Yung Bae’s debut album ends with a track that aptly summarizes future funk’s infatuation with Sailor Moon.

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Yung Bae’s debut album, Bae.

Is it safe to say future funk’s favorite character is Sailor Moon? Lum Invader from Urusei Yatsura could certainly give her a run for her money, but the magical girl, also known as Usagi Tsukino, is a mainstay in the genre. The 2013 release of Macross 82–99’s SAILORWAVE on Fortune 500 can serve as Tsukino’s origin story, with Neoncity Records’ vinyl press, cassette run, and digital re-releases propagating her star-speckled presence ever since.

As a mascot, Sailor Moon is a cute compliment to future funk’s thematic nostalgia. For producer’s who grew up fans of the show, her inclusion is a direct reference to a bygone age of childhood simplicity. More broadly, Sailor Moon popularized the magical girl anime genre and foretold a larger cultural exchange of anime exports fresh off the heels of Japan’s boom in entertainment in the 1980s. …

Duke’s ode to his birth sign took a downtempo interpretation of the 1970’s astrophilia.

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George Duke — Faces in Reflection

Jazz fusion and space go hand in hand. The proliferation of synthesizers throughout the mid-20th Century helped forge the amicable relationship. Outer space warbles and droning wavelengths could be replicated at the push of a button. The cosmos, being largely unexplored, served as a theme around which fusion artists could build their sound, uniting listeners through a shared fascination with the great beyond.

In 1973, George Duke engaged a similar fascination on his third studio album, Faces in Reflection. …

The fifth track off of 2004’s Madvillainy eluded me for years, just as Doom himself outwitted fans for decades.

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Madvillainy — Stones Throw Records

In an effort to plunge a final dagger deep into the spirit of 2020, the family of MC, producer, and man of mystery MF Doom announced on New Years Eve that he passed away on October 31, 2020.

It’s a bittersweet end to the life of Daniel Dumile. One of the greatest artists to grab the mic or grace the boards, I take solace in the fact that the news of Doom’s death came months after it happened. …

A brief history and Review of the Sega 32X, Knuckles’ Chaotix and one of the best Sonic soundtracks of all time.

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The first time you heard about Knuckles’ Chaotix went something like this: You excitedly booted up Sonic Generations and began speeding through the hedgehog’s kaleidoscopic past. At some point, around an hour or two in, you collected enough red star coins to unlock “Door Into Summer,” an infectiously groovy song that to your surprise, sounded unfamiliar.

Straight to YouTube you went, typing in the title only to be met with a twinkling melody and an unfamiliar box art. Knuckles’ Chaotix? Uhhh, what?

“Door Into Summer” — Knuckles’ Chaotix

Ok, maybe you did hear about Knuckles’ Chaotix before that, but maybe you hadn’t played it. Either way, Sonic Generations was at the very least a reintroduction to a title, and more importantly a soundtrack, that was lost to a piece of hardware corroded by the hands of time. …

An interview with Alan Westfall, owner of indie future funk record label Coraspect Records.

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What does future funk look like? The genre usually pays visual respect to the culture that got it off the ground — anime GIFs, nightclub neon and a generally retro 1980s style that plays off an infatuation with nostalgia.

But behind the facade of late 20th century culture are a pastiche of producers, curators and fans from around the world. Some of future funk’s biggest names are teenagers and twenty-somethings who have built their discographies from humble beginnings with software like GarageBand or Abelton.

But Alan Westfall, owner of Coraspect Records, is here to remind you that future funk’s appeal runs deeper than millennials and generation Z. …

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Village Days — A Terrace Martin Project

The 2020 holiday season is getting upstaged. Twinkling light displays and planned gift exchanges feel secondary to the blossoming glimmer of hope that accompanied the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccines. This holiday season is less a celebration and more a sigh of relief that after 200-plus days of quarantining, Animal Crossing excursions and Zoom meetings, normal life — or a new normal — is just around the corner.

As such, typical holiday music doesn’t sound right. There’s no place for strolling through the mall, bopping along to Mariah Carey or Frank Sinatra while shopping, or listening to Michael Buble while you wait to be seated at a restaurant. …

Experimental compositions in video game soundtracks help bring a human tint to otherworldly characters.

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The Sonic Adventure 2 20th Anniversary soundtrack.

When I think of Christmas music, I hear jingle bells, choral arrangements and the unmistakable belt of Mariah Carey. So, when I saw Art Blakey and the Jazz Messenger’s “Moanin’” as one of the Christmas dinner record choices in Spider-Man: Miles Morales I was taken aback.

This isn’t holiday music! It’s a hard bop classic, a song whose call-and-response structure inched towards funk and soul. Bobby Timmons’, Benny Golson’s and Lee Morgan’s solos are neatly packaged by Jymie Merritt’s basslines, but they don’t belong under a tree.

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers “Moanin’”

The Jazz Messengers’ inclusion in Miles Morales, however, is fitting. Beyond the Christmas setting, it’s a game squarely focused on Harlem, one of jazz’s historic stomping grounds. The song slides neatly into a soundtrack that sees the typically grandiose superhero themes remixed to include window-rattling bass as Miles swings between buildings in Manhattan. …

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Smudge All Stars drops on Nov. 27. (Artwork by Kahm)

Thirty-eight years passed between the time George Clinton’s Parliament dropped its ninth and tenth studio albums. The lead artists comprising the group would spend the time in-between producing other work, including narratives on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly (George Clinton), features for Snoop Dogg (Bootsy Collins) and writing for Drake (Walter “Junie” Morrison). But the funk never faded.

Instead, p-funk grew into a reproduction of the African Diaspora, taking cues from swaths of artists that had, at one point or another, found solace in the psychedelic musings of Parliament-Funkadelic.

The self-titled, debut LP from funk collective Smudge All Stars is constructed from a similar mold. Released on Nov. 27 on Pegdoll Records, the 10-track album, arranged by drummer, percussionist and producer Richie Stevens, maintains a parliamentary open door policy, uniting voices from p-funk past and present to foster a welcoming refresh of a classic sound. …

The 1972 Roy Ayers hit foretold the collective ownership of New York City’s most populated borough.

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We Live in Brooklyn Baby released on Polydor Records in 1972.

When The Notorious B.I.G. asked Madison Square Garden, “Where Brooklyn at?” during his freestyle at a Patti LeBelle concert, I doubt he’d accept the answer, “everywhere.”

At the time, Brooklyn was industrial, rugged. Now, 25 years removed from Biggie’s notorious freestyle, Brooklyn is a husk of its former self (which is probably for the best).

Just 90 people were killed in Brooklyn in 2019, a historically low mark that would make Biggie’s ownership of “seven Mac-11s, eight 38s” and “nine 9’s” out of place. Gentrification has morphed the city’s original demographics while subsequently opening doors for it to become one of the most diverse places in the world. …

The pristine loops of future funk do a disservice to fusion band Casiopea and its penchant for jam session experimentation.

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Casiopea’s debut, self-titled album.

Is it safe to say future funk has reached a turning point? Two weeks have passed since copyright strikes shuttered the once thriving Artzie Music YouTube Channel, the preeminent home of the internet-based genre. In that time at least two channels have sprung up in Artzie’s place: a rebooted Artzie Music and the as-of-yet untouched Stoplight Radio.

Currently, the new Artzie channel is just seven songs deep. It has taken a turn from the colorful, copyrighted anime visuals of yesteryear, instead opting for a sound wave visualizer that bops along to the beat. Sonically, the latest Artzie uploads follow suit with typical future funk fodder. Mari-くん’s (Mari Kun) “Good 2 U” re-imagines Heavy D and the Boyz’s “Is it Good To You?” …


Brandon Johnson

Forever hunting for my new favorite music sample. Founder of & 🌴🦩

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