I’m No Music Critic, But Jamiroquai’s ‘A Funk Odyssey’ and Macy Gray’s ‘The Id’ Are The Gems of 2001
2001 was quite a year in pop culture. It was an explosion of creative molasses that filtered the pipeline the same way it doesn’t anymore. It was the most miserable time for a twenty-something — who couldn’t function without the tools she presently never takes for granted.
My beloved grandmother passed away in the spring — and I spent the summer locked in a retail job that positioned me in a space where wealthy Manhattanites — drop hundreds for a ribbon skirt.
I was fucking a guy who was three years younger which felt oddly exciting — especially since I was under thirty. I was restless with ambition and the desire to channel the building blocks into the platters I’m currently serving with seamless adherence.
But, the web back in 2001 was only capable of the basic shit. It was cool as fuck to have a machine that could deliver information that used to require bus rides to acquire — but the limitations were starkly hopeful.
I still recall being huddled in my bedroom in the apartment I shared with my overly neat brother — trying to source the breaking news of Aaliyah’s plane crash. The article remained as is — until the major networks — officially confirmed the tragedy the next day.
Less than two weeks later — the 9/11 attacks hit the nation with fury — and I was stuck in a haze of disbelief.
I broke up with my boyfriend because the sex was stale and he wanted me more. I later went into a tailspin when the fall of 2001 overcame me on a Saturday afternoon when I was stuck in a cold spell and a commute across the river.
I unearthed the gems that would allow the rest of the year to be kind.
First off, Jamiroquai was the shit just and I was smart enough to appreciate it. I consistently followed the band’s exploits — and when A Funk Odyssey hit the U.S. market on the same day two planes pummeled The World Trade Center — I was unaware that I would be saved later.
I was nowhere near the scene of the crime — but even with the midtown crowd and the dazzling jewel in the sky — we were able to smell the burn.
Back in my day (I can’t believe I’m able to say that), it was customary to head over to Tower Records in downtown Manhattan for a dose of cultural semen that copulated with our senses to birth the obsession of our moment.
There wasn’t the retweeting of the work that was sourced without you — as you unearth what has already been announced — without the benefit of holding the product with urgency and paying for it — when you’re convinced its worth more than a sample.
I totally recall picking up A Funk Odyssey and feeling the height of joy when I got home and examined the pictorial jacket. We had to literally grasp what we were reading. Everything needed to be stroked. That was the only way to feel the pride of discovery that was initiated from being social.
Visiting my favorite joints always exposed what I needed — exactly when the season asked for it. My vintage wear never got old and weary — thanks to my Lower East Side bars of desire. You hunted for the shit you wanted — and never waited for the clicks of approval to validate your selection.
Just like I never waited to hear about Macy Gray. When On How Life Is dropped — I was intrigued. Then on the day that I desperately needed the reassurance that 2001 wouldn’t completely sour me — I stumbled upon The Id.
This was a masterpiece beyond comprehension. Every track yielded to the beats of experimentation that gathered the funk and jazziness of moods — to build a castle of tempos with almost operatic tendencies.
From start to finish — I was mesmerized at the audacity of an artist — showcasing her wares with astute brilliance that was almost off-putting.
When you’re immersed in rapid ecstasy — you begin to wonder how the anointed — remain humble.
It’s the artistry of it.
The reason I single out A Funk Odyssey and The Id is because both albums were released at a time when my dependency on Kate Bush was running thin and Aaliyah was too soon.
I needed the assistance of heavyweights who could swoop in and save me from the practice of mental mutilation.
Both albums drew heavily from rotations of playbacks to ensure that the beats were vibrantly rounded. The level of excellence is secured in the need to provide futuristic traces that are influenced by the tendons of dance.
Jamiroquai used A Funk Odyssey as evidence that the knowledge of mixes and homages to the 70’s — can really update the menu of sway. Macy Gray used The Id as the template of how funkiness can be rehearsed into an even more viable instrument of bliss.
I’m no music critic — but I won’t downplay how these two albums — saved my life and provided the reset — that was required more often than I would like to admit.
Years later — and nostalgia calls me to duty each time I lay back and face the ceiling — that is solid without cracks. As pop culture overturns every second that a tweet devalues it — I wonder how the youngsters of today — are navigating the folders of unoriginality — presented with sheer laziness.
I can’t come up with any artists of the present that have carved out the resume from twenty years. Maybe a handful will make the cut — but there is no doubt that I weathered the best and worst of times with a worthy soundtrack.
Again, I’m not the expert — but I’m certain A Space Odyssey and The Id — will enjoy lifespans that will outlive me — but not my words.
And that’s art.