meta-scriptCan You Fill Me In: 20 Years Of Craig David's 'Born To Do It' |
Craig David on the set of his "Fill Me In" music video in 2000

Craig David on the set of his "Fill Me In" music video in 2000

Photo: Naki/Redferns


Can You Fill Me In: 20 Years Of Craig David's 'Born To Do It'

Released two decades ago this month in his native U.K., Craig David's breakout debut album marked the definitive moment when U.K. garage went supernova and transformed the singer from a supporting player into a GRAMMY-nominated R&B star

GRAMMYs/Aug 27, 2020 - 06:46 pm

In March 2001, 19-year-old Craig David was on top of the world. The singer-songwriter's debut full-length, Born To Do It, entered the U.K. albums chart at No. 1 on the week of its August 2000 release. By the new year, he had arena shows booked across the U.K. At the beginning of the month, David played for a sold-out crowd at London's prestigious Wembley Stadium, while camera crews shot footage for a future concert film. As coming-out parties go, it was the stuff of dreams. 

On the road that spring, David spoke to the Los Angeles Times about his hopes of cracking America. (He also discussed the careful upkeep of his already-famous beard, seen on the cover of Born To Do It: "It takes about 30 minutes to perfect the symmetry.") While confident in his talents, David knew U.S. success was no sure thing: "I'm at square one." 

What he could offer new ears, though, was the distinctly British sound of U.K. garage. The genre, which evolved out of the U.S. garage scene led by DJ-producers like Todd Edwards and Mood II Swing, is also referred to as 2-step garage or simply 2-step. (Genre sticklers might quibble, but the terms are often used interchangeably to describe the same sound.) At the time, David gave the Los Angeles Times a neat explainer on the genre that launched him. "It's a hybrid of R&B; and house-garage where you take the bass drum off the second and fourth beats of the bar," he said. "That gives a unique skipping feel." 

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After bubbling up in grimy London clubs via DJs like MJ Cole and DJ EZ, the genre went mainstream in the Y2K era. In May 1999, Shanks & Bigfoot's unassuming U.K. garage tune, "Sweet Like Chocolate," hit No. 1 on the U.K. singles chart. That November, U.K. garage duo Artful Dodger released "Re-Rewind (The Crowd Say Bo Selecta)," featuring a then-little-known Craig David on vocals. The single fused all the hallmarks of garage—complete with a twitchy beat, breaking glass sound effects and a DJ "backspin"—with the crossover appeal of David's honeyed vocals. "Re-Rewind" reached No. 2 on the charts, officially marking the arrival of the genre's new star.

For David, Born To Do It was the natural next step after the breakout success of "Re-Rewind," but he had no intention of making a pure U.K. garage record. The album, released 20 years ago this month, captures an artist as steeped in U.S. R&B and pop as the "unique skipping feel" taking over U.K. dance floors. Born To Do It also marked the definitive moment when U.K. garage went supernova, a double impact that saw the underground British genre and its bright young ambassador gain enough mass appeal to crack the U.S. 

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David met Mark Hill and Pete Devereux, aka Artful Dodger, in their shared hometown of Southampton on England's south coast. After watching the teenager DJ at a local club, the duo invited David to their modest studio the next day. David performed on three tracks on Artful Dodger's debut album, It's All About The Stragglers (2000), including "Re-Rewind." The guest-heavy LP, which also featured British vocalists Michelle Escoffery, Romina Johnson and Lifford, applied pop sheen to a U.K. garage template. (With only a few of its tracks available on streaming services, It's All About The Stragglers is now something of a rare gem.)

Mark Hill recognized that David's ambitions went beyond guest spots. "We couldn't afford to pay him for the vocals [on Stragglers] so we just offered him studio time as well and I could help to produce his stuff … " Hill recalled in an interview with Soul Culture. Born To Do It evolved organically from that laidback arrangement. Without any outside input or label pressure, Hill and David finished the album before "Re-Rewind" blew up in the clubs. After that boost, the pair went back to record one more track that could "bridge the gap," as Hill put it to Soul Culture, between the Artful Dodger sound and the Craig David solo project. That late addition to the track list was called "Fill Me In." 

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Released ahead of the album in April 2000, "Fill Me In" debuted at No. 1 on the U.K. singles chart. Sonically, its stuttering drums and lush string samples would've been at home on It's All About The Stragglers. However, its songwriting highlighted David's specific touch, with lyrics that shift perspective from the teenagers creeping around to the watchful parents. Buoyed by the success of "Fill Me In" and its follow-up single, "7 Days," released that July, Born To Do It was a lock to top the U.K. albums chart. 

With Wembley conquered, David set his sights more keenly on the U.S. Atlantic Records released Born To Do It stateside in 2001, peaking at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 chart. The singer toured North America with an eight-piece band in early 2002, then closed his trip that February at the GRAMMYs, where "Fill Me In" was nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. While David didn't win, he shared the category with his boyhood hero, Michael Jackson who was nominated that year for "You Rock My World." It was another pinch-yourself moment for the striver from Southampton. "It's all been very surreal," David told Billboard in 2001. "When I do interviews, I sometimes talk in the third person, like I'm watching this other artist grow." 

After the ice-breaker of "Fill Me In," Born To Do It soon strays from the U.K. garage mold. In addition to Michael Jackson, David grew up listening to his mom's favorites like Terence Trent D'Arby, Stevie Wonder and The Osmonds. Later, he discovered the new school of '90s R&B from across the Atlantic. By 19, he was hyperliterate about the music that shaped him. In his concert film, Off The Hook...Live At Wembley (2001), David excitedly recounts the story of an out-of-the-blue call from rap mogul Sean Combs, known then as Puff Daddy. "This guy is a pioneer in taking old samples and bringing them into contemporary music, from [The Notorious] B.I.G. to 112 to Faith Evans," he marvels to the camera. "And this guy is on the phone telling me he likes 'Fill Me In.'" 

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That easy familiarity with the history of U.S. R&B and pop runs throughout Born To Do It. On "Rendezvous" and "Last Night," David strikes a silky loverman tone that recalls the likes of Usher and Ginuwine. Warm Spanish guitar carries "7 Days," which earned David his second GRAMMY nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2003. Its catchy, humble-bragging chorus ("I met this girl on Monday / Took her for a drink on Tuesday") later went on to launch a million memes. "Time To Party" is a peppy, innocent celebration of Friday nights at the club, while "Follow Me" slows things right down in a D'Angelo-like bedroom jam. Then there's "Bootyman," which somehow riffs on the nursery rhyme "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" and "The Candy Man" song from Willy Wonka, while also spelling out the URL "" in full.

For all of David's smoothness, Born To Do It is more suggestive than explicit, painting David as the R&B casanova you could bring home to mom. Just as "Fill Me In" considered the parents' perspective, "Can't Be Messin' Around" is about staying faithful to a girlfriend despite the come-ons of an interloper "wanting me to hold her oh so tightly." Late album highlight "You Know What" then balances the libido and lovestruck yearning as David croons about the one that got away.  

David released his second album, Slicker Than Your Average, in November 2002. Unlike the boyish ease of Born To Do It, the follow-up opens with a score-settling title track. "Ever since I first stepped up / They thought I wasn't good enough," David sings. The song lists dings made against the singer—he's too "squeaky clean," he's got nothing to say, he's a one-hit wonder—then dismisses them with pointed swagger. 

Despite his usually sunny outlook, David chafed against the barbs that came with fame. In 2002, the U.K. sketch show "Bo' Selecta!" turned the singer into a recurring caricature, destining him to years of punchlines. (The show's creator, Leigh Francis, recently apologized for his insensitive portrayal of Black celebrities.) After his 2010 Motown covers album, Signed Sealed Delivered, David relocated to Miami for a fresh start. He got shredded, built a loyal Instagram following and DJed for friends at his multimillion-dollar penthouse. Life was good, but he wasn't making music. 

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David eventually returned to the U.K. to work on new songs alongside producer White N3rd and others. After a widely shared cameo on Kurupt FM's BBC Radio 1 takeover, David released Following My Intuition in 2016, his first album in six years. Coming full circle from Born To Do It, the LP hit No. 1 in the U.K. Just like that, Craig David was back in the game. 

Ever since that surprise call from Puffy, Born To Do It keeps finding new believers throughout the decades. On his 2007 mixtape cut "Closer," Drake rapped about racing through back streets "on my Craig David sh*t." Ed Sheeran and Disclosure, who grew up bumping Born To Do It on CD, helped encourage Artful Dodger, now known as Original Dodger for legal reasons, to return to production in 2017. Earlier this year, R&B superstar Khalid tapped David for "hidden ad-libs" on his late-night slow burner, "Eleven."

As for the man himself, he's still proud of the staying power of Born To Do It. But as his Instafamous "NOW" wristwatch makes clear, Craig David doesn't dwell in the past. If you're born to do something, the best thing is to keep doing it. 

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Genia Press Play Hero
Genia (right) performs for Press Play.

Photo: Courtesy of Genia


Press Play: Watch Genia Narrate The Pain Of Heartbreak In This Raw Performance Of "Dear Life"

R&B singer Genia offers an acoustic rendition of "Dear Life," one of the singles from her forthcoming mixtape, '4 AM In The Ville,' out April 19 via Def Jam.

GRAMMYs/Apr 9, 2024 - 05:00 pm

On "Dear Life," R&B singer Genia pens a farewell letter to her lover — while simultaneously reflecting on how the intense saga crumbled her.

"I can't take anymore/ Put my pride aside, thought you could save me," she cries in the first verse. "These days, I don't know what I need/ You destroy me from the inside out/ If I go off the deep end/ You'll be sure not to bring me back."

In this episode of Press Play, watch Genia deliver a stripped-down performance of the vulnerable track alongside her guitarist.

The California native released "Dear Life" on Nov. 10, via Def Jam Recordings. She has also dropped three more singles — "Like That," "Know!," and "Let Me Wander" — leading up to her sophomore mixtape, 4 AM In The Ville, on April 19. 4 AM is a sequel to her debut, 4 PM In The Ville; both projects are inspired by Genia's experience of growing up in Victorville, California.

""[The songs] explore the different stages of grief in a relationship," she revealed in an interview with Urban Magazine. "The second tape is really me touching on falling in love, betrayal, anger, and rape."

Watch the video above to hear Genia's acoustic performance of "Dear Life," and check back to for more new episodes of Press Play.

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GRAMMY nominee Coco Jones
Coco Jones

Photo: Courtesy Coco Jones


Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Coco Jones On Her Breakthrough Year, Turning Rejection Into Purpose & Learning From Babyface

Coco Jones is nominated across five categories at the 2024 GRAMMYs, including Best New Artist and Best R&B Album for her EP, 'What I Didn't Tell You.' The first-time nominee discussed her hit, "ICU," working with legends and the power of representation.

GRAMMYs/Jan 8, 2024 - 02:23 pm

Coco Jones is feeling more inspired than ever following a year of exciting surprises and breakthroughs. In 2023, the 25-year-old budding star celebrated her first Billboard Hot 100 entry thanks to her platinum-selling "ICU" single, embarked on her first headlining tour, and earned her first GRAMMY nominations.

"Being a GRAMMY-nominated artist changes everything. It's such a different creative mindset when the world says, 'You're good, we like what you do,'" Jones tells "It's like a gold star. It makes you want to work harder, it makes you wanna continue to impress, and it makes you impressed with yourself, too."

Jones is nominated across five categories at the 2024 GRAMMYs: Her 2022 EP What I Didn't Tell You is up for Best R&B Album and its "ICU" will compete for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song. Her feature on Babyface's "Simple" has received a nod for Best Traditional R&B Performance. Jones is also up for the coveted golden gramophone for Best New Artist.

In recent years, her vocal prowess has received praise from SZA, Janet Jackson, and Beyoncé, but anyone who's even remotely familiar with Jones' story knows that her newfound success is anything but overnight. Jones first found success at age 14, when she starred in the 2012 Disney movie musical Let It Shine. The Tennessee native faced colorism early on, which she addressed in a 2020 YouTube video that went viral.

"I always wanted that representation that my dreams were possible growing up," she shares. "I definitely was not based in reality of what the entertainment industry is. It's tough and it's challenging and sometimes it isn't fair and that is not what I was prepared for as a kid."

During the pandemic, Jones secured a spot in "Bel-Air" (Peacock's reimagining of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air") as the spoiled yet beloved Hilary Banks, but she never let go of her love of  music. Following her 2014 departure from Hollywood Records, Jones released music independently, including the ominous "Hollyweird" and "Depressed"; when Def Jam approached her in the summer of 2021, she was ready for her close-up.

Fast forward to present, and Jones is gearing up for one of the most pivotal nights of her blossoming career. But perhaps the most precious thing she's collected along the way is self-assurance. "I'm learning that I have to believe in my creative choices and that I shouldn't second guess what I feel because it does well," she says with a laugh.

Of her recent success, Jones says the back-to-back accolades shocked her, but like a true artist, she's already thinking ahead and manifesting an exciting first for 2024: "I want my debut album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart."

Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs, Jones discusses the power of representation for dark-skinned Black women, why her mother is her biggest inspiration, and how joining forces with Babyface created momentum in her career.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

After finding out that you received five GRAMMY nominations, you posted an Instagram video showing you and your mother reveling in the excitement of it all. Tell me more about that moment and your mother's role in this journey.

I'm one of four children and my mom owned multiple businesses, but she made us all feel loved and supported while also being a boss. Watching her navigate the entertainment industry — which she had no prior experience with — was very inspiring. She took every challenge head-on and still managed to make time with all of her kids. 

She's always been a visionary, so I think for her, it's like, This is exactly what we worked for. The end goal is to be award-winning, to be show-stopping, to be classic, to be timeless. That's what she saw for me even when I was a little girl on stage singing Aretha Franklin.

There were times when it was hard for me to see what she saw in me, especially when you're dealing with the rejection that is the music industry. But she always knows the right thing to say to keep me going and to keep my faith. So, when it wasn't like how it is now, she was the entire team. She did anything she could to help me progress.

You retweeted a meet-and-greet with a fan, who donned your merch from 2018, which seemed to take you by surprise. It seems like your 2023 breakthrough was a win for not just yourself, but for those early supporters as well.

I would definitely say it's a win for my fans and my supporters, but also for young Black women who look like me and have big dreams and just want to see what they are dreaming about is possible. I know that I inspire so many young Black women — they tell me almost every day that seeing me win helps them believe in themselves winning.

My goal is to continue to break those barriers down for young Black women so that it's not such a surprise when we succeed.

In a 2022 interview, you said you wanted to experience the highs of being an entertainer and being on stage "even if it meant a lot of lows." Many creatives feel that way. Do you have any advice for struggling artists who feel like no one's paying attention?

You can make it this thing where you feel like you're running out of time, or you can make it feel like you're adjusting to time. Time is whatever you decide it is.

There were so many obstacles I didn't understand, but hindsight is 20/20. I needed the lessons that I learned, I needed the self-reliance, I needed the optimism and the faith. So, I think it was all very growing but still tough not knowing what was going to happen, not knowing if I was going to have that life-changing job, that life-changing song. 

I'm just grateful to God for protecting me through all the confusion and for not giving up. I had enough support around me and enough doors to open even though they felt far and few between to keep me sustained and pursuing this dream, even though I was pursuing it without any guarantees.

What I Didn't Tell You isn't the first EP you released, but it's the one that made you a first-time GRAMMY nominee. What was different this time around?

I was very supported; when Def Jam approached me, they seemed so understanding of my vision that I couldn't help but feel like we were already a team. They helped me put the pieces together. Before this, I was just on my own or it was me and my mom, so I felt more supported with this EP release. My label understands me and what I want to be, and there's no pushback against who I am and what I can naturally do. It's all about enhancing. 

As part of R&B's new class, what do you want to bring to the genre?

More uptempo! I want to be able to sing my heart out but make a bop that you wanna dance to. I love how Whitney Houston would do that with some of her songs like "I'm Your Baby Tonight" and "How Will I Know."

Your breakthrough single, "ICU," is up for Best R&B Song, but what lesser-known song off What I Didn't Tell You (Deluxe) would you nominate in the same category if you could?

"Fallin'" because it's a sensual song, and I feel like it sits in a really cool, pretty place in my voice. It also tells a good story of the chaos that my life is while also starting to fall for somebody.

In 2022, you joined forces with R&B legend Babyface for his collaborative Girls Night Out project. Your "Simple" duet with him is nominated for Best Traditional R&B Performance. Do you think collaborating with Babyface acted as a precursor for the incredible year you had?

When I learned Babyface wanted me on his album, I was beside myself. He was really one of the first legends to give me that stamp of approval. I definitely think the recognition I got from him was like a turning point in what was next for my life. The world started to notice around that time. 

When I interviewed Babyface soon after the release of Girls Night Out, he talked about doing his homework to better understand the differences in today's R&B. That was surprising to hear, because he's clearly an expert at writing hit songs but not above learning from others. What did you learn from his mentorship?

I just learned that you can be a legend and you can still be open to ideas, open to new talents, and open to suggestions. Just stay open to what’s new, who's new, and why they're doing well, and that's what will keep you legendary. 

I'm a big fan of studying music, so I will continue to be a student. Creating music and studying music are two different things to me. I study it and then I feel creative, so I think it's about separating them because sometimes if you're creating while studying, you just end up repeating exactly what somebody's doing and that doesn't feel authentic. It's more about getting inspired and then creating.

My love for music and being a creative is what keeps me going because it's not always fun, it's not always easy. Sometimes it's about business, sometimes it's about pushing past your exhaustion. I don't think I would do that, not for this long, if I didn't love the payoff of being a creative. 

How will you celebrate if you win a GRAMMY?

I haven't thought about how I'm gonna celebrate. I think my favorite type of celebrations are intimate. They're with people who are in the mud with me — my family, my team. I would probably just want to have a great dinner and think about how far we've come and what's next.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Franc Moody
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 


A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."


Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.


L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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