Back in November, Chromeo released their newest single, “Juice.” True to their style, it’s a catchy, tongue-in-cheek electro-funk crowd pleaser packed with syncopated synths and Zapp-style Vocodered vocals. And the very same ’80s funk artists that have inspired the duo throughout their career — Morris Day, Zapp, Cameo, George Clinton, Prince — have also heavily influenced mainstream pop in recent years: Calvin Harris’ hazy, pop-minded funk experiments with Frank Ocean and SZA, Bruno Mars’ 24k Magic (via “Uptown Funk”) and the maximal future funk of Demi Lovato‘s “Sexy Dirty Love.”
But even outside the mainstream — especially outside it, in fact — independent artists have been mining those same influences and twisting them into entirely new shapes, resulting in a wide array of styles and some of the most truly exciting and forward-thinking dance music of the last decade. Here are a few recent favorites:
After much love from the likes of Snoop and Jazzy Jeff, Australia born producer MXXWLL released Beats Vol. 1, a sweeping collection of ’80s-inspired G-funk liberally laced with Dilla-esque beat-tape experiments. “Monday Fonk” in particular has an infectious, off-kilter groove which showcases MXXWLL’s technical prowess and synthesizer skillz.
Jordan Chini, aka BOY DUDE, employed an impressive arsenal of vintage synths, drum machines and other musical ephemera in crafting his debut full-length. Cassette For You, released this past November on Hobo Camp, unveils a unique style of lo-fi production with a classic funk backbone. “Cyber Boogie” is a fuzzy electro-funk dream with a wandering bassline and crafty percussion perfectly designed for small and sweaty dancefloors.
Hailing from California’s San Fernando Valley, SFV Acid recently released 818 Extracts, a short EP that was almost certainly inspired by his Southern California surroundings. It blends G-Funk grooves with his signature namesake 303 acid lines.
Au Dré‘s single “Wonder” offers up the duo’s idiosyncratic take on funk music, seamlessly blending boogie with synth-pop to create catchy melodies and insistent rhythms reminiscent of Lisa Lisa or Janet Jackson. The tune even has a tinge of new jack swing, but it’s the bass and drum programming that makes this track undeniably funky.
To hear these and a bunch of other contemporary funk gems, check out our new Modern Funk playlist. It showcases songs and artists on the cutting edge of funk music, encompassing everything from the inspired experimental beat science of Devonwho, to the high-fidelity soulful funk of Tuxedo, to the homegrown Los Angeles funk of Moniquea and DâM-FunK.