Important Follow Story About Bay Area Rapper Saafir & His Health Challenges

Since we ran that story from Shock G about Saafir and his health challenges there has been massive response from all over world. It was one hardly anyone anticipated…Its been much appreciated..Many folks had lots of questions, concerns .. Many had lots of advice and wanted to help..  Below is the first of two stories that are important  follow ups courtesy of  Bay Area scribe Garrett Caples of the SF Bay Guardian. He reached out and did two stories.. One is called  ‘Injured Player in the Game’ the other is called Reality Rap which is an exclusive Q&A which you can access here…http://www.sfbg.com/noise/2013/03/27/reality-rap-qa-saafir-saucee-nomad.. Big salute to Garret for rocking this..-Davey D-

Injured Player in the Game

Saafir Photo: Garret Caples

Saafir  Photo: Garret Caples

MUSIC “I have a new respect for people with disabilities,” Bay Area legend Saafir, the Saucee Nomad says, sitting in his wheelchair in the East Oakland living room where he’s temporarily crashing. “I was aware of their plight, but I never imagined how much strength it took mentally to deal with every day, day to day. It’s a cold strength.”

The extent of Saafir’s disability, revealed last month by Digital Underground leader Shock-G on Davey-D’s Hip Hop Corner blog, took the rap world by surprise. I’d heard Saafir was in rough shape, following a 2005 operation to remove a cancerous tumor from his spine, though the release of his unexpectedly religious album Good Game (ABB, ’06) seemed to signify a recovery. Yet a numbness that began in his toes in ’08 gradually crept up his legs to where he can no longer walk or even stand. His inability to work coupled with his medical expenses has wiped him out financially.

Tweeted by Questlove to his two million Twitter followers, Shock’s account went mini-viral over social media and hip-hop blogs. Wanting to interview Saafir, I called Shock, who gave his number but warned, “He’s a little heated ’cause I didn’t clear that story with him and I got some details wrong. But he wouldna let me post it. He’s a soldier.” And it takes some convincing before Saafir grudgingly agrees to an interview, though by the time we meet, his anger at the unwanted attention has largely dissipated into relief and acceptance. He’s allowed Chris Clay, a protégé of Shock’s who’s also a web designer, to set up a site, www.tostandagain.org, where fans can make Paypal donations. He’s even plugged the site in a phone interview on Sway and King Tech’s Wake Up Show (Shady 45 radio).

That the Wake Up Show was the first national music media to reach out to Saafir is unsurprising; the epic battle between Saafir of Hobo Junction and Casual of Hieroglyphics that the show hosted in 1994 when it was on KMEL was arguably step one in a series that leads to Sway interviewing Obama. A high-water mark of Bay Area rap history, Hobo v. Hiero occurred the same year Saafir released his debut, Boxcar Sessions, on Quincy Jones’s Warner imprint, Qwest. Saafir scored the $250,000 deal on the strength of his performances on Digital Underground’s Body-Hat Syndrome (TommyBoy, 1993) and in the film Menace II Society (1993), but even those didn’t quite prepare the world for his surrealistic syntax stretching on Boxcar or the tripped out beats of Hobo producers JZ and J.Groove.

While it became an enduring underground classic, Boxcar dropped at a time when the golden age was giving way to the bland consumer-speak that still dominates rap. After another album, The Hit List (1999), Saafir left Warner only to sign with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath as a member of Golden State Warriors, a supergroup with Xzibit and Ras Kass. But the project ultimately didn’t yield an album.

“We didn’t get held up by Aftermath; we had internal issues,” Saafir says. “We did a lot of high-profile records but we could never push past that level.” Following the group’s demise and his cancer operation, Saafir had just relaunched as an independent artist when he began to experience the first symptoms leading to his present condition.

The whole persona of a rapper is about being extraordinary, but in many ways Saafir’s current situation is typically American, Obamacare notwithstanding. Like any rapper who signs to a major in his 20s, he bought “some dumb shit” with his Warner money and has regrets, but he always set aside money from his deals; he has kids he’s putting through high school, among other expenses. But even with some insurance, he’s lost everything, and it’s impossible for him to make money the way a rapper does— always hopping flights to the next show — when it takes him two hours to get dressed.

After last year’s failed quest for laser surgery, described in Shock’s post, Saafir’s again working with his original doctor to determine the cause of his loss of leg function. If it can be restored, he estimates he’s looking at over $80,000 of uncovered expenses for surgery and rehab. If it can’t, he needs to get himself into an accessible assisted living situation, because couchsurfing in his condition is untenable.

But wheelchair or no, Saafir plans to continue rap.

“I’m a boss but I’m an injured player in the game,” he says. “I’m a very strong injured player in the game and I can still make plays from my position.”

Below is a link to an exclusive Q&A with Saafir via Garret Caples of the SF Bay Guardian…

http://www.sfbg.com/noise/2013/03/27/reality-rap-qa-saafir-saucee-nomad

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Shock G of Digital Underground Explains Why Saafir is Bound to a Wheelchair

shock G pointLast year, a close friend asked me “Why is Saafir in a wheelchair?” and with a sigh, all I could muster was “It’s complicated” because it really is. Months later, he asked me a 3rd time, so I shot him this email below:

Saafir’s sitch is the gradual result of a series of events..

Here’s a ruff timeline:

1992:

Survived TWA plane crash at JFK scheduled for Frisco. Engine blew during take-off, skidded-out sidewayz off the runway, came to a stop, and after a few seconds, burst into flames:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TWA_Flight_843

Saafir was the first one off, but he jumped before the slide fully inflated and wound up jolting his lower back as his feet hit the ground beneath the thin material. It was a Boeing DC-10, so it was hella high-up (..like jumping from a 3rd floor apt balcony).

Afterwards he refused hospital assistance (“I’m aight”) ..in a hurry ta catch the next plane back to the bay.

Saafir

Saafir

1994:

At a d.u. photo shoot in Jack London Square (oakland) for Rappages mag, showing-out for the writer & photographer, he jumped onto the metal steps of a moving train that was goin faster than he anticipated. So when he jumped back off 2 blocks further, he hit the street with a snap, causing him to run violently faster than humanly possible for the first few steps to keep from scrubbing on camera, ha. He pulled it off, but it looked craaazy, and for the rest of that day he kept holdin his lower back and whispering “Damn, I think I fucked my back off again blood”.

1994 thru 1999:

He popped hella ecstasy without drinking the required water to protect the spine from dehydration.

2000:

While on Up in Smoke Tour w/Xzibit, horseplayin around backstage he hurt it again while kickboxin wit da homies. He could barely stand up from the pain. So Nzazi Muhammed (Digital Underground’s fitness & witch doctor) came & met him backstage, gave’m acupuncture & some massage therapy which immediately got him movin around again. This became one of Saafir’s classic stories, how Z made him lay on the concrete and had him screamin in pain right in front of Dr.Dre, Ras Kass and everyone while he worked on him, and how he jumped up afterwards in disbelief, and with a huge teary-eyed smile told Z, “Damn blood, u really fixed my back!! For the first time in 5-years the pain is gone!! Wow man, thanku man, thanku!!!”

2000 to 06: 

saafir lookDoes two more Up in Smoke tours w/Xibit.

Back pain gradually returns & increases over the years, resulting in several doc visits & consultations.

 2007:

His first spinal operation for “cartilage deterioration” and “nerve damage” on a few specific vertebrae. Afterwards, against doctors’ advice to “take it easy and stay off your feet while you heal”, he continued to do shows & hustle in the street.

07 thru 09:

Music biz real slow, so to pay his rent he starts grindin his prescription back-pain meds (oxys & roxys, high $treet demand) while he breathes thru the pain “like a soldier”.

Meanwhile, in addition to back pain, his right leg gradually begins to go numb from the toes upward, until he has to walk (and perform) with a cane:

http://www.g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/692513/freestyle-101-saafir/

Early 2011:

Numbness reaches his knee on right leg, left leg first signs of numbness in the foot. After several doc visits & diagnosis’s, still no solid explanation or solution. “Scar tissue around his lower spine is swelling and pressing against the nerves that control the legs” is the general assessment.

Late 2011:

shocksaafir1Can’t walk at all on his own anymore, begins using a wheelchair. Loses his own place, and hasta move in with an ex-gf who he doesn’t get along with but was the only place he could go. They barely get along, the scene is usually tense. Meanwhile, his X & molly abuse continues, and without ever drinking water (their nightly ritual is to x-out before they fuck and crash-out). He continues to ride-out the pain (“Blood, I’ma soldier”) while flippin his pain meds for cash.

Also worth a mention, and since ever, Saafir is a sugar junkie (skittles & soda), only eats junk food, and has been chaining Newports since the early 90s. He recently told me he hasn’t eaten a vegetable in over 10 years, and most of his meals come from either the Arco Mini-market, 7-Eleven, or the Wendy’s nearby their deep-east oakland apartment.

Feb 2012:

He reveals to Money-B his sitch, which spreads thru the crew & shocks all of us. None of us had any idea, and we’re all hurt & pissed that he waited this long before he told anybody.

March 2012:

I go visit him, our first in-person meeting in over 10-years. His apartment is small, dark, cluttered & filthy. Cig butts fill every ashtray, empty soda bottles & fast-food cups everywhere. When our eyes met, it took all my strength to push down the urge to cry, and we met w/big smiles & hugs. But later when I was alone, I had ta pull the car over and dump tears for 10-minutes straight.

By now paralyzation had reached his hips, no feeling in either leg, can’t wiggle a toe or flex any leg muscles. It took us 2-hours to dress him and get him into the car, and then another 2 to get him situated in bed after our food & pharmacist run.

After the visit, I jump onboard full throttle in search of anyone who can help, any medical solution..

April 2012:

shock & Saafir

shock & Saafir

We zero in on the Laser Spine Institution in Scottsdale Arizona who propose a procedure with a 90% success rate. After reviewing his med records, requesting several new MRIs, and a slew of financial form clearances, they accept his case. We negotiate the appointment for late May, and began the surgery-prep processes at home.

May 26, 2012

I fly out with him as caretaker.

On day 2 of the 7-day process, after many tests, they apologetically announce they can’t help his situation. “Our type of procedure can’t treat his type of injury” was their only explanation, “We’re extremely sorry you traveled this far..” and they reimbursed us 15k of the 20 we spent to make it happen.

June 2, 2012

Saafir returned to his gloomy home situation in oakland devastated, exhausted & defeated. All of our hope was in that trip to AZ.

2012 to present:

Still searching for a doctor or a procedure that can help.

Still living off skittles, soda, chips and 7-Eleven burritos.

Still chain-smokin Newports

Still got them roxys fo’ya!

The History of Hip Hop And Funk.. Bay Area Style

james_brown_funky_president-2066520-1294602262When all is finally said and done , there will be quite a few things that folks will be able to say about hip hop music. First it was born out of the African-American community and in many ways has managed to serve the role of the modern-day griot. It has managed to be a reflection and statement of who we are and what we were about and like the West African griot who was charged with passing along the village history, customs and mores through songs and narratives [African Oral Tradition], hip hop has also managed to link generations and keep some of customs and mores alive..especially on the music tip.

Folks may recall how rappers brought artists like James Brown and Donald Byrd back into the forefront of Black music during the mid 80s when their music was freely sampled in every which way, shape and form by literally hordes of artists. Back then folks may recall the commonly expressed sentiment that many ascribed too..”

if it wasn’t for the rap artists James Brown would be unknown to the younger generation

“And to a large degree there was a lot of truth in that statement, after all, at that time Black radio wasn’t aggressively promoting a format in which they would highlight “classic” artists like Brown while maintaining their appeal to younger listeners… The result was many young white listeners being able tell you all about pop icons like the Beatles and Elvis while artists like Brown were relatively unknown to the young Black listener, at least until hip hop came along. It”s important to note all this because another facet about hip hop is that it allowed folks and still allows folks to build upon their musical past…

James Brown

James Brown

The Brown sampling phenomenon in the mid-late 80s was the result of younger people reflecting their musical past. Most of the artist putting out records at this time were from New York and James Brown was not only an artist that mom and dad grooved to, but it was an artist that their older brothers and sisters grooved to in the late 70s when block parties were common place and hip hop was still in its embryo stages… The break beats that could be found within the grooves of James Brown records were the sounds that really set off these early hip hop jams.

So what does all this have to do with p-funk and its relationship to hip hop? Well one of the great things about hip hop is that it has always been an easily accessible form of expression with each participant being able to bring into the fold their own experiences and musical background So while brothers back east during the late 80s were building off their musical experiences involving James Brown and hip hop culture dating back to the late 70s, brothers out west who were just starting to release hip hop records were bringing a whole other set of musical experiences to the table. Much of it centered around artists like George Clinton, Bootsy Collins George Duke and Roger & Zapp to name a few. Simply put, brothers out west brought p-funk to the hip hop round table.

Now upon reading this there are a lot of folks who are immediately gonna reach back into time and point to the p-funk style hip hop music of EPMD, especially since they dropped the ’88 classic tune “You Gots To Chill” which looped the now infamous “More Bounce To The Ounce” by Zapp and Kool and the Gang‘s Jungle Boogie.. Many rap fans consider this jam to be the first record to incorporate a p-funk sample.

In addition, these same rap fans may be quick to point out that cuts like “Knee Deep” and “More Bounce To The Ounce” were staple items in a b-boy’s record crates. Back in the days, many a dj cut up these tracks while an emcee flowed. And while it’s safe to say that Erik & Parrish earned their spot in the history books with “You Gots To Chill“, they weren’t the first to use music from the p-funk treasure chests… In addition, EPMD’s usage didn’t reflect the special relation and love the San Francisco / Oakland Bay Area had for funk.

Ricky Vincent better known as the Uhuru Maggot is a Bay Area music historian who earned his stripes during the 80s for his radio work on KALX, UC Berkeley’s college station… and can now be heard every Friday on KPFA 94.1 FM… Vincent has not only chronicled funk music through his History Of Funk radio shows, but he has written his doctorate thesis on the genre..and has now just penned a book for St Martin’s Press with an intro from George Clinton himself.

This work will undoubtedly be a definitive and comprehensive work on this facet of Black music… In a recent interview where Vincent was asked about the Bay Area’s love for funk and its relationship to hip hop, he broke things down and explained that there has always been a deep seeded love affair with -funk ..He noted that George Clinton has always claimed there was something ‘heavy’ about the Bay Area funkateers.. Vincent noted that so involved was that relationship that Clinton recorded part of his live album “P-Funk Earth Tour” right here at the Oakland Coliseum.

This [The Bay Area] was probably the only place that he could capture that strong P-funk vibe

Dr Dre

Dr Dre

If that wasn’t enough, Oakland was city where the mothership first landed. This took place in 1976. For those who don’t know the mothership was brought back into the forefront when Dr Dre landed it in his video ‘Let Me Ride‘. Vincent elaborated by noting that the landing of the mothership was a major turning point. It could be interpreted as the second coming of Christ. And furthermore, Vincent explained that there are many facets of the funk as prescribed by George Clinton that are based upon ancient African religion. It encouraged folks to move in a spiritual direction. In fact many of the songs Clinton performed were nothing more than modern-day spirituals that were ripe with metaphors that held religious connotations. For example the song ‘Flashlight‘ was really a gospel song which called upon the Lord to shine some light on the ‘funk’ [hard times] that Black people here in America were experiencing.

Al Eaton

Al Eaton

The Bay Area’s Al Eaton, a veteran producer established himself by being Too Short‘s early producer. In addition Al had a hand in the production end back in the days for such well-known Bay Area acts like Dangerous Dame, Rappin’ 4 Tay and E-40 & The Click who were than just starting out their careers. Eaton expounded upon Vincent”s assessment by noting that while p-funk had a strong hold in the Bay Area it wasn’t the only funk kicking’ up dirt. “It wasn’t just p-funk, but it was the whole musician scene that put the Bay Area on the map, ” Eaton noted. Groups like Tower Of Power, Cold Blood, Maze going all the way back to Sly Stone in the late 60s all had big names and helped shape the Bay Area music scene.

“There”s always been a funk thing going on in the Bay Area-It’s always been funk base central. There’s always been lots of musicians on the crest, who didn”t make it to the big time but yet had names around town.” , Eaton pointed out. Funk bands like Johnny Talbert and the Thangs, 2 Things In One and Marvin Holmes and The Uptights were some of the funk bands that immediately came to mind.

Eaton pointed to several factors that may influenced the Bay Area to embrace the funk. First off, many of the musicians who played for these bands back in the late 60s now have kids who are now into hip hop. He also made it known that when he was coming up there was at least 2-3 bands on every block. “Each one was trying to get to the next level and hence it made for a very competitive situation.”, he noted

Rappin' 4Tay

Rappin’ 4Tay

Eaton’s last reason for the Bay Area’s embrace of funk focused on a famous movie entitled The Mack. “It seems like all the Bay Area rappers at one point or another were influenced by The Mack. ” , Eaton said. The movie depicted lots of characters real life players and pimps who many Bay Area artist have directly or indirectly tried to emulate try to emulate. Eaton went on to add that phrases like ‘Player’s Club‘ and ‘Pimp Of The Year‘ which were borrowed by SF rapper Rappin’ 4 Tay and Oakland artist Dru Down reflected the raw gritty attitude street vibe often associated with funk. “Funk is here because it’s always been here”, Eaton concluded, “And there’s been a lot of musicians laying down the groundwork for years”.

Eaton made mention of Sly Stone and spoke about how important he was in developing the funk scene here in the Bay Area… Vincent took it a step further by noting that artists like George Clinton were influenced by Stone who once upon a time ruled the city of Vallejo back in the late 60s-home of funky Bay Area artists like E-40, Potna Deuce, Khayree, Young Lay, Mac Dre and Mac Mall to name a few..Vincent gave Sly props for being the first musician to come out and dress in freaked out ostentatious outfits. This of course was later picked up and mimicked by Clinton and his p-funk mob..”Sly managed to package all the energy of James Brown while embracing the hippie vibe which was pervasive because of the summer of love among other things taking place about that time”.

When speaking on the subject of funk and hip hop Bay Area style, no discussion would be complete without talking about the work of Shock G lead rapper and producer for Digital Underground. In late 1987 several months before EPMD hit with their track “You Got’s To Chill” Digital Underground made a lot of noise with a hard hittin’ song entitled ‘Underwater Rimes‘. Here Shock incorporated sampled riffs from the Parliament classic ‘Aquaboogie’ and cleverly weaved all sorts of p-funk like characters and elements into the song, including MC Blowfish. For the most folks it was hard to believe Clinton himself didn’t have a hand in the production. Eventually Clinton did come aboard and lend a helpin hand in Digital’s second lp ‘Sons Of The P’. It was on this lp that Shock felt DU was a head of its time because of their liberal use of the moog synthesizer.. Nowadays artists like Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube have been on hit with songs that utilize this device to provide that buzzin’ bassline…

ShockG-posterShock G pointed that funk was heavy all around the country except New York where he spent a lot of time growing up. He went on to explain that there were two things going on in New York City..”First of all, disco had taken off in a big way and hip hop was starting to become big among the younger people. The result of this activity was that New York missed out on the P-funk”.

Shock explained that he made a deliberate attempt to bridge the gap between hip hop and p-funk. He noted that while a lot of his buddies in New York were true to the game with respect to hip hop however, they constantly fronted on George Clinton. Shock’s exposure to funk came when he moved down to Florida to stay with his dad. Folks in his house and school were fanatical about p-funk. He began fusing hip hop with George’s music out of necessity. “We would try and play some NY based underground break beats like ‘Love Is The Message‘ or ‘Dance To The Drummer’s Beat‘ and it they would scare folks off the dance floor.” He eventually won them over when he started cutting up p-funk songs…

As Shock became engrossed with p-funk he found himself heading out west to the Bay Area because he had heard the vibe for p-funk was not only strong but supportive of the style of music he was trying to create. “One of the reasons I decided to move I to Oakland was because Oakland was putting p-funk on way back…and the vibe was strong..plus it was the only place in the country where they had a radio show dedicated to the funk”. Shock of course was referring to the Uhuru Maggot’sHistory Of Funk Show‘.. Eventually Digital’s first singles were dropped on the Uhuru Maggots Show. The first hip hop based show in which Shock dropped DU material was mine on the same station… KALX.

An interesting aspect that Shock brought to light was the fact that he felt that George Clinton was heavy on the Black side with both his concepts and lyrics… “George’s music was unselfish and promoted brotherhood… It reminded people of Black festivities and celebrations”. Shock also noted that George was very conscious and all about the upliftment of Black people. Originally Digital started off the same way.. In fact their original name was Spice Regime and they were attempting to experiment and become the Black Panthers of hip hop complete with barets and all that. Two things happened that forced DU to switch..One was the emergence of Public Enemy and their baret wearing S1Ws. The second was the overwhelming popularity of Humpty Dance and the character ‘Humpty Hump‘ which force the group to momentarily move away from the conceptual p-funk style vibe that eventually emerged on their second lp ‘Sons Of The P’.

Another longtime player in the Bay Area p-funk hip hop scene is actually Flava Flav‘s cousin, the SupergroovalisticalfunkuponablackC-Funk. OGs of the Bay Area hip hop scene will recall that C-Funk an East Palo Alto native started out with the name Captain Crunch, but a certain cereal company came forth with some court orders forcing him to change. However, C-Funk along with his partner Mozilla the Funk Dragon have definitely made some noise around town.

In 1989 under the group name Rated X, they released a funky track entitled ‘Law Of Groovity‘. Two years later under the name Funk Lab Allstars, C-Funk came with it a p-funk style lp entitled ‘Music From A Motion Picture Rap Funk Track‘ Included on that was a slamming track entitled ‘La Da Da‘. His big hits came in ’92 with the release of the lp ‘Two Stoags’ in which C-Funk did as so many other Bay Area hip hop producers have started to do..abandon sampling and start playing the music.

C-Funk spoke candidly about the funk, “Funk is not a fad..I’ve been with the funk before rap kicked in ..I’ve been with the funk when it died down, I’ve been with when its in hip hop and when people decide to go away, I’ll still be with the funk”. C-Funk pointed out that he feels there are a lot of players who ain’t true to the game when it comes to funk. He noted then when its time to go the next step, musically, a whole lots of folks are not gonna bring the funk with them. “I won”t abuse the funk like brothers did James Brown..When its time to go to the step, I’ll go but with the funk”, he asserted.

Like so many other Bay Area folks C-Funk noted that his history for the music goes back to when he was 8 years old and his Uncle Chief who was a die hard funkateer would take him to Parliament concerts. For C-funk its more than just a music but a lifestyle that’ll keep on evolving. C-Funk’s most recent lp was released on the independent label Scarface records which was owned by Paris. Entitled “3 Dimensional Ear Pleasure”, the underlying message to this lp was to ‘Tune In now because you won’t know funk until you C-funk’… He also collborated with Shock G on a few projects…

Paris the Black Panther of hip hop, CEO of Scarface Records and producers for the hit group Conscious Daughters , is himself no stranger to the funk. On his last album… ‘Gorilla Funk‘ is just that a reworking of the Funkadelic classic ‘Knee Deep‘ and a derivation of George Duke‘s ‘Dukey Stick‘. Paris assessed the Bay Area”s music scene this way, “Funk for the most part has always been a west coast thing..

In other parts of the country people have been more in tuned with other types of music..jazz and dance hall seem more prominent back east, but here in the Bay Area it’s all about the funk”. Paris went on to explain from a producer’s stand point that funk has found an increased resurgence in popularity due to the fact that many folks are into hearing jams that have fuller and more complete production.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-hYc_Lf_j0

Funk music allows one to dig deep and present a high gloss more complex type of sound. Back east the high gloss end of production is personified by the works of artist like US3 or Justice System while here its all the funk players. ‘Gorilla Funk’ certainly stood out on the high gloss end. Here Paris went out of his way to hire studio singers for the harmonies and session players for some of the instruments. Paris explained that for a while people moved out of the era of song writing and into the era of track making.. When trying to recreate funk via live instruments one learns to pay close attention to the song and consequently incorporate those elements of music that you really love.

Khayree

Khayree

Khayree, producer of two of the Bay Area”s hottest artists Young Lay, Mac Mall and Ray Luv has been in the game dating back to the time when there was a female group called New Choice who dropped a record back in the mid 80s called ‘Cold Stupid‘. Khayree of course produced them.. He summed up the funk situation this way, “My involvement with music goes beyond George Clinton, I grew up on the musicians that taught George, like Sly Stone, Donny Hathaway and Jimi Hendrix“.

Khayree went on to say that he tries not follow trends and hence if his music sounds like something that could classified as funk, it’s not because he attempted to be a part of the band wagon, but because he did things from the heart. Khayree like everyone mentioned in this article is an accomplished musician who has long learned the value from not sampling. When you play you can come from the heart” he noted. In addition he doesn”t have to pay for use of samples. The funk elements found in songs like Ray Luv’s ‘Get My Money On’ and ‘Mac Mall’s ‘Sick With This’ Perhaps the most important feature about funk was that much of the music when initially introduced appealed to folks in the hood. This was crucial because funk landed at a time when so much of Black music was either being diluted or in some cases avoided altogether by Black music radio stations.

Afrika Bambaataa

Afrika Bambaataa

Afrika Bambaataa once noted that hip hop was the result of Black music radio not keeping funk alive in New York City… Author Nelson George confirmed that statement in his book the ‘Death Of Rhythm & Blues‘ in which he spoke about Black radio stations diluting the music from the hood with some other stuff that was ultimately designed to appeal to a downtown, hipper, more affluent, [whiter audience] and not the young black and Puerto Rican audience that listened to a radio more than any other ethnic group.

By the mid 70s Black music radio in New York wasn’t kicking a lot of music across the airwaves that was hitting on point in other parts of the country.. In the late 70s I recall a whole lot of disco songs being played… Brothers from around the way were doing block parties and playing old James Brown, Sly Stone and break beats…while outside New York in places as close as New Haven Connecticut, brothers were jamming to groups like Fat Larry’s Band, The Barkays and Mass Production

For example, I recall hearing jams like ‘Fire Cracker‘ by Mass Production outside the Big Apple, but never really hearing too much if at all within the city’s five boroughs… Mean while in places like the Bay Area where hip hop had not really surfaced the grooves put out by these types of groups were the ‘ phat buttahs ‘ of the day.

Khayree, Al Eaton, Paris, Shock G and C-Funk are just a few of a long line of artist/producers who have helped keep the funk a strong force in the Bay Area and begin to influence the rest of the hip hop nation. There are still lots of others in these here parts that are making lots of noise with their new brand of funk including E-40 and The Click“s producer Studio Tone, Oakland rap duo/producers, Easki and CMT, En Vogue producers Foster & McElroy, George Clinton collaborator and long time funkateer Dave Kaos and SF rap start JT The Bigga Figga. All have come to the hip hop roundtable with funk in their back pocket.

Funk is a Bay Area tradition, loved and embraced amongst a population which is only one or two generations removed from their southern roots. The Bay Area is also a music market place that has long encouraged folks to let themselves go and explore… It has encouraged folks to buck the trends and follow their own musical path. It is no coincidence that the first funk hip hop records have come from the Bay Area.

Props out to DJ Slice and Kool Rock J for sampling” Knee Deep in their 1986/87 classic “Slice It Up“.

Props to Hammer for incorporating the p-funk in his original version of his 1987 hit “They Put Me In The Mix“.

Props to Digital Underground for bringing the funk fully back on the scene with “Underwater Rimes“.

Also props to Dave Kaos cause back in the days.. he did a little cutting and scratchin on some of George Clinton”s records. Props to the die-hard funkateers of the Bay Area like Rickey ‘The Uhuru Maggot Vincent for documenting the funk and keeping the spirit alive . Keep in mind , while there are lots of acts that use funk in their music, in the Bay Area folks live and breath p-funk… from now until the end of time.

written by Davey D c 1996Go Back To Davey D Corner Home Page