Menahan Street Band – “The Contender”

Bring the funk.

The Menahan Street Band, named after a street in Bushwick, Brooklyn where founder Thomas Brenneck lived at the time, is a funk band composed of Brenneck and musicians from other notable funk / soul outfits like the Budos Band and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. Though they came on the scene in 2007, their music feels like it’s straight outta 1967, sounding like a lost afro-funk relic by some super-obscure group which you stumbled on in a used record shop (Huh, there’s another group I dig who has that vibe too…). The band has a great chemistry and a relaxed, confident air, with a strong horn section, defiant guitars, and and some great vamping. Their 2008 debut, Make The Road By Walking, is a fine piece of work, a clutch soundtrack for a blaxploitation flick or for your ultra-smooth strut down a busy city street. The record is also pretty significant for its effect on hip-hop, with many of the tracks being sampled by artists like Kid Cudi50 CentKendrick Lamar, and Jay-Z. It’s a real trip to listen to this album as a hip-hop head because there are many moments you’ll recognize.

“The Contender” is my favorite listen from the album for its knowing, authoritative feel. The horns are punchy and on point at making this listen feel bold. Also, the break that concludes the track, with the dub-like feel and that fleet-sounding flute, is just terrific. Enjoy.

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