Classics: Today – Why You Get Funky On Me (Extended) (Motown)
“Why you get funky on me?” I suppose the response in pretty much in the concept of this New Jack Swing masterpiece at the end.
One could read everything and its contrary at the time – the early 90’s – about the genre and its main actors. In other words, Teddy Riley and his one time self-proclaimed mentor, Gene Griffin. Beginning with the nature of their working relationship which eventually led Riley to go his own way.
As a matter of fact, one might even have doubts as to what role Griffin had as a matter of fact. Or, differently said, if he ever managed to be a producer, the way one can read in the credits of various releases. From Basic Black to Zan‘s albums for instance. Or if he just happened to be an executive producer. Thus hiring the services of Riley to craft up things at the end…
The fact is there was no difference between the sound credited to Griffin and the Riley‘s one. With Today‘s blowing ‘Why You Get Funky On Me’ comin’ up as another brilliant illustration to this. And, in the meantime, one of the best pieces in the history of New Jack Swing.
Therefore, no wonder how ‘Why You Get Funky On Me’ stood as one of the definitive highlights of the 1990 ‘House Party’ OST. Meanwhile comin’ up with all the ingredients to get you dancin’ your ass off all nite long. But also that specific flavor that made the Swingbeat becoming the dominant expression of the R&B at the time. With thanks to Frederick Lee ‘Bubba’ Drakeford‘s irresistible performance. The whole in addition to deliberately uplifting lyrics…
“Yo, the B-the I-the G, the B-U-double-B-A, I am the lead singer of the group Today. I got my man on the side, I’m tryna tell ya why. The reason why I can do it right. You see, all the young ladies they all love with me. I am the Big one, mmm, bubbly. Chief, Wes, and my man Love. I am in the middle, mmm, Big Bub. So you young ladies just step off the tip. I am the one with the sure sure mmm, I am the one who can stand with me. Mmm, you always gettin’ funky on me…”
Today saw the light back in 1984 as The Gents. This in Englewood, NJ, from the reunion between Frederick Lee ‘Bubba’ Drakeford, Larry ‘Love’ McCain, William McNeir, Ronald Scruggs, and Bernard Belle. Teddy Riley, whom they met during an anti-drug benefit, renamed them (as Today). Then brought new members Larry ‘Chief’ Singletary and Wesley ‘Wes’ Adams to form the new line-up of the band with Bubba and McCain. And eventually got them to sign a deal with MCA in 1984.
Today didn’t stay with MCA though. Movin’ to Motown along with MCA’s Urban Department former head Jheryl Busby and a couple of other acts such as The Boys and The Good Girls.
Today released their eponymous debut-album four years later. An album which spanned a couple of classics. From ‘Him Or Me’ to ‘Girl I Got My Eyes On You’ which is an interpolation of Carrie Lucas‘ ‘Show Me Where You’re Coming From’. This in addition to ‘You Stood Me Up’, although to a lesser extend.
Teddy Riley‘s name didn’t appear in the credits on Today‘s second and final album, ‘The New Formula’, back in 1990. But that was at a time when rumors of disagreements between him and Griffin were already circulating. ‘The New Formula’ managed to chart three singles though. With the most famous – ‘Why You Get Funky On Me’ – eventually appearing the the soundtrack of ‘House Party’. And the groovy ‘I Got The Feeling’ makin’ some extra waves in the R&B circuit.
After Today broke up, Drakeford, who’d already been collaborating with various artists, went on his own. Firstly appearing as Bubba on Motown with the Teddy Riley produced ‘I Like Your Style’ in 1991. Then as Big Bub, releasing four albums between 1992 and 2008.
The news of a reunion of the four members of the band circulated back in 2010. This along with some artistic move towards Gospel with the recording of a new album, although it never saw the light at the end. Thus leavin’ us only with a new single by the likes of ‘Orchestrate’ at the time.
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