rickey vincent

Rickey Vincent Interview
Pendarvis H.
Rickey Vincent Interview

“You need to trust what you believe in … But the thing is: you’ve got to find your path, you’ve got to find your track.”- Rickey Vincent

Rickey Vincent said he met his wife back in the day, after she asked if he was the author of an article that appeared in the campus newspaper. The article was about James Brown, and likened Brown to a political prisoner. She appreciated his angle. And she dug the Funk. But when they went to get married, she didn’t allow a Funk song to be played as she walked down the isle.

And she didn’t name her kids after James Brown’s band members— somewhat to Rickey’s chagrin.

His love for the funk is deeper than most. 

When Rickey was a kid, he heard “Up For The Downstroke” in 1974 and his world changed. He was 12. And although Parliament Funkadelic sang to his soul. Their tunes weren’t “Soul Music”, it was funk. The music that came afterSoul, and before Disco; the music that gave birth to more 1990’s Hip-Hop songs than Diddy, back when he was Puff Daddy.

Rickey Vincent, author of “Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of The One”, is a professor at UC Berkeley. He teaches a class on globalization and Hip-Hop, but he specializes in the history of Funk music. 

Recently, I sat down with Prof. Vincent, and talked for an hour. We discussed Rick James, Jonny Guitar Watson, Chaka Khan, Too Short, the saxophonist with arguably the coolest name ever— Maceo… and of course: James Brown. 

I cut the interview down to 7 minutes— all about James Brown, for your enjoyment!

Oh! And before I got out of the KPFA studio in Berkeley, I asked Rickey, if he had the chance to give the youth some wisdom, what would he tell them?

OG Told Me:

"Unplug everything for a short period of time everyday. And just listen to what your soul is telling you.”- Rickey Vincent

from the book

FUNK ‘The MUSIC, the PEOPLE, and the RHYTHM of THE ONE’ by Rickey Vincent.

List of essential funk recordings

**** 76 Bar-Kays / Too Hot to Stop non-stop session of all-beef
funk and soul tracks
*** 77 Bar-Kays / Flying High on Your Love smoother mix
still gets rough here and there
**** 78 Bar-Kays / Money Talks resurrected from Stax vaults
delivers deadly dinosaur funk licks
**** 78 Bar-Kays / Light of Life tight mix
of catchy and upbeat grooves


*** = Superior - good grooves and good ideas, but could improve **** = Monster - killer grooves, and a total listening experience

Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers’ Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music

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 by Rickey Vincent 

Connecting the black music tradition with the black activist tradition, Party Music brings both into greater focus than ever before and reveals just how strongly the black power movement was felt on the streets of black America. Interviews reveal the never-before-heard story of the Black Panthers’ R&B band the Lumpen and how five rank-and-file members performed popular music for revolutionaries.  

Beyond the mainstream civil rights movement that is typically discussed are the stories of the Black Panthers, the Black Arts Movement, the antiwar activism, and other radical movements that were central to the impulse that transformed black popular music—and created soul music.

[book link

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The album’s lead single was “Put Your Hands Together,” a song urging cooperation and optimistic prayer for “a better day to come.” Rickey Vincent, author of Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of the One, describes the song as “fairly standard musically”, “with a strong gospel feel.” The second single, “For the Love of Money,” is a protest against materialism with a groove that Rolling Stone described as “downright orgiastic”.The song was written around a bass line composed by Anthony Jackson,which in 2005 Bass Player Magazine described as “landmark.”

All songs written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, except where noted. Side one “Put Your Hands Together” – 4:07 “Ship Ahoy” – 9:41 “This Air I Breathe” (Gamble, Bunny Sigler) – 3:53 “You Got Your Hooks in Me” (Sigler) – 5:34 Side two “For the Love of Money” (Gamble, Huff, Anthony Jackson)– 7:19 “Now That We Found Love” – 4:41 “Don’t Call Me Brother” (Gamble, Sigler) – 8:58 “People Keep Tellin’ Me” (John Whitehead, Gene McFadden, Victor Carstarphen) – 4:00