Heavy D & the Boyz’ ‘Blue Funk’ Remembered 20 Years Later
Before Heavy D and The Boyz dropped their fourth album ‘Blue Funk,’ they were engulfed in the early era of 1990s hip-hop. It was all gold rope chains and high top fades, some new jack swing and house party vibes back then.
Yet on Jan. 12, 1993, the "Overweight Lover" released 'Blue Funk,' a project that took the fun down a notch, but still kept his appeal with the ladies. He chose to adapt to the sound taking over the airwaves of New York at the time -- a grittier, harder, boom bap sound based off of storytelling of real life struggles. His go-to set of legendary producers including DJ Premier and Pete Rock outfitted him with the cohesive sounds on the LP.
Every few cuts on the LP play a sample of the entertainer being interviewed. He opens up on several of his ideologies, such as the relationship between black men and women, living in the ghetto and his creative process. He also reveals being an introvert as a child, describing that time as lonely, being the youngest and liking his own space and quiet time.
Variety magazine spoke to Heavy D about ‘Blue Funk’ before the album dropped in 1993. “(This will) allow more intimacy and allow my fans to see me (better)," the rapper shared. He also said he wanted "the respect and admiration from my fans as well as my peers."
While Heavy D was rapping on the album, he also fused reggae into his music -- the late rapper was born in Jamaica before moving to Mount Vernon, N.Y. On ‘Talk Is Cheap,’ he borrows from reggae duo Chaka Demus & Pliers' 'Bam Bam.' And on ‘Girl,’ he sings in patois, giving an invitation to the ladies to come to his “big belly love.”
It's also pretty clear why ‘Blue Funk,’ produced and mixed by Pete Rock, was chosen as the title track. The track possesses exemplary sampling from James Brown, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie and Lou Donaldson. On the track, he spit some solid self-defining lines. “Not into showing off 'cause I’m not the show off type / I rather take my time, writing rhymes and blow on the mic,” Heavy D rhymes.
Pete Rock spoke to Complex last year about working with Heavy D on the record. “I remember making that beat in the basement, and Hev grooving to it," the producer stated. "Once Hev hears something and starts grooving to it, he’s gonna make something with it. So that’s what happened, and how ‘Blue Funk’ came about.”
On 'Who’s the Man?' Heavy D gives a stellar inside look of how his life evolved since fame. He touches on topics like dudes that be "frontin'," girls acting brand new and thinking he’s cute since he got some extra dough and now “getting money by the pound.” Although he’s flossing of his success, D gets a grade A in humble bragging as it's not too much.
Although he doesn’t have many features on the album, his last track, ‘A Bunch of N----s,’ leaves room for other rappers to join him in the booth. D was prolific in choosing talent, as he has a young Busta Rhymes and Biggie Smalls lay down bars on the track, alongside Gang Starr's Guru, 3rd Eye and Rob-O.
'Blue Funk' peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart and became the group’s third straight platinum-selling album.
After Heavy D’s death in 2011, DJ Premier expressed his sympathy via Twitter and revealed they were putting together a follow-up album to 'Blue Funk.' “Still tripp off Heavy D...we had started the "Blue Funk 2 LP" and were on the phone while he put his B.E.T. Show 2gether at my studio,” he tweeted.
Although a 'Blue Funk 2' would have been exciting to hear, the first was satisfying and influenced the next generation of rappers and hip-hop lovers.
Watch Heavy D and the Boyz's 'Blue Funk' Video