Wayman Tisdale: The Fonk Record

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Posted November 29, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

Get up for the down stroke with Wayman Tisdale’s final record

As if Doctor Funkenstein and his clones decided to zoom their flying saucer into the new millennia, another wave of the Mothership Connection lands safely on The Fonk Record; the posthumous project from legendary jazz producer/songwriter Wayman Tisdale. Usually posthumous projects lack the luster and artistic ambition of the endeared material of a legend [i.e. Ray Charles, Johnny Cash], but sometimes exceptions are made, depending on the executives in charge of the final release. There’s no doubt about it Tisdale, if alive, would have wanted this album to hit shelves. Despite the smooth jazz outings of his past eight projects, The Fonk Record displays adventurous goofiness, animated multiple personalities and thick layers of slap bass and Cameo funk. Throughout the entire album, Tiz (Tisdale’s funky alter-ego) channels his best DJ Funktipus impression; leaning heavily on the groundwork laid by the extraterrestrial brothers of Chocolate City’s WEFUNK.

George Clinton lays his P-Funk blessing on “This Fonks 4u;” where he spits out such memorable durrty lines like “tail ain’t nothing but a long booty, booty ain’t nuthin’ but a butt” and a kind of bravado that feels like an authorized artifact from Parliament’s warchest. “Spread tha Butta” nails down Clinton’s rap-ology (“Are you a candidate for Funk-itus/Hit me suckas”) and a background vocal ensemble that feels so much like a pastiche of the Fuzzy Haskins-Eddie Hazel-Garry Shider-Bootsy Collins union. George Duke adds his synth flares on “Let’s Ride;” picking up where his “Reach For It” 1977 funk gem left off.

There’s so many manifestations of Clinton’s intergalactic funk, especially when the ‘80’s called for an unfortunate down-sized synth-pop version of Parliament-Funkadelic. Even if Tisdale spends much of his time examining Clinton’s work ethic, he lays down delicious layers of Roger Troutman vocoder (“Wayman’s Gotta Do It,” “Neck Bones!”), OutKast’s sexy ooze (“Sunshine”) and Gap Band soul (“If You Really Want to Know”). Still the funky elements aren’t enough to overtake the album’s obvious voids: what gets in the way of the album’s richest grooves is its abandonment of the melodic sticky hooks. The never-ceasing hip-hop-styled lyricalness sometimes gets in the way of Tisdale’s framework. Needless to say, Tisadle’s over-the-horizon funk still comes with lots of entertainment value. The Fonk Record doesn’t have the juicy sampling flavors of Clinton’s or James Brown’s “on-the-one” stuff or those “hipbone-connected-to-my-thighbone” sing-a-long choruses, but it’s a potent example of Tisdale’s overlooked artistry and a thorough example of the jazzman’s best work.

J MATTHEW COBB

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HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 25 October 2010
  • Label: Rendezvous/Mack Avenue
  • Producers: Derek “DOA”Allen, Wayman Tisdale
  • Track Favs: Let’s Ride, This Fonk Is 4 U, Wayman’s Gotta Have It, Spread Tha Butta

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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