The Most Influential Funk Songs From Rufus and Chaka Khan
Rufus and Chaka Khan performing "Stop On By" live, 1975 - BLAQUEMUSCLE / Youtube
Before the iconic Queen of Funk Chaka Khan rose to prominence with her solo career, she fronted the band Rufus first. Known for their funk essentials that rose to massive acclaim from peers and fans alike, Rufus was a force to be reckoned with in the development of funk. Slowly gaining traction to the top of charts, the band’s time together was brief, when Khan was overshadowing the image of the band, eventually leading to their breakup, while Khan continued on a solo path. In honor of one of funk’s greatest innovators, here are some of the seminal tracks by Rufus with Chaka Khan.
“Tell Me Something Good” – Rags to Rufus (1974)
Written by the illustrious Stevie Wonder himself, “Tell Me Something Good” was give to Rufus to explore and enjoy. The result was a wacky, whimsical arrangement, with the signature guitar wah-wah twang, and the heavy bass doing most of the melodic and accent work, while Khan’s carefree vocals envelopes the track in a hypnotic glaze.
“Sweet Thing” – Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan (1975)
Co-written by Chaka Khan and Tony Maiden, “Sweet Thing” has a serene, laid-back vibe that is employed with clean guitars, synths, and a rumbling bass that accents points of transition in the track, making it a predictable yet surprising arrangement to listen to. Chaka Khan’s powerful vocals brings the song to a whole other level, with her ad libs heightening the experience.
“Do You Love What You Feel” – Masterjam (1979)
Dipping into soul and disco influences, “Do You Love What You Feel” sported an energetic feel in its arrangement, with an infectious drum pattern that is playfully woven over and under by the bass parts. With brass parts that feature jazz accents, the song became so popular with the dance crowd that it shot to the top of the Hot Soul Singles charts.
“Ain’t Nobody” – Stompin’ At The Savoy (1983)
Written around a synthesizer loop and drum simulation machine, “Ain’t Nobody” featured that distinct 80’s disco dance sound, and occasionally highlighted by guitar detailing for that synthwave feel. Khan’s vocals are restrained, yet contain the same power as with other records, making the single one of the band’s best hits.
“At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)” – Ask Rufus (1977)
A powerful bass riff welcomes you to the track, up to an explosive progression in the chorus that only intensifies with Chaka Khan’s vocals. The energy and vitality pouring out of the arrangement can only be rivaled by itself, with the band aiming for that full sound, notably using the brass section to emphasize the wall of sound created.