Kool & The Gang: the Get Down

Kool & The Gang is a funk band that didn’t officially debut until 1969, but has been active since 1964. The band was formed in Jersey City, NJ, and consists of members Robert “Kool” and Ronald Bell, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown, and Ricky West. Over the course of nearly 50 years, the group has been awarded with two Grammy awards, seven African American Music Awards, induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and much more.

What is Funk?

Funk music originated and became popular in African American communities in the 1960s. It’s danceable, melodic rhythms and mix of r&b and soul were a moment for Black Americans to freely express themselves.

Wild and Peaceful

Before Kool & The Gang’s transition into disco/pop, Wild and Peaceful was their most successful album. It featured hits like Funky Stuff and Jungle Boogie were both fan favorites, although Funky Stuff was slower and spacier. Although this was their sixth LP, Wild and Peaceful produced their first Top 40 and Top 10 hits.

Funky Stuff

The uniqueness of this hit is that when it was recorded, the Latin band Santanna was also recording one floor above, and as the sound bled through into Kool & the Gang’s session, it created the perfect fusion and a new direction for the sound of funk music. Edited for the summer of 1973, Funk Stuff became a smash hit, reaching #5 on the R&B charts. It’s use of the whistle throughout the song would soon be adapted into many styles of disco music. Elements to pay attention to are the bubbly beat, use of horns, and calls in the background of the song.

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