K-Ci & JoJo have a cinema style video for their “Knock It Off” single which assumes there will be a longer project to come but there is no official word on it.
Daily Archives: August 15, 2013
“I love music and I still study it”
Steve Arrington’s smooth adenoidal trills transformed Slave from a sturdy party band into a premier funk experience during his three album run with them in the ’70-‘80’s. “Watching You” “Just A Touch Of Love” and “Snap Shot” gave the Dayton, Ohio band an identity and Arrington the mettle to later form his Hall Of Fame project. As a solo artist Arrington continued to deny the typical expectations of funk by playing with the pulse, making an anthem for Black male self-esteem and continuing the conversation between jazz and funk started by Miles Davis in the ‘60’s. “Weak In The Knees,” “Nobody Can Be You” and “Beddie Biey” have all been copiously recycled by hip-hop and recognized by funk fans as apex moments in the genre. Arrington commercially peaked with 1985’s Dancin’ In The Key Of Life before disappearing from the music industry after two more albums to focus on his spirituality. He resurfaced in 2009 with the gospel funk project Pure Thang and a year later Dam-Funk reached out to him via Facebook about making new music. Their communication resulted in 2010’s G-funk single “I Be Goin Hard” which lead the way for their newly released album Higher. Dam-Funk’s post hip-hop sensibility and love of classic funk with Arrington’s modernized fully intact muse made Higher a progressive excursion.
I love the album. It sounds like someone from your era doing something current not dated. How did you do that?
I love music and I still study it. I am adventurous as I’ve always been from when I was just a kid. My excitement today is to not try to recreate what I’ve done years ago but I continue to move forward and stay in the same mindset I was in years ago trying to do something. And I hope to continue to press the boundaries and move things forward in my own special way.
How would you say Higher is Steve Arrington but Steve Arrington in 2013? What are things that link it to your earlier work but make it different?
I think it has echoes of many things moved into one. I think Dam-Funk brings that West Coast sound and that midwest sound that I have you’ve heard it a lot in the G-Funk style from sampling. But you haven’t heard it a lot from an actual meeting of individuals doing a whole project together I think that’s very unique. I think another thing that’s interesting is Dam’s music has its own style it has echoes of things from funk’s past but you know he’s into pressing things forward. My vocal style my lyrical approach my melodic approach and my harmonic approach I see to do those same things. So I think us coming together you hear things moving forward and you still hear echoes from funk’s history. It also has a rawness to it, I like that it’s not too processed it’s not too produced it’s not too big studio sounding in your face.
How did Higher come about?
Well actually I think it was around 2010 Dam hit me up on Facebook and he was like, “Hey man I’m a funk artist and I wanna to keep this funk going and I hear you’re back out I heard a track you had on your website and I heard your funk gospel CD you did and I’d love to do a collab with you on a song.” So he sent some material and I picked the song that I like in terms of music and I wrote to it and the song’s on the album and it’s called “Magnificent.” That’s the first track we did together, sent it back out and he and Peanut Butter Wolf from Stones Throw were like “Oh my God we’re way feeling that, how about we do a 3-song EP?” I said cool so then I did three songs sent them back out and they said ‘How about we turn it into six?’ And then it went into nine and then he said, “Yo man would you like to join the Stones Throw family?” Their thing was, “Your sound and your style has gone into another place.” When I started singing on “Just A Touch Of Love” people were like “Man that’s different, the intervals, the tones we gonna go with it, it’s different.” I followed my heart and that’s been my mindset and my thing all along. You know my influences like let’s say Miles. What I loved about Miles Davis not just his sound but he always embraced the current culture. He never looked back and tried to re-create the good old days and compete with himself. He just always moved forward and that’s my perspective and like I said I constantly work on my craft and I’m interested in functioning now and wanting to be creative and unique today versus it’s always about “A Touch Of Love.” I love “A Touch Of Love” but I’m not stuck there.
How did your relationship with music start?
My half-brother Victor Shaw played saxophone and had local bands and some of the members in his band at one time were Marvin Pierce and Junie Morrison of The Ohio Players and they were about maybe 6-7 years older than me. And at that time when you’re a little homie that’s a bit older. So you know that would rehearse in the basement of my house. My mother was the manager at times and I would listen to those guys like sit on the steps. And Dayton was such a hotbed at that time leading to the Ohio Players making it big. But you know I saw a lot of those guys in local bands with my brother. So yes music was a very important part of my upbringing and just listening to a lot of good music from Motown to Mongo Santamaria. Latin music my mother had a lot of good jazz so I listened to a lot of cool stuff early in life.