After a series of funk and jazz flavored singles and production credits for the likes of Large Professor or Diamond D, The Funk League, aka Hugo and the Soulbrother Suspect, is now ready to spread more groove with the release of a full length album this fall, “Funky As Usual”.
Both from the east side of Paris (20th district), rare groove connoisseurs and vinyl collectors, Hugo and Suspect would eventually meet half a decade ago at the later then-gig (with label mate and collaborator Cleon in the lineup), the “Soulbrothers Break Party”, an event where Paris top notch breakdancers and latin/funk listeners would gather round monthly during four years.
Quickly, the two began trading records and gathering their best breaks to improve each other productions and DJ sets. They would ultimately record a few demos together, one emerging as their first single as The Funk League, “On & On“, featuring Bronx legend Sadat X from Brand Nubian, in 2009. The release featured some tight up-tempo rhythm as well as cold chilling boom bap tracks with swinging sleigh bells, establishing their sound identity, courtesy of that vintage and crispy SP1200 sound, analog equipment and precise turntable wizardry.
Still developing this formula, the League then released another EP, this time with Diamond D, Sadat and Andy C on the mic duties on some jazzy baselines and swinging drums, and a 7″ single with Swedish crew Speech Defect, showing skills on the deep funk tip. As Hugo and Suspect kept working together on a daily basis, it began clear than the collaboration would go beyond singles and EPs, and that it would give birth to a full length album.
“Funky As Usual” is this collection of grooves, covering that three year time span as if it was a single day – and night. A day in the life of two funksters, but also a blend of the duo’s favorite tunes and flows, put together with a precise production trademark (highlighting strong influences of Jazz, Fusion and even Brazilian music), and a subtle sequencing of the songs and interludes through the whole album, thus creating different atmospheric tones and patterns.
Same goes for the mic duties, handled by no less than Large Pro, Diamond, Sadat, Gift of Gab from Blackalicious, but also underground favorites Ugly Duckling, Abdominal, or even songstress Kylie Auldist from Aussie funk sensation, The Bamboos, on an all-acoustic acid jazz track performed and co-composed by label mates, The Joyous Juice.
As vintage sound doesn’t necessarily mean nostalgia, “Funky As Usual” appears as a 2011 update of those legacy sounds we continue to love, from modal jazz to deep funk to nowadays hip-hop or broken beats, holding down the groove traditions for now and beyond.
- DJ LeFto (BBE / lefto.be): “In a world of music where straight forward, cold electronic sounds are taking a lot of room it is always good to come back to a warm, groovy and organic sound, thank you!”
- Mad Mats (Local Talk / Raw Fusion): “Great album…old school done the right way!”
- Tomas Palermo (Google Music / Friday Night Session): “Big MCs on big beats — exactly what we knew the Funk League were capable of pulling off. This album is a great shot in the arm for real hip-hop.”
- Dj Kwak (Fm Brussel): “Cause the return of the boom bap means just that, it’s the return of the real hard beats and real raps … © KRS One”
- Le Mellotron: “Encore une belle pépite. Promo assurée à venir.”
- Mike Chadwick (Jazz FM – DJ): “Sounds amazing, can’t wait to big it up in the UK. There ain’t nothin’ wrong with Groovin’!”
- La Mixletter: “Dans le genre exceptionnels, ils assurent quand ils jonglent avec les beats, les samples, les scratches… (…)’Funky as usual’ est un véritable Must du Rare Groove, frenchy de surcroît, fusionnant avec maestria deep funk, jazz hot, électro hip-hop et breakbeat survolté”