The Best Emerging Modern Funk Bands for Hip-Hop Heads

If you love hip-hop then chances are you also dig funk, even if you don’t know it yet. The two genres have been intertwined from the birth of rap and will forever continue to be so going forward.

Originating in the 1960s, funk music is an amalgamation of elements of soul, jazz, and R&B. Funk was born out of the desire for a more relaxed and looser version of dance music, which the genre derived through rhythmic bass lines and melodies played over repetitive, danceable percussion. The best funk bands that emerged during the ’60s would go on to influence just about every popular band you can think of today.

As a sample-based art form, hip-hop in particular was heavily influenced by the breaks and grooves of early funk pioneers like James Brown and The JBs and Parliament Funkadelic, whose music was looped to form the foundation of the early rap music played by pioneers like Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash.

Sampling remains a huge part of rap to this day, and a whole sub-genre of funk has sprouted up to pay homage to the rap-funk connection, crafting groove- and breakbeat-heavy sounds perfectly tailored for hip-hop fans. With that in mind, here’s my list of the best funk bands that hip-hop heads should listen to.


13th Ward Social Club

As a self-proclaimed “one man sound orchestra,” Providence-based artist Justin Catoni has carved a noteworthy niche in the world of funk with his music venture 13th Ward Social Club. Gaining the attention of esteemed artists like Janko Nilovic, Danger Mouse, and El Michels Affair, Catoni’s distinctive style has evolved over the years and draws from the vibrancy of European and African folk music to capture an essence of funk music for hip-hop enthusiasts. With an expansive style of sounds, his compositions exhibit an electrifying energy built around headnodic percussion and melody.

Catoni has been on an impeccable run of late, dropping new singles and EPs seemingly every week in 2023, including the brilliant reinterpretative album of French classics Gainsbourg: Volume One and Steinway Tunnel EP.


Nautilus, a Japanese jazz / funk band headed by drummer Toshiyuki Sasaki, along with Shigeki Umezawa on bass and Mariko Nakabayashi on keyboards, has a unique and evolving style. Embracing elements of jazz, funk, disco, soul, and a noticeable touch of hip-hop, their music defines the modern “rare groove” sound, creating an intriguing blend of modern and classic influences.

Their distinct sound struck a chord with audiences during their first European tour in May 2023, stirring such a buzz among concert-goers that the band seized the opportunity to capture their live sound on record at the illustrious King Georg venue in Cologne, Germany. The resulting album, Live at King Georg, gave tour attendees the chance to relive the unforgettable live performance and gave those who missed the concert a chance to experience Nautilus’s enthralling live stage presence vicariously.

Doctor Bionic

Hailing from Cincinnati, Doctor Bionic is a collective of renowned studio virtuosos committed to the art of creating memorable instrumental pieces. Guiding their groundbreaking endeavor is illustrious producer Grimez, celebrated for his contributions to artists like 50 Cent, Talib Kweli, and Kool Keith, among others. A key to Doctor Bionic’s sound is their quest for a distinct sonic signature, a pursuit driven by Grimez’s expert recording and mixing craft.

Drawing on an eclectic mix of musical influences, Doctor Bionic’s compositions include hard drums, deep basslines, atmospheric organs and piano harmonies combined with sharp guitar riffs. Their tracks come alive with the use of horns and an array of other instruments, lending an otherworldly, lo-fi aura to their music that’s sure to appeal to followers of El Michels Affair, Gaslamp Killer, and other artists on this list.

E. Lundquist

Under his artistic alter ego E. Lundquist, Eric Borders (known for his work as Captain Supernova) introduces an experimental fusion of funk and jazz that’s heavily influenced by the ’70s library music scene. His 2021 debut release under the E. Lundquist moniker, Multiple Images, marked Borders’ foray into creating a library style record imbued with the sci-fi-and-jazz-infused vibes he’s renowned for.

E. Lundquist’s tracks unfold with everything from blaxploitation and 70s funk to cinematic themes and contemporary jazz fusion, encapsulating a medley of inspirations and sounds. For an intro into E. Lundquist’s sound, check out his 2024 album Art Between Minds.

The Offline

The inception of The Offline can be traced back to the moment when composer and photographer Felix Müller embarked on a transformative journey along the Atlantic coastline in the south of France, armed with an analogue camera to capture scenes from his trip on film. Upon returning to his native Hamburg, Müller seamlessly transitioned from visual storytelling to musical composition, crafting songs that served as the auditory complement to his visuals.

Following a string of early singles, the release of his debut En clair-obscur EP and debut album La couleur de la mer have firmly established The Offline as a rising staple in the cinematic soul and funk scenes. Stylistically, The Offline’s music evokes the nostalgic allure of ’60s and ’70s film scores, traversing experimental themes infused with psychedelic expansiveness, retro soul, and hip-hop influences inspired by The Offline’s extensive record collection.

Sven Wunder

The musical genius of Swedish composer Sven Wunder has captivated listeners with his meticulously crafted and effortlessly groovy compositions. Wunder came onto the scene and left an indelible mark with his 2019 album Eastern Flowers, swiftly followed by the equally enchanting Wabi Sabi in 2020 and Natura Morta in 2021. His musical style resonates across genres, attracting fans from the realms of psych and prog, folk, funk and jazz enthusiasts, as well as discerning hip-hop connoisseurs who appreciate the seamless fusion of influences in his work.

A virtuoso in the realm of jazz, Sven Wunder and his band mates blend elements of jazz, funk, and soul with various instrumental traditions from around the world. Whether drawing inspiration from the Anatolian music tradition for Eastern Flowers or capturing the essence of Japanese music in Wabi Sabi, Sven Wunder’s musical journey is a testament to his global exploration and a celebration of the rich diversity of sounds he seamlessly incorporates into his compositions. More recently, Wunder’s composition “Hanami” was repurposed as a track on Detroit rapper Danny Brown’s 2023 album Quaranta.

Pu Poo Platter

In the expansive realm of Brooklyn’s funk scene, Pu Poo Platter emerge as a distinctive force, echoing the groove-centric stylings of fellow funk bands like Surprise Chef, The Pro-Teens, and El Michels Affair (more on them later in this list), but with a nuanced fusion of jazzy funk, soul, and ethereal vibes that sets them apart. Their music transcends the mere novelty of reinterpreting past styles; instead, Pu Poo Platter’s approach is a sophisticated homage to the enduring legacy of funk and soul, embellished with discernible hip-hop sensibilities.

The resonance of their 2023 album, A Chilling Winter Night | 夜​食​堂​駭​人​事​件, serves as a testament to the band’s artistry, showcasing an adept ability to seamlessly interweave diverse musical styles while upholding a singular, cohesive vision. The musicianship displayed throughout is nothing short of extraordinary, with a captivating blend of horns and keys, intricate guitar work, and an equally mesmerizing rhythm section. Pu Poo Platter’s musical prowess demands attention, solidifying their status as a formidable presence in the contemporary funk landscape.

Whatitdo Archive Group

Diving deep into the sonic realms of mid-century exotica and library music, the Whatitdo Archive Group are a fascinating funk band that transcends the boundaries of mere homage. With a harmonious fusion of pop, folk, world music, and vigorous funk, this mysterious recording collective has cultivated a dedicated following among crate-diggers and aficionados of musical oddities since their emergence from the high deserts of Reno.

The group’s journey began with the lo-fi deep-groove demos of Shit’s Dope, released quietly in 2015, which quickly gained traction across the internet, earning acclaim from collectors and DJs worldwide. Their “Whatitdo Wednesday” residency in Reno marked a pivotal turning point in the band’s trajectory, drawing attention from accomplished jazz musicians and evolving into a unique blend of live performance and obscure performance art. More recently, Whatitdo’s 2023 album Palace Of A Thousand Sounds received widespread acclaim, including being named one of Endless Crate’s Best Albums of 2023.


The musical tapestry woven by funk band The Ironsides unfolds as a transcendent cinematic journey, where sweeping strings and horns converge to craft a sublime listening experience. Their full-length debut album, 2023’s Changing Light, was one of the best of the year and stands as a testament to the collective prowess of this Bay Area ensemble. The album seamlessly fuses classic psych-soul sounds with expansive orchestral arrangements imbued with a bit of hip-hop. In every note and arrangement, the collective’s dedication to evoking the emotive power of vintage cinema is palpable, making Changing Light as an entrancing testament to the band’s artistry and a captivating addition to the contemporary psych-soul repertoire.


In 2018, composer and multi-instrumentalist Pierre Chrétien unveiled his brainchild Cinephonic as an avenue to showcase the cinematic compositions he had been quietly crafting between his leadership roles in prominent groups like The Souljazz Orchestra, Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, and Slim Moore & the Mar-Kays. Rooted in the timeless allure of classic film, funk and library music, Cinephonic’s music seamlessly blends elements of cinematic soul, psychedelic rock, and spiritual jazz. The result is a rich, evocative, and complex soundscape, skillfully juxtaposing intricate compositions against hip-hop-adjacent backbeats—a sonic journey akin to an epic soundtrack for a film that exists solely in the realm of imagination.

Cinephonic’s 2023 sophomore release, Visions, stands as a modern funk tour-de-force. This intriguing concept album is a kaleidoscopic exploration of ancient medieval and baroque themes, refracted through a modern prism of soul, jazz, and psychedelia. The expansive sounds of Visions unfold through the skilled orchestration of a massive fourteen-piece ensemble, capturing the essence of each note and nuance meticulously on analogue reel-to-reel tape. Chrétien’s prowess as a composer and conductor shines through, creating an immersive musical experience that invites listeners into a world where the echoes of the past resonate with the innovation of the present, marking Cinephonic as a captivating force in the realm of contemporary cinematic funk music.

Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band

Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band are a mysterious steel pan outfit hailing from Hamburg, Germany who have amassed a cult following around the globe by covering songs that are iconic and known by all and making them their own. They first burst onto most people’s radar in 2016 with a stellar cover of 50 Cent’s “PIMP” that featured neck-snapping drums and transformed Mr. Porter’s iconic melody into an island affair that soundtracks summer parties to this day. With a slew of classic 7”s and two critically acclaimed full length albums, BRSB set a high bar for themselves, one they pushed even higher with their latest offering., Expansions, which features original material and covers of hip-hop luminaries like J-Dilla, east coast rap greats Jay-Z, Nas, and more.

Related Reads: Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band – Expansions Album Review

Karate Boogaloo

You’re bound to notice a unifying factor in many of the acts features in this list – Melbourne. Spearheaded by acts on the College of Knowledge record label, Melbourne has quietly became the epicenter for a particular brand of breakbeat-centric funk for hip-hop heads. Case in point – Karate Boogaloo, a Melbourne-based quartet who take funk from the past and mix it with hip-hop from today. KB have released a slew of hip-hop style singles and albums since 2016, including a series of three fantastic mixtapes that cover and reinterpret songs that were used as sample material to create some of hip-hop’s most iconic beats. While the music is consistently groovy and headnodic, part of the fun of listening to KB’s music is trying to identify the samples they cover. Highly recommended for hip-hop nerds and fans of groove-heavy funk alike.

Related Reads: Karate Boogaloo – KB’s Mixtape Vol. 3 Album Review

El Michels Affair

With their debut album Sounding Out The City, El Michels Affair captured the attention of listeners in 2006 with soul-drenched instrumentals, funky bass lines and a jazzy live urgency. Led by the vision of bandleader Leon Michels, the lo-fi, warm recording aesthetic of Sounding Out The City led to a live show backing Raekwon and to later shows with several other members of the Wu-Tang Clan. The Wu-Tang shows would prove to be a foundational stepping stone for El Michels Affair’s second and third LPs, Enter the 37th Chamber and Return To The 37th Chamber, instrumental tribute albums that covered iconic Wu-Tang beats and their source material. While the band’s stature grew, so did the industry’s interest as the group caught the eye of, and was sampled by, a host of hip-hop artists, from Ghostface Killah and J Dilla to J. Cole and Travis Scott.

Related Reads: El Michels Affair – Yeti Season Album Review

Surprise Chef

Formed at the end of 2017, Surprise Chef have grown into a progressive funk band unlike anything else emerging from within the fertile, creative, and supportive Melbourne music scene. With a diverse range of musical influences, Surprise Chef draw from different sonic inspirations to weave a unique, raw sound that’s still recognizably their own. Each of the tracks on their two excellent albums, All News Is Good News and Daylight Savings, pulsate like a blood rush to the head, yet show the perfect amount of restraint to leave you bobbing your head, taking you on a cinematic soul journey that’s the perfect blend of retro-hip-hop and soul, albeit with a psychedelic twist. Their distinctly crafted soundscapes propel fine groove-based instrumental music that dips its toes into synthesized ambience while letting drums and bass lead the way, with a gentle nod and wink in the direction of 70’s inspired jazz-funk.

Menahan Street Band

Menahan Street Band (MSB) has been at the epicenter of New York’s fertile and flourishing music scene for nearly a decade. They have performed shows on stages all around the world, released three critically acclaimed albums, and most notably, backed the late soul singer Charles Bradley. They’ve also carved out a unique funk niche by mixing a musical gumbo that’s part Curtis Mayfield, part Mulatu Astatke, and part Ennio Morricone. Their groove-heavy sound has been sampled by the likes of Jay-Z, Black Star, Kid Cudi, and many more.

Related Reads: Menahan Street Band – The Exciting Sounds of Menahan Street Band Album Review

The Diasonics

If you’re a hip-hop head, then you need to check out the Diasonics. This instrumental funk band from Moscow was only formed in 2019 and they’ve already garnered a cult following by releasing an impressive array of their own singles and other various projects on well known funk labels like Record Kicks. The band’s music, dubbed “hassar funk,” is a lively mix of funky soul, psych, eastern melodies and hip-hop. Their debut album Origin of Forms is stuffed with sample-based grooves that blend funk basslines, groovy guitar riffs and psychedelic keys that transport you back to the late 60s – early 70s.

Related Reads: The Diasonics – Origin of Forms Album Review

The Pro-Teens

Between the burgeoning cinematic soul scene and old school funk/soul fusion, Melbourne-based The Pro-Teens are one of the best funk bands to listen to if you’re a hip-hop head. With band members taking on pseudonyms like ‘Dead Honest’ Dean Amazing” and “Libby Clique-Baite,” they craft incredibly fun and unbridled funk music that’s firmly tongue in cheek. On their debut album, I Flip My Life Every Time I Fly, the band slyly marries the soul/funk roots of sample culture with the principles of boom-bap hip hop. Inspired by the cinematic soul of Marc Moulin, the colourful comic stylings of MF DOOM and Kool Keith and the dark exotic flavor of Gravediggaz, the band incorporate Galt MacDermot’s funky beats, Richard Evans’ whip-crack tempo and bop on their phantasmagorical journey, crafting a patchwork of vivid instrumental textures and moods straight out of a movie. For MF DOOM fans, The Pro-Teens recently dropped a 45-inch covering some choice cuts from the masked villain himself.

Related Reads: The Pro-Teens – I Flip My Life Every Time I Fly Album Review