The stoked funk of Josh Stokes

Baltimore’s one and only Josh Stokes; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Baltimore’s one and only Josh Stokes; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Among the luminaries of the Baltimore underground circuits; today we shine a spotlight on the inspired sound and attitude of Josh Stokes. Having emerged on the scene three years back with the Who Is Josh Stokes album; the Bmore denizen of audio style design has been busying themselves working with the likes of creative folks from Abdu Ali, Joy Postell, Anthony Brown, Beanie Sigel & Freeway, Erica Campbell, Maurette Brown Clark, Marsha Ambrosius, Redman & Methodman among more (too numerous to count); along with releasing the lauded album Funktion. Stokes took the time to share some reflections with us about the journey to making his greatest solo album yet that stands as a living testament to the generative importance of the funk (and how it permeates so many functions of pop music that we take for granted today).

Josh Stokes' Funktion is a reminder that the funk lives on through each and everyone one of us. The opener "Welcome to the Funktion (2Hot)" is the invitation for all to join in on the doxology that is dedicated to the eponymous stated steez of sound. The big single "Dare (I Betchu)" is a hedonistic, psychotropic trip that passes through the decades and stewards of funk past/present/future with head nodding and body moving orchestrations that makes everything new feel old and everything old feel new. The ballgames of lovers sports are expressed on the vulnerable expressions of "Up 2 U", to exhibitions of amour's all-encompassing energy of the ineffable "14 Daze", to the understated song of frustrations and challenges that love brings on "Shit" to illustrating the elated and elevated components of love on "Fly". Everyone is called back to the dance floor on the title track, "Funktion (Lose It)" that blends the motor city mode with a Baltimore state of mind, The big time sax styles are busted out on "Hit Me With the Funk (An Ode to Uncle Jam & Tha Purple 1)" ft. Sarah Huges, offering a slice of the dramatic and cinematic on the moody instrumental "Masquerade", before moving to the acid-jazz depths of carnality with "Lollipop", before the old school hydraulic boom bap of "Ppl Say" and then accelerating all senses of funk’s purpose and aesthetic toward the future on “Easy” that cruises toward the unknown echelon of tomorrow’s offerings of untold intrigue (and creative functions of limitless fascination).

Josh Stokes penned a meditative and reflective foreword about the functions and inspiration information that helped create Funktion:

Since I released my last album Who Is Josh Stokes in 2016 I began to be presented with other great opportunities that would take me further and further into my musical, but ultimately life journey. It was as if this one album was the catalyst to it all. I began to travel, meet new people, create new experiences and create how I wanted. I also began working with a lot of other great talent and could see their great work ethic and what it really takes to sustain an actual career. It was a great learning period for me, I cherish all of those growing phases. It was such a liberating feeling to make music your own way and see people enjoy it, but not only that, want to create with you! I feel that I am just a creator here to lend a helping hand wherever necessary. I am but a mere grateful servant who enjoys the task he was given. All of these things along with the desire to keep growing, and the rich soil that was laid before me (Little Richard, Sly & The Family Stone, George Clinton, Prince, D’angelo, Dilla) and too many more to name, that was and is my constant inspiration to create Funktion and anything that I touch in the future. The funk is still such a major component in music today whether the listener knows it or not. The funk is in the 808, the funk is in the synth, it’s in the claps it’s just today’s interpretation but it’s still alive and everything is always cyclical. Lastly all I ever want to do in any capacity that I’m in is to inspire and make the listener feel good. That’s what we’re here to do as creators — make people feel and think and I just want to do my part as best as I can!

Josh Stokes’ album Funktion is available now via iTunes and everywhere.