Read this article because it points you to the African musicians that best borrowed Western Funk & Soul to blend it with their own rich musical traditions. The rest are a fun & funky mix of songs from the 70s & others from the last few years.
And, you’ll hear from some of today’s most worldly Western musicians that are doing the same exchange nowadays (but in the reverse). Watch a couple live videos of powerful performances that highlight the current state of African Funk music…
See Orlando Julius with The Heliocentrics live at Banlieues Bleues festival near Paris. This is some funky African music!
African Funk — Hear where it comes from, where its been, and how it got back…follow this Spotify playlist…Africa’s Funky!
Funky African Music — Irresistible, Polyrhythmic Funk — Africa To America & Back Again
It’s just that few Westerners knew how groovy they got. Much more than an exploration of traditional African music, these playlists are a celebration of the borrowing of musical culture — Africa to America and back again.
African music can be many things. At its best it is percussive, horny, full of gorgeous high-toned shimmering guitars, joyful, deep, has several instruments richly layered on top of each other, can be trance inducing…and of course funky.
Enjoy these tracks — some old, some new, some famous, some obscure. And, feel how funky & soulful Africa can be…
Old School African Funk
Orlando Julius, for example, appears in the third Spotify playlist doing the “Disco High Life.” He was funky in the 70s, and he’s still going strong — sharing tremendous tropical music vibes worldwide!
And, now he’s teamed up with current genre-bending world wise funkateers, the Heliocentrics, which you get to see live in the above video. Be sure to check out the 2014 Orlando Julius/Heliocentrics joint venture, Jaiyede Afro — easily one of the best albums of 2014.
Orlando Julius was quite an influential musician on the 70s Afro-Funk & Afrobeat music scene. You’ll get to hear him welcome The “Godfather of Soul” to Nigeria in our first playlist with “James Brown Ride On.”
The African musicians in the 1970s were hugely influenced by James Brown and American Funk & Soul music. When they all got together for the Foreman/Ali fight in Zaire, and its concurrent music fest in 1974 (click the James Brown link to watch a whole documentary about it), all these great musicians from the US & Africa got to meet and collaborate in Kinshasa. That must have been the greatest music festival of all time!
Current Favorite African Funk Band
Peter Solo, a singer & composer from Togo formed his band, Vaudou Game, in Lyon, France with local musicians, and now spreads the spiritual & musical heritage of his homeland abroad.
What’s interesting about their album, Apiafo, is that they have codified the musical scales found in Voodoo music into a modern African Funk form. They recorded the entire record on vintage analog equipment to give it a powerful, earthy sound.
Vaudou Game picks up in 2016 where their dope debut, Apiafo, left off — with high-energy, funky African music that brilliantly bridges traditional and modern music from Africa. Their 2016 album, Kidayu, is even funkier!
Listen to “Natural Vaudou” in the first Spotify playlist, and the last one has “La Dette” — two smoking hot African Funk tracks for 2016.
This fabulous French Funk band is also clearly influenced by James Brown…as well as Peter Solo’s African Funk forbears.
Heavy rhythms, funky guitar playing, electrifying organ, and horny horns propel Vaudou Game’s Afro-Funk groove. I can’t understand what they say, but the lyrics don’t matter because you feel the voodoo spirits when Peter Solo gets into it with his stirring stage presence, and shows what a phenomenal front man & brilliant band leader he is.
Click here to learn more about them and get it on vinyl. In the meantime, listen to Kidayu on Spotify. Then, read this interview with lead singer, Peter Solo, from AfroPop Worldwide to learn how they make their impressive Voodoo Funk.
Here’s a super funky African rare groove from the 70s,
that isn’t available in Spotify. Dig it…
Let’s Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose
With These Tunes From Funky Funky Africa…
Re-issuing The Best of African Funk Music
Labels like Strut, Soundway, Hot Casa Records, and Analog Africa keep diligently digging up Afro-Funk treasures to share with new audiences outside Africa. And, of course, Afropop Worldwide is always the first place to go to learn all about amazing African music.
A great example of digging deep to get the funkiest music from the African Funk glory days to Western ears is, “Labazo,” by Bony Castro from the superb Ivory Coast Soul 2 compilation. A jazzy horn section, and Soukous style guitar playing carry this exceptional song along. Both this compilation, as well as the new Vaudou Game records, come from the exceptional catalog of Hot Casa Records from France.
Soundway Record’s compilations are amazing! You can’t go wrong with their 1970s Nigerian music series. “Lagos City,” in the third Spotify playlist, is my favorite of the whole lot. It’s a hard funk instrumental masterpiece!
Also be sure to listen to the superb Analog Africa compilations, like Senegal 70 (Sonic Gems From 70s). Listen to “Africa” in the second Spotify playlist because it captures the funky feeling & unbridled emotion of African music.
Orchestre Vévé’s Congolese Funk, Afrobeat & Psychedelic Rumba 1969-1978 compilation on Analog Africa from late 2014 is funky & diverse all the way through. Verckys was a prolific Congolese guitarist, producer & bandleader from the 70s. And, the compilation here will turn you on to an amazing artist with some other gems in Spotify. He gets the third Spotify playlist burning from the beginning with “Bassala Hot.”
Watch the Cameroon King of Funk, Manu Dibango performing his big hit, “Soul Makossa” live…
There’s no shortage of funky music in Africa! Dig you some Funkin’ African music…
Western Musicians Influenced By African Music
For instance, get into Mop Mop, a genre-bending musical project from Italy with African influences. They appear in the second Spotify playlist with marvelous marimba jam, “The Golden Bamboo.”
Also, get an updated Afro-Funk version of “Shaft In Africa” from the brilliant Black Feeling series on Freestyle Records.
Bosq is one of my favorite world-wise music producers. He has a deep knowledge & feel for African music. “Wuk Up” is dance floor ready, and comes from his outstanding 2013 album on Ubiquity Records.
English band, Lakuta, gives us the rousing, Afrobeat inspired, “Bata Boy Instrumental” from their outstanding 2016 debut on TruThoughts, Brothers & Sisters. With members hailing from Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Malaysia, Spain and the UK, Lakuta is a truly global mix of musicians who draw on influences from Jazz, Funk, Soul and world music — you’ll hear all these influences in this sensational song.
Ibibio Sound Machine, an African-British band, creates an idiosyncratic mix of Ghanaian Highlife with disco, analogue synths, and fabulously funky beats. Listen to “The Talking Fish” in the first playlist.
I’m glad today’s technologies help disseminate these joyful grooves around the globe for all to enjoy. This essential music can now keep crossing oceans, affecting musicians of different cultures, and encourage more genre-defying hybrids & musical collaborations — keeping the Afro-Funk going strong from wherever it may sound.
If you ever get a chance to see Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, make sure you go. They’re a funky good time live! And, they play lots of festivals in the US & Europe…