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GRiZ Spearheads New Age Funk Revolution

This summer you won’t hear suburban hood-rats bumping Wild Cherry, James Brown, or Rick James in daddy’s Jeep, but don’t fret, funk didn’t die with bell-bottoms and black lights. It’s alive and well.

The prevalence and popularity of EDM (electronic dance music) has initiated a resurgence of funk. New technologies and innovative artists have exponentially diversified electronic music. The coevolution is unprecedented, and it’s rapidly changing our perception and definition of “music.”

Now, EDM has more sub-genres than jelly bellies have flavors, and, like those godforsaken things, most new genres are equally indistinguishable in their mediocrity. It’s gotten to the point that categorizing music solely as EDM is inconsequential. Currently, there’s house, trance, glitch, drum and bass, dubstep, brostep, breakstep, and 100 other steps that no one gives two shits about. If you can name more than ten off-hand, congrats! It’s time to check into rehab.

But I’m not here to tell you about Swedish bubblegum techno, I’m here to tell you about a burgeoning new genre referred to by the hipster masses as “New Age Funk,” or “Future Funk,” and even though you’ve “probably never heard of it,” it makes for some groovy dance music.

Funky white boy Grant Kwiecinski, better known by his stage name GRiZ, spearheads the euphonious revolution. The Michigan native electronically emancipated funk music in 2012 when he released Mad Liberation. The sax-studded album is hip-hop oriented, yet manages to blend funky breaks with ambitious drops, eccentric beats, and obscure vocals. With the contemporary drift towards trap culture, GRiZ’s sound is refreshing to say the least. The entire album is polished, however, the Notorious “Better Than I’ve Ever Been” lives up to its name in the fullest.

On March 31st GRiZ smashed the funk once again with Say it Loud, a nominal homage to James Brown’s 1969 release Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud. The innovative album is more adventurous than its predecessor and features: The Floozies, Manic Focus, Mike Avery, Talib Kweli, Jessie Arlen, Sunsquabi, Orlando Napier, and iDA HAWK.

Whether it’s The Floozies’ funky guitar licks and high energy percussion in “Need This,” or Talib Kweli’s smooth flow in “For The Love,” each feature adds a lil’ somethin’ extra to the GRiZ sound, yet the electronic mastermind never strays too far from his funky niche. Grant kicks off the album with “The Anthem” — a soulful, feel-good track with James Brown vocals and children’s chorus reminiscent of the Jackson 5. “The Anthem” will grab you by the hips and drag you onto the floor; the rest is guaranteed to keep you there till dawn.

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