The year started with the skank tracks really infiltrating the scene. Much to the disgrace of the connoisseurs, but with brought a whole new market of interest. UK Funky was being recognised not only by larger numbers of the public but also major record labels but a divide within the sound was evident within the DJ, Producers, Host/MCs and even the listeners. Whilst producers continued to produce music, frustrations grew due to not being in receipt of the same attention. Before the month was through, the leading DJ of the scene Marcus Nasty had his feelings known regarding the new breed of Funky tracks, but at the same time an electro element was being introduced to the UK Funky scene as well as an accepted Grime influenced sound.
With an eventful start of the year underway, UK Funky had become the talk of the town. The subject had even been covered on Mista Jam’s 1Xtra blog. With Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes due for release following signing to a major record label and the majority believing in potential for chart success, it wasn’t surprising. The divide also becoming more evident, bringing hostility in certain areas, but with major support for the new craze, evolution couldn’t be stopped. Yet still, there were it’s own problems. Interest from major labels had encouraged many to jump on the band wagon, nursery rhymes were being converted into skanks, whilst producers instrumentals were being unofficially used, causing discouragement for some producers to continue making music within the genre. Others however continued, keeping the original UK Funky sound alive and progressing. This allowed the sound in mass to continue to grow.
With a level of acceptance for the MC tracks starting to be shown, a chance of mutual understanding was becoming apparent. A track consisting of and MC or skank which offered relevance to the music or lifestyle to the listeners was welcomed with open arms, bringing back a sense of unity and support for ‘good’ music was being shown. Whilst Migraine Skank and Party Hard were tearing up the dance floors, In the Morning and Make it Funky for Me were also receiving attention from record labels, diffusing the levels of frustration previously shown.
Whilst the scene was making its mark in the mainstream, the commercial representation of the sound seemed a little distorted in various areas. Tracks that weren’t appreciated in the clubs were getting showcased on mainstream radio causing confusion and fear that the UK Funky sound had grown faster than could be regulated. But at the same time, growth continued on the underground bringing many new faces to the movement as well as progress within the level of production. New listeners were also being introduced to the more soulful and deeper house elements of the sound, bringing a birth of new enthusiastic ravers and listeners. The major Grime crossover was now causing a whole new confusion of its own, some releases were now being referred to as ‘Grunky’ such as Boy Better Know – Too Many Man.
Funky had taken the world by storm. The older generations were now getting into it, as well as the youngsters and overseas artists such as Vybez Kartel were now getting involved. Another Jamaican artist Adonia also vocalled the Inflation instrumental produced by Crazy Cousins which is still unclear whether or not was officially done, but many producers still weren’t being requested permission to use their music and the gimmick tracks continued. This left many feeling that the UK Funky scene had become something of which couldn’t be taken seriously from both the outside of the scene and within. But as recording majors continued to swoop, hopes of survival were kept alive.
The Summer party vibes had begun, the MC one-liners really were taking over. From ‘Oi You! Are You Gonna Bang!?’ to “Let Me See You Wiggle It, Wiggle It”, every MC/Host had their own ‘Certified Vibemaker’ to get the crowd going. The clubs were filling up and everyone was having a good time. Crazy Cousins released a double mix compilation and another from Ministry of Sound was on the way, so while the divide had remained, mainly due to the unofficial use of tracks, progress was happening in other areas. Some felt cynical of the intentions of the majors, accusing them of cashing in on the scene and in danger of bleeding it dry.
Whilst the Ministry compilation was released, the partying months went off without a blast. Mostly blamed it on the international swine flu epidemic and the state of economic affairs, but the new music had started to become heavily saturated and politics were at an all time peak. The UK Funky scene was receiving predictions to be finished, killed from within due to excessive energy being used in ways which were neither productive nor progressive. However with some having remained focused, quality music and videos remained in production.
With the scene split across shores and party vibes finally getting into full swing, August saw the birth of more new faces within the movement. Trilla Trilloski, the Midlands superstar, was one that became as recognised as the next. While “Oi You! Are You Gonna Bang?” completely took over, the cheers of “Who Are Ya!?” weren’t too far behind as well as others including “Buy Out The Bar!” which holds much sentiment to many members within the UK Funky scene for many deeper reasons than the music. The older members of the scene were made to stand tall and recognise that the new breed meant serious business. In the meantime excitement grew over the preparations of the first UK Funky concert underway.
With many quality videos being released throughout the year, a new wave of productions went underway. UK Funky Allstars – Take It Higher, Frisco – Eyes on You, KIG feat Wiley – Rollin as well as a buzz around the release of forthcoming videos from Nyah and Donaeo. UK Funky Live, the first event of its kind, boasting all the leading UK Funky acts under one roof at Wembley Arena to bring us a concert and award ceremony was pulled off successfully. There was also the infamous UK Funky Live review which managed to ruffle many feathers within the acts, but also offered a few pointers on where progress could continue to be made. In The Morning was also released, reaching a disappointing chart position of 87.
Many long awaited releases became available this month including Attacca Pesante – Make it Funky for Me, Donaeo – Party Hard which was on a double A-side with Watching Her Move and Gracious K – Migraine Skank. With major label backing it was hoped that the latter would reach a top chart position, but it has to be questioned what happened in the marketing area. Enormous lack of advertising, coupled with lengthy delay on release resulted in a chart position of 54, numbing to accept.
As the eventful year wound down to a close, it was more than obvious that the UK Funky scene had experienced a massive change. Not only had the sound evolved and audience widened, the characters at the forefront of the scene had also changes faces. UK Funky had filtered its way into the mainstream and made its mark within the industry worldwide, with major players and hot spots stretching further than the Greater London borders. The majority of MCs/Artists were now working with producers as opposed to unofficially sampling instrumentals, and although the divide in the music and club scene was still evidently apparent, common ground had been found within the music, enabling the movement to continue without animosity.
The year comes to an end, boasting multiple major as well as independent releases, as well as a catalogue of good quality videos. Many good quality tracks managed to sail by under the radar showing that many artists got the attention due to making the most noise, but many are still yet to provide another helping of music carrying the same weight. This has resulted in many being dependent on one track, or even one line in some cases, to hold their stance within the scene. On the other hand, many artists and producers have claimed an album in the making, but with exciting releases are on the horizon including those from Roska and Katy B. A milestone passed, the only thing that can be readily predicted is another helping of lots of good music. 2009 was the year the MCs dominated the sound, but with perseverance the pioneers of the sound have continued to shine through. Can the new breed match the levels of creativity and innovation already displayed from the pioneers within the movement to maintain their prominence within the scene in 2010?
Filed under: Funky, Music | Tagged: 2009, review, UK Funky | Leave a comment »