Will Donae’O’s Party Harder revive funky house in the new year?
I couldn’t believe my eyes when Donae’O announced that he’ll be releasing a funky house album before the year is up. Now we no longer have to transport ourselves back in time to relive the funky sound that once swept the nation. For those who are unaware, funky house became an essential part of British culture – particularly cementing its place in the late 2000s. Though, its sound bares obvious roots in house and garage, the unique Calypso, Afro and Latin undertones also can’t be ignored. Funky house was the precursor to Afrobeats and certainly what we understand the U.K. music scene to be today. It was the first time this sort of sound was heavily commercialised to a U.K. audience.
Musical acts like Crazy Cousinz and Fuzzy Logik stormed the scene with unforgettable dance tracks such as Do You Mind, In The Morning and The Funky Anthem. There was a positive ambiance that was characteristic of the genre. It was a much better time, a time of dancing which brought people (both young and old) together to see who could do “the wickedest skank”. It stole the heart of the youth at the time. Through song and dance, funky house ultimately brought about a shared sense of community and identity as it had now become a quintessentially UK sound.
I can’t help but reminisce about my younger days. The days where Bluetooth and infrared were the main methods of transferring music. The dominance of Sony Ericsson, the days where everyone used to huddle round after school, whilst we transferred the funky anthems from one phone to the next. I think about the times I’d come home just to turn on the TV and switch to Channel U, or go on the internet to watch the latest funky house music video on YouTube. I became so immersed in the tribal-like drum patterns and rich vocals, that accompanied the upbeat riddim. I was fixated on a vast range of funky house mixes and would listen to several playlists to and from school. It became an everyday occurrence for me, as my love for the genre grew stronger.
I was in my early teens when Head, Shoulders, Kneez & Toes by K.I.G. dropped on YouTube in 2009. The hook was catchy, I mean if you didn’t know it word-for-word were you really a fan? Likewise, the tone was light-hearted and the story line was very amusing. The video portrayed the very communities of working class/middle-income families that shaped the main demographic. It represented the diverse number of races that filled secondary and grammar schools in cities across the U.K. It was a true representation of society and I believe that’s why, so many people connected with it at the time.
Then there were ‘skanks‘ (novelty dances) which were associated with each song. Some of my favourites include Tribal Skank, JungleSkank, Tribal Man Skank and how could I forget Migraine Skank. Another which was very popular was Swine Flu Skank due to its underlying message, which resonated with society at the time of the growing epidemic.
Donae’O who considers himself a ‘collective artist’ kept the momentum going. He took the country by storm with his song Party Hard (2009) and a debut album that had the same name. Donae’O’s impact on the music scene cannot be ignored. His breath control and the way he worked his rhyme scheme around the beat was NASTY. The style of his songs set him apart and leads me to refer to him as the ‘funky house connoisseur’. He drew his inspirations from Biggie and D’Angelo as said in an interview in 2015. His consistency with songs like I’m Fly, African Warrior, Move To Da Gyal Dem and “Mami No Like” places him as one of the most dedicated musicians in the UK’s musical history. When Donae’O is on a track, you just know it will bang by default. It’s a certified BOP. He brought the vibes and we were all mesmerised. Song after song he proved himself a worthy candidate for the funky house crown. He never compromised on his core identity. Is Donae’O the best candidate to bring about an interest in the genre again? Yes, he is.
I asked my friends to share their opinion and how they felt when they first heard Party Hard.
“He’s fresh. His voice sits so effortlessly on the beat, it’s almost like you wanted to rave alongside him. You can envision him having a great stage presence” said Natasha.
Another of my friends also shared the same sentiments, “Donae’O had a certain swag about him when funky house was popping” Richard explained. He went onto say, “When Donae’O dropped House Party featuring D Double E and Sneakbo, it really went over people’s heads. I think the culture has moved forward. A transition was definitely occurring around 2013, at the time when I was in sixth form”.
This brings me to question what challenges Donae’O could face in bringing about the second-coming of funky house. If funky house does become more commercially viable in 2018, will it lose its authentic U.K. sound? Is that something we are willing to sacrifice? Is it really a negative thing? Can it only survive in glimpses within more accepted and mainstream genres? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
This article is proof that I could never quite let funky house go. The sounds, the memories, the emotions it brought transformed my life and the way I perceived music forever. When Grime had its revival in 2016 and gained a greater acceptance on the world stage, I really hoped the same would happen to funky house. I believed the market was still there and that the passions were enough to sustain a revival in some sort of way. Time passed and funky house remained a distant memory. It just couldn’t find its place in the U.K. music scene again, which comes as a surprise given the rise of other niche genres such as indie and soul. Industries which previously faced difficulties in becoming a crucial part of mainstream music.
So, will 2018 be the year for Donae’O?
‘PARTY HARDER’ DROPS ON NEW YEARS EVE.
WHY NOT KEEP UP WITH DONAE’O HERE