Five Fingers of Funk Releases Portland Say It Again On May 5th
On May 5, Portland-based hip-hop band Five Fingers of Funk will release Portland Say It Again on Kill Rock Stars. The album marks the band’s first release with the orginal members since 1998. The 10 song album documents the ironies of being a grown up in the young man’s game of hip hop. Listeners are treated to a return to the funk including the Fingers three-piece horn section and DJ Chillest Illest on the mic and turntables. Also featured are guest appearances from Cool Nutz, Jumbo (of the Lifesavas), Bosko, and Dres from Black Sheep.
“We Were Big In The Nineties” kicks off the project with a bold edit of a live show recording and a shiny new horn arrangement over self deprecating reflections on legacy and becoming middle aged in the hip hop world. The completion of one new song sparked creative enthusiasm from the entire band. Before long, fresh performances were being laid down in a collaborative frenzy that would yield a combination of repurposed analog recordings from the nineties alongside brand new material.
Five Fingers Of Funk began as a five-piece backing up MC Pete Miser but quickly exploded into a ten-man behemoth including a three-piece horn section and DJ Chillest Illest on turntables. The band established itself as a major draw at Portland music venues through its energetic shows that inspired writer SP Clarke to report “if you can’t party to this shit, you must be dead.” By playing alongside indy rock mainstays such as the Dandy Warhols and Heat Miser, the Fingers bridged the gap between Portland’s alternative movement and its blossoming underground hip-hop scene ushering in an era in which local hip-hop was showcased in downtown venues for the first time.
These days, rappers performing with live bands barely raise an eyebrow. Thirty years ago, it was all but unheard of, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, a region synonymous with indie rock and grunge. In 1992. as a collective of twenty-somethings, Five Fingers Of Funk came together to experiment with a sound at the intersection of James Brown style Funk and lyrically driven hip-hop.
By the late-nineties, the band had expanded their reach from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine and everywhere in between. The band remained fiercely independent, self-releasing three full-length albums and sharing stages with Funk legends Maceo Parker and Bootsy Collins as well as hip-hop icons Run DMC, De La Soul, and another live hip-hop band coincidentally founded in 1992, The Roots.
Unceremoniously, Five Fingers Of Funk eventually split up over the predictable politics that come with ten young men touring in one van for years. With the perspective of time and individual musical accomplishments, the band has reunited to to release Portland Say It Again on its new label home Kill Rock Stars this spring.