Kalisway Hits Us with Her Favorite Funk Tracks

With her new single “Hit ’Em with the Funk” out today, the Toronto songwriter shares 10 tracks she looks to for inspo.

There’s a certain confidence on “Hit ’Em with the Funk,” the new single from up-and-coming Toronto funk/R&B songwriter Kalisway, that few artists are able to achieve. The song arrives in the aftermath of a pair of 2020 EPs which set the scene for the single without quite achieving the zenith of groove nailed on the track she debuted this morning. 

As innovative as the track is, though, in its merging of forward-thinking R&B and old-fashioned funk, that aforementioned confidence feels just as rooted in the vibrant history of the latter genre as it is in Kalisway’s bold individualism in regard to the former. With artists like Funkadelic and Prince providing plenty of inspiration on the single’s instrumentation, the creative directions she takes with her first-take, best-take vocal recording technique on “Hit ’Em” feel driven by the genre’s legacy of outside-the-box sounds.

To give us a better idea of which specific funk tracks inspired her new single, Kalisway shared a playlist with us comprised of some of her favorite songs. From Bootsy Collins to Chaka Khan, stream the playlist below.

Bootsy Collins, “Party on Plastic”

Fun. That’s what funk is to me. Fun! This song has funk all over it. Plus, Bootsy is an Icon to me. The groove, the energy, the feels—but what ties it all together is the looseness and expressiveness that funk provides. This song always brings me back to why I love funk so much. 

Prince, “If I Was Your Girlfriend”

I love this song. Every time I want to come back to a song that provides me feeling and confidence in sexuality, it’s this. Prince knew how to impact everyone with his words, and the way he expressed them. And it’s a track I always go back to for inspiration.

Parliament, “P Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)”

Want an example of how to make a whole track sound like a wave without more than a kick, snare, hi-hat/open-hat? This is it. I like to think it’s a foundation to what funk is, and how the rhythms and grooves don’t have to be driven by percussion or other elements all the time. It’s a reason why a few of my tracks don’t.

Tom Browne, “Funkin’ for Jamaica”

All that energy, that laughter, that spice! And it’s all live in the moment. Every time I hear this track, I can’t help but move. My music is all about movement and getting up, so you already know this track is a part of my go-tos! 

Funkadelic, “(Not Just) Knee Deep”

Synthesizers. This is one of the first funk tracks I heard when I was little where the synth was so present and colorful. It makes the whole track feel energetic. Synthesizers are a huge part of my instrument catalog, and in almost every track I’ve created! Plus, anytime I see the sun shining on me and I’m feeling good, this is one of the tracks I play.

 

Earth, Wind & Fire, “Let’s Groove”

If you don’t know about this track, bruh… This is my track! This track was mainly why I started to find the different qualities and expressions in my voice. It helped me to find the different tones I could achieve to make my lyrics feel smoother depending on the track.

Kool & the Gang, “Get Down on It”

Y’all better get down on this! Kool & the Gang are OGs. The whole chorus is repetition. Repetition is something I learned when I was 19, that if done correctly, can drive the feeling of the track home, and cause a “never ending” sensation. This track is a mentor to me. Because, still to this day, I cannot stop grooving to it, and feeling like I’m at a BBQ! 

The Jacksons, “Blame It on the Boogie”

This record right here will never die. You know why? Because the feeling is endless. The groove is endless. The colors are endless. One of the reasons I fell in love with funk is because of this song. Because for countless days, it left that feeling of “good times” with me. And it’s one of my main inspirations when I create my own music.

Cheryl Lynn, “Got to Be Real

They say this track is disco. Nah, the bass on this? Got funk all over it. I love bass tones. David Shields, the bassist on this track, killed the bassline for this. Because the bass alone drives the whole record. And not only that, the key change?! Bass is my favorite instrument, period.

Chaka Khan and Rufus, “Tell Me Something Good” 

The way this track begins to me…is iconic. Strong, smooth, impactful song intros always get me fast. The way the wah guitars sound, the way the guitars string out and follow around the beat of the drums—crazy! This song is something I always go to when I’m practicing guitar and guitar wah tones.

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