UK funky is a true melting pot of influences, taking cues from funky house, UK garage, Afrobeats, soca, and grime — and in more recent times, genres like gqom and kuduro.
Originating in London in the late 2000s, UK funky’s influence was intense but short-lived. Underground hype gave way to commercial success, before the genre disappeared seemingly overnight around 2012. In recent years, however, a new generation of producers has come to the forefront of the UK funky underground scene with their own interpretations and permutations of the sound.
To mark the launch of Beatport’s new UK funky sub-genre, we take a look at six essential UK funky tracks to add to your DJ crates — from old-school classics, to the funky-influenced artists pushing the sound forward in 2020.
Lil Silva – Seasons (2010)
Originally released as a white label in 2008, Lil Silva’s “Seasons” was given an official release at the height of UK funky’s prominence. It was then picked up by Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990’s seminal Night Slugs.
Taking an FL Studio trumpet synth preset and turning it into one of the biggest earworms in funky, “Seasons” has firmly earned its place as a UK dance music classic, and is still guaranteed to go off any time it’s played in a club. Put simply, if you ever had to choose one track to be an introduction to UK funky, this would be it.
Roska feat. Jammz – Don’t Get Gassed (2018)
It would be impossible to talk about UK funky without mentioning Roska, one of the scene’s most dedicated and prolific producers. Through his productions, his long-running Rinse FM residency — which ran for over 7 years and spawned two albums — and his label Roska Kicks & Snares, Roska has been at the forefront of funky since the scene’s inception.
On “Don’t Get Gassed,” taken from his latest album Perception, Roska recruits Jammz to join the dots between MC-led grime and club-focused UK funky.
TSVI feat. Luru – The Cobra’s Dance (2018)
Founded by TSVI and Wallwork in 2015, London-via-Italy label Nervous Horizon has received huge acclaim in recent years for its brand of percussion-led club music, which fuses UK funky’s hard-hitting, dancefloor-oriented rhythms with instrumentation from regions like North Africa and South Asia.
Teaming up with longtime label associate Luru, TSVI fine-tunes this approach on “The Cobra’s Dance,” taken from his mind-bending album Inner Worlds. Led by punchy snares and frantic tabla rolls, tracks like “The Cobra’s Dance” see TSVI at his boundary-pushing best.
Champion – Lighter VIP (2011)
One of the most versatile producers working in the UK underground, Champion has been churning out high-impact, bass-loaded heat for over a decade, working across garage, bassline, drum & bass and UK funky, while collaborating with the likes of Flava D, Four Tet, and Terror Danjah in the process.
While 2011’s Lighter EP wasn’t Champion’s first release, it was the VIP version of the title track that put him on the map. “Lighter VIP” is pure gunfinger material from the moment Champion’s “Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-Champion Sound” tag gives way to its pulsating bassline, pinned under funky’s signature syncopated snare.
Cooly G – Narst (2009)
“Narst” is taken from Cooly G’s debut EP on Kode9’s pioneering Hyperdub label, and was one of the first UK funky releases on the label at a time when Hyperdub was still best known for its dubstep releases. It’s also one of the more understated tracks on this list, influenced as much by the slow-burn structure of afro house as it is by funky.
Building the track around an ominous, grime-influenced string loop, Cooly G gradually adds elements at a restrained pace, teasing in weighty sub bass and sparse percussion for two minutes before dropping into a dark and funky rhythm.
Jus Now – Tun Up (2013)
Jus Now — a link-up between Bristolian producer SNØW and Trinidad-based Lazerbeam — have been pushing their bass-heavy, carnival-ready music since 2013, mashing up the best parts of UK bass-led music with the rhythms of Trinidad soca. While Jus Now’s music arguably transcends the UK funky label, tracks like “Tun Up, Cyah Help It” and “Fire (Spotie)” exemplify the same melting pot outlook that gives funky such an infectious blend of sounds.
Featuring vocals from soca legend Bunji Garlin and London’s Stylo G, “Tun Up” is a straight-up party anthem — we challenge you not to lose it once that chorus hits.