Chaka Khan - Funk This (2007)

Chaka Khan
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Chaka Khan hasn't released a new album of original material since 1998's Come 2 My House, but has now ended her near-decade away with Funk This. Funk This is exactly what one should expect from its title: It's Chaka Khan's moment to shine. She pays homage to her days with 70's funk/soul collective Rufus, so this project is just unabashedly funky. At no point does she shy away from the power in her tone. Chaka's voice sounds as strong as ever, whether she's wailing for the stars or humming a mild adlib. The album Funk This is a crowning achievement for a timeless talent.

This 13-track set offers an honorable balance between something old, something new and something borrowed.

Chaka Khan hasn't released a new album of original material since 1998's Come 2 My House, but has now ended her near-decade away with Funk This. Funk This is exactly what one should expect from its title: It's Chaka Khan's moment to shine. She pays homage to her days with 70's funk/soul collective Rufus, so this project is just unabashedly funky. At no point does she shy away from the power in her tone. Chaka's voice sounds as strong as ever, whether she's wailing for the stars or humming a mild adlib. The album Funk This is a crowning achievement for a timeless talent.

This 13-track set offers an honorable balance between something old, something new and something borrowed. With the help of super-producers/legends Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Chaka is likely the only artist alive who is capable of re-inventing the 1987 Prince masterpiece, "Sign O' the Times." Eerily, the lyrics still ring true 20 years after the song was originally released, but is made new as Chaka she sails over the melody as only she can. Other renditions include some of her very own vintage Rufus classics - "Pack'd My Bags" & "You Got the Love." And Michael McDonald lends his soulful voice to a remake of his 70s composition "You Belong to Me."

Chaka Khan, along with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, prove their relevancy on the album's first single called "Angel." It's an original R&B ballad with a strong juke joint vibe. Lovers far and wide won't be disappointed by the song's encouraging lyrics - "pretty little baby hiding deep inside; don't you know your love can heal."

On the funky guitar-driven track "Foolish Fool" (originally recorded by Dee Dee Warwick), Chaka declares before the start of the first verse - "now you know she got the wrong girl." No foolish girl will come along and steal her man away. The message is quite clear and undoubtedly believable.

Chaka Khan rarely associates herself with her female counterparts or contemporaries. On Funk This, Mary J. Blige is the sole female conspirator for the new song "Disrespectful." According to press statements made by Chaka, they both recorded their individual vocals in separate studios apart from one another. Mary was the first to record on the track, and then came Chaka. Chaka alleges that Mary had to return to the studio to re-record after hearing Chaka's vocals on the intense track. Ironically, "Disrespectful" is probably the least fulfilling song of them all. Both ladies seem to battle for vocal supremacy and the listener is left wondering what possibly could have been.

Music icons like Chaka Khan are often times stifled by the pressures of delivering a successful album to their fans. Funk This is an album for all skeptics. Through the preparation for this album, Chaka has admitted that she has "been on a little journey in the last few years." Sometimes the path to re-discovery leads us back to where originally we began. Chaka Khan's Funk This album reminds us why we fell in love with her over 30 years ago. The reason is because she's funky!

by Akim Bryant

 
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