Here are two funky songs with the same title. Both songs pointed towards a shift in Black music. I can explain the difference in the two songs using Soul Train gifs, which is pretty awesome.
Here’s a gif that, to me, exemplifies King Floyd’s “Groove Me”. It’s dirty, backwoods funky. Which makes sense, because King Floyd was from New Orleans and “Groove Me” was recorded in Jackson, Mississippi and released on Malaco Records. So far, so Southern. Allegedly, “Groove Me” was recorded during the same sessions as another sweaty funk workout, Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff”. Both songs have gone on to a very long life as sample fodder. “Groove Me”‘s opening downbeat, followed by a spirited “UGH!” from Floyd, has found its way onto hundreds of records in the last thirty or so years. I’m pretty sure the mastermind behind the second “Groove Me” has used the first one a time or two.
Guy’s “Groove Me” came nearly twenty years after King Floyd stepped into a Mississippi studio. In that time, two major developments in Black music were the birth of hip-hop and the rise of the synthesizer. Teddy Riley was a key figure in both developments. The Harlem-bred prodigy was already in the process of making a name for himself as a producer for artists like Kool Moe Dee and Keith Sweat when he hit the charts with his own band, Guy. “Groove Me” was their very first single, and it was all Uptown flash. Aaron Hall’s church-honed vocals (reminiscent enough of Charlie Wilson that I originally thought “Groove Me” was a Gap Band song, as did many others) collided with Riley’s programmed beats, and the result was one of the first salvos in the revolution called “new jack swing”.
Here’s Rosie Perez, embodying what I feel is the new jack swing ethos. Streetwise, sexy, urbane and contemporary.
One song peeked its way out of the ’60s, the other pointed in the direction of the ’90s. One song was a child of the South, one came from the Big Apple. One song was wide collars and bell bottoms, the other was Dapper Dan and Cazal glasses. Both songs are still capable of rocking parties in 2019.