Chaka Khan returns to her funk roots


“Tell Me Something Good.” Well, OK! Next month, Chaka Khan will release Funk This, her first studio album in 10 years. “Tell me that you like it, yeah.” Oh, I’m sure I will, because the album is being promoted as a return to Ms. Khan’s earlier funk-infused days — or is that daze? The thing about Chaka Khan is that “Once You Get Started It’s Hard to Stop” digging her funk and soulful flow. I mean, really, when you listen to Chaka Khan back in the Rufus era or some of her earlier solo albums, “Do You Love What You Feel”? I know I sure do.

Funk This is scheduled for a Sept. 25 release. The album is in the hands of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, producers who know how to bring both the funk and the hits. The album will consist of original songs and a few covers — done Chaka-style, of course. She offers her version of Prince‘s “Sign ‘O’ the Times,” and the last time she Chaka-tized a Prince song, “I Feel for You,” she earned a Grammy for her efforts. She also sings a duet with Michael McDonald (his classic “You Belong to Me”), covers Joni Mitchell‘s “Ladies’ Man” and Jimi Hendrix‘s “Castles Made of Sand,” and even does a little Rufus medley.

Of the original songs on the album, the one generating a buzz is “Disrespectful,” sung with Mary J. Blige. Khan’s MySpace page also has the first single, “Angel.” The more I hear and the more I read, the more I am anticipating the release of the album.

There is no doubt that Chaka Khan is an icon (or is that ikhan?) in the singing business. She has recorded every genre of music, from R&B to jazz to classical (ClassiKhan with the London Philharmonic). But Chaka Khan broke in and broke through with funk, and I’m hoping she can still represent.

When discussing the new release and her return to her funk roots, Khan, whose birth name is Yvette, promises great things:

“The album may remind people of my early Rufus albums because I’m in a similar ‘soul space.’ I’ve been on a little journey in the last few years, finding Yvette again. I went through a period of being insecure. I’m walking a different path now. I’ve changed. This album is different from any other album I’ve recorded because it reflects what I’m about, who I am now. The album is called ‘Funk This!’ because it’s funky!”

Malinda already dropped a funk soul mixtape on your ears, so you can go there to get hit up with a few more of the righteous younger sisters of soul. But when I think of old school soulful funk, “Ain’t no body, loves me better, makes me happy, makes me feel this way” but Chaka Khan. And when the woman teases, “Don’t you hear me talking, baby, love me now or I’ll go crazy,” it’s all I can do to remember how to breathe because her voice is a “Sweet Thing,” for sure. So “Chaka Whatcha Gonna Do for Me”? I’ll be listening, so say it loud and clear, “I’m every woman, it’s all in me; anything you want done, baby, I’ll do it naturally. Oh, oh, oh …”