk. I, for one, did not know such a thing really existed and I really didn’t think it would be coming from Los Angeles. To my delight, I found Stones Throw Records, a funky local record label headed by DJ/producer Peanut Butter Wolf. The label carries artists like DâM-Funk, Aloe Bacc, Gary Wilson, Madvillain, MED, and the late J Dilla. Recently they’ve released their Rhythm Trax: Rhythm Pack, a 5LP vinyl release that surveys some of the Stones’ funkiest.
The LP set is a collection of LPs from five artists–DâM-Funk, Koushik, Baron Zen, James Pants, and DJ Romes–who all take rhythm into different, funk, borderline house directions. The LPs were released over 2008 and 2009 and were executive produced by Wolf himself, inspired and based off of the Jive Rhythm Trax sets from the 1980s.
James Pants’ “We’re Through” music video. Yeah, it’s not in the collection, but it’s still great.
Each LP greatly differs from the other, taking the idea of the classic funk and molding them into these very contemporary versions of music that could have come out on the Jive series. For example, DâM-Funk’s release infuses funky beats with tons of handclapping and rising synths, all spinning around color concepts while Koushik’s is a meditation on tempo, playing with different drum beats and giving you the BPM rates of songs, which jump from 87 to 117 to ? in just 12 songs. Baron Zen’s entry is spaceier, following in the footsteps of eighties robotic, faux-futuristic sounds and synths, DJ Romes’ entirely untitled (as in, none of the songs have a name) album approaches funk in a darker, traditional, sometimes guitar and drum driven way, and James Pants–who created the artwork for all the albums–carries his LP with classic bass drum charged songs that beat along with hollowed keys layered atop of it. The pack gives a great sampling of what to expect from Stones Throw’s artists and also is an excellent exercise in modern funk.
You can sample a bit of each LP through the Stones Throw store and can purchase the LP set here. If you are afraid of committing to all five (or vinyl), each individual LP is available for MP3 download. And, to promote his contribution, check out this slightly hysterical, undoubtedly great DâM-Funk promotional video for his LP.