The Funk Fest Tour is bringing classic R&B groups to Columbia on Saturday, June 13. While you may not immediately recognize some of the artist’s names, you’ll definitely recognize their music, which remains a set of standbys in clubs and media alike.
The festival-style concert, performed at Benedict College’s Charlie W. Johnson Stadium, features six acts, some of whom have been bringing the funk since the late ’80s. Some of their greatest hits are songs that you can’t help but dance or sing along to, but you might find yourself thinking, “This was them all along?”
Here are some of the most recognizable songs you’ll hear at Funk Fest:
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Jodeci – “Forever My Lady”
Known as “The Bad Boys of R&B,” Charlotte natives Jodeci broke through in 1991 with their album “Forever My Lady” and released three No. 1 singles, including a song of the same name. The group’s sound is emblematic of early ’90s R&B, shaped by producers Teddy Riley and Keith Sweat and characterized by saccharine ballads and a marriage of hip-hop and soul.
Blackstreet – “No Diggity”
While millennials may be more familiar with “No Diggity” as one of the songs covered in hit movie “Pitch Perfect,” the song was named one of the 100 greatest pop songs by Rolling Stone and MTV. The song has a simple, sultry backing track of drums and piano and an irresistibly singable chorus (“I like the way you work it/No diggity, I got to bag it up”). It’s a song you can’t help but move to.
Bell Biv Devoe – “Poison”
While first known as a spinoff group consisting of members of popular ’80s groups, Bell Biv Devoe carved out a place in hip-hop history for themselves with “Poison.” In the early ’90s, Bell Biv Devoe was credited with being one of the pioneers of “new jack swing,” a combination of hip-hop, soul, funk and pop. The song set itself apart with its trademark upward sliding vocal harmonies.
2 Live Crew – “Banned in the USA”
While 2 Live Crew is better known for other more risque songs, this 1990 hit is the one best suited for a family newspaper. “Banned in the USA,” off the album of the same name, is a response to a federal court case that ruled the band’s previous album, “As Nasty As They Wanna Be,” was obscene, thus illegal in multiple Florida counties. The ruling was later overturned by the 11th Circuit Court, but this gem of hip-hop history endures. 2 Live Crew sampled Bruce Springsteen’s iconic “Born in the USA” and rewrote the chorus to fit the song’s theme. The sampled track is intercut with defiant raps from group members. 2 Live Crew’s music continues to be sampled today, especially by mash-up artists like Girl Talk.
If you go: Funk Fest will come to Benedict College on June 13, with doors opening at 3 p.m. for the 5 p.m. show. Other scheduled guests include Demetria McKinney, the “Real Housewife of Atlanta”-turned-singer and Mint Condition. Tickets are $35 to $130. Go to funkfesttour.com or call (888) 547-6478 to order.