Top Soul/Funk/Disco Artists of 2020
We couldn’t be happier to present this year’s Top Soul / Funk / Disco Artists of 2020. Now in its third year, it is one of our more recent charts - and for good reason. It exists purely because of the increasing amount of high-quality releases courtesy of some of the most celebrated artists in House Music. Many choose to arc back to their roots, exploring slower tempos, creating music that’s geared towards a different kind of dancefloor. This is where we see producers having a lot of fun, expressing their more disco-inspired and funkier side and revisiting old classics as well as creating new ones. Soul / Funk / Disco represents music, and these are the music makers - read on and find out who made it into our top 50!
Known for: Qwestlife, Teni Tinks - Hit It Off (Extended Disco Version) Qwestlife, Bobby Saint - Shooting Star (Extended Mix) Qwestlife, Alena - Can't Stop (Extended Mix)
19. The Reflex
Known for: Norman Doray, Darren Crook - Sweet Freedom (The Reflex Revision - Extended) Double Exposure - My Love Is Free (The Reflex Revision) Instant Funk - I Got My Mind Made Up (The Reflex Revision)
Known for: Space Funk - A Love Like This (JKriv Extended Remix) Freeform Five, Carolyn Harding - Strength (JKriv Extended Remix) Studio 54 Music, JKriv, Adeline - Lovin' Is Really My Game (JKRIV Club Mix)
17. Seamus Haji
Known for: Seamus Haji, Kathy Brown - A Better Place (Extended Mix) Seamus Haji, Bryan Chambers - I Got You (Seamus Haji Extended Glitterbox Mix) Los Charly's Orchestra, Xantone Blacq - Fly Away (Seamus Haji Club Remix)
Known for: Dimitri From Paris, Aeroplane, Leela D - Can't Get Enough (Extended Vocal) Marco Faraone, Greeko - Armaghetton (Aeroplane Extended Remix)
Known for: The Salsoul Orchestra - Ooh I Love It (Love Break) Late Nite Tuff Guy Muscle Edit Timmy Thomas - Why Can't We Live Together (LNTG Upgreatz Edit) First Choice - Doctor Love (Late Nite Tuff Guy Hypnotizin' Groove)
Known for: Dimitri From Paris, Aeroplane, Leela D - Can't Get Enough (Exended Vocal) Sister Sledge - Lost In Music (Dimitri From Paris Remix 2018 Remaster) Skyy - Here's to You (Dimitri from Paris New DJ Friendly Classic Re-Edit)
13. Horse Meat Disco
Known for: Horse Meat Disco, Kathy Sledge - Jump Into The Light (Extended 12" Mix) Horse Meat Disco, Fi McCluskey - Love If You Need It Horse Meat Disco, Annette Bowen, Fi McCluskey - I'm You Dancing (Extended 12" Mix)
12. The Vision
Known for: The Vision, Andreya Triana - Heaven The Vision, Andreya Triana, Ben Westbeech - Missing (Extended Mix) The Vision, Ben Westbeech, Roy Ayers - Wasting (Extended Mix)
Known for: Opolopo, Angela Johnson - Stay This Way (Micky More & Andy Tee Mix) Yam Who?, Noel McKoy - Summertime (Opolopo Remix) Thommy Davis, Tasha LaRae, Sheila Ford - Hot Shot (Opolopo Remix)
Suitably considered the "Italian Masters" of real House Music they continue to maintain dancefloor energy without losing musical integrity. Responsible for a long list of successful productions over the years, 2020 has turned out another meteoric step forward for them and their label Groove Culture. One of the most exciting duos around as they jump from number 32 in the 2019 Soul Funk and Disco Artists to number 10 in 2020! These two have been hitting the productions hard and it’s evident from them having 5 top tracks in this year's top 200 Soul, Funk and Disco Chart. We were treated to some of the best Soul, Funk and Disco around with their prominent releases on their own imprint Groove Culture. ‘Raise it Up’ got us wanting more dancefloor activity with its prominent brass and clearly defined Disco hook. Then we had ‘Hold On To My Love’ with a smooth and silky vocal production, crowning the ascending strings. Their Jazz mix of The Sunburst Band - ‘New York City Woman’ is a stellar song that replicates the glory days of Disco. What a match made in heaven with Dave Lee (producer), Michele Chiavarini (keys), Julian Crampton (bass), Thomas Dyani-Akuru (percussion), Tony Remy (guitar), Pete Simpson (vocals), Frank Tontoh (drums) and Andy and Micky giving it their unique twist. Who could forget when the dynamic duo gave their take on ‘Stay This Way’ from Opolopo and Angela Johnson on Reel People Music, an incredible moment for all. Rounding out the year with a well placed position, we are already waiting in anticipation for another year ahead as we return to clubland and prepare to dance well into 2021..
Moplen had a great year of delivering incredible music to our ears! The italian DJ and Producer remixed some seriously classic tracks for labels including Salsoul, Westend, High Fashion. Still riding high off his remix with Soulfuric late in 2019 his star continues to shine. It’s no wonder you can find 10 of his tracks in 2020’s Top 200 tracks in Soul, Funk and Disco as he delivers dancefloor defining moments. Moplen, is broadly known for his remixes of House classics rework ‘Second Chance’ from The Shapeshifters and the iconic Kimberly Davis from Chic. Adding his distinctive drums to the extended remix, he carefully crafts a rhythmic Disco driven vibe that accentuates the authentic sweeping string section. Moving on to remix ‘Los Conquistadores Chocolates’ from Johnny Hammond, it doesn’t come any funkier than this number! This Jazz / Funk masterpiece will transport you directly to the 70s as an iconic track from the Loft (NYC) Moplen provides a modern club feel. There has been no stopping Moplen’s string of productions, as we’ve been treated to remixes of heavy Disco anthems from Delia Renee, Karen Young and Leroy Burgess. Bringing a new lease of life for these iconic tracks his skillset is clear. We can all expect to see another incredible year ahead for Moplen in 2021, so bring it on!
8. Yam Who?
Andy Williams aka Yam Who? Enters our Soul, Funk and Disco Artists of 2020 at a stellar number 8. The Midnight Riot label owner is renowned for delivering surefire Disco gems again and again. 2020 was no different and earmarked some incredible production milestones. This year we saw the collaboration between Andy’s Qwestlife alias alongside Tom Laroye, bringing their debut album to Glitterbox. ‘Prophecy’ encapsulates the boundless energy of their DJ sets in an exquisite 11-track collection. With highlights including previous singles like the joyous Glitterbox anthem ‘Hit It Off’ and instant party anthem ‘Give Me A Minute’. Album tracks ‘Universal Love’ and ‘Don’t Break My Heart’ could have been taken straight from the centerpoint of a 1970’s Disco scene. Featuring an incredible array of collaborators that range from Detroit legend Amp Fiddler, session vocalist to the stars Teni Tinks, Barbados’ Bobby Saint and the ubiquitous Sugarhill Gang, this album is a wonderful ode to the dancefloor and a record collection essential. Andy’s imprint Midnight Riot continued to go strength to strength with a number of killer remixes from the man of the moment. ‘Push Through’ provided 8 minutes of pure Disco bliss, with Andy’s extended remix featuring smooth keys with punctuated vocals. ‘Take Me or Leave Me’ was another firm favorite, standing out with this Funk inspired Disco stormer! If 2020 is anything to go by then 2021 is gonna be dripped deep in DISCO!
The Shapeshifters storm in as this year's number 7 in Soul, Funk and Disco. This dynamic act has sustained a successful career in House music for over 15 years now and 2020 put his productions firmly back on the map. A highlight in 2020 was when Simon Marlin, aka The Shapeshifters, reunited with CHIC's Kimberly Davis to bring us ‘Second Chance’. Delivering a track that took us straight back in time to the Studio 54 dancefloor and became an instant Disco anthem. The Shapeshifters Reprise delivers a slow yet dreamy build up that evolves into a heavyweight funk-fuelled bass, complimenting Kimberly Davis' punchy chorus. If that wasn’t enough, this year saw the much anticipated release of ‘Finally Ready’, featuring the unmistakable vocals of Emmy Award-winning singer, Billy Porter. Released on Glitterbox, ‘Finally Ready’ is a declaration of Pride, and breaking free from past traumas to take a chance on love. In his signature style, The Shapeshifters’ delivers cinematic strings and live horn sections that give a suitably theatrical backdrop to Billy’s unmistakable and powerful voice. Expertly crafted and brimming with emotion, the joyful message of ‘Finally Ready’ rings true throughout Billy’s lyrics, ready to create unforgettable dancefloor moments for many years to come. The Shapeshifters have continued to deliver production after production, and it comes as no surprise that he has 5 top tracks in the overall top 200 for Soul, Funk and Disco 2020. Congratulations and we cannot wait to see what’s in store next year.
6. John Morales
John Morales needs no introduction, one of the most recognizable names in Soul, Funk and Disco today. He has continued to forge forward producing some of 2020’s biggest Soul, Funk and Disco tracks, securing his well deserved place at number 6! Without a doubt one of his biggest releases this year landed him on Quantize Records. Revisiting the infamous Angie Stone ‘Wish I Didn’t Miss You’, this time with that extra special touch from the legendary DJ Spen with Tasha LaRae on vocals. He also found further success on Spen’s imprint remixing ‘Try Jah Love’ and ‘Hot Shot’ from Thommy Davis. John is widely known for his ingenious M & M Remixes, and these do not disappoint as they slide right to the top of his extensive repertoire of songs. A master of his craft, he knows how to give songs the midas touch, and his mixes of “Hot Shot" combine all the correct ingredients to make you dance. This year also saw Morales join Soul Clap Records with his remixes of ‘Find Your Way’ and ‘Drink You Up’ from Michael the Lion & Amy Douglas with a tightly produced EP, complete with silky and soulful vocals. What an outstanding year for John Morales, congratulations and we cannot wait to see what 2021 brings!
5. Louie Vega
It was without a doubt another storming year for the music man and master at work, Louie Vega. Dominating a number of our end of year rankings, it’s right here in Soul / Funk / Disco where Louie gets to flex his groove in the studio. He produced a number of gems including the likes of ‘Get On The Fun Train’ feat. Anane’s beautiful vocals on Nervous which brought that classic NYC funk to a collection of other interpretations by Todd Terry, Michael Gray & Mark Knight. ‘I Hear Music In The Streets’ saw the Grammy Award winner gather together the original members of the seminal New York based disco funk band, Unlimited Touch, and collaborate with them at Log Cabin Studio in Manhattan and his own Daddy's Workshop Studio in New Jersey to produce the 2020 edition. That’s how you do it! His ‘Expansions In The NYC Preview EP’ showed us where his head’s at for the upcoming album - a party for the dancers and music lovers. Tracks ‘Cosmic Witch’ feat. Anane, ‘A Place Where We Can All Be Free’ feat. Brown Sugah and ‘Harvest Time’ feat. Axel Tosca all provided that deeply hypnotic, mesmerizing feel that only Louie Vega can provide. Congratulations Louie, we can’t wait to see what you have in store for next year!
4. Danny Krivit
Smashing through the ranks from #34 last year is legendary NYC veteran DJ and producer, Danny Krivit. 2020 was a year of quality over quantity as he put out some well considered cuts and immensely successful remixes to widespread acclaim. Heavyweight imprints such as Defected, Toy Tonics, Glitterbox, King Street Sounds and Nervous were home to many standout cuts from the year, with 5 tracks making it to our overall Soul / Funk / Disco Top 200 and his outstanding remix of The Vision’s ‘Heaven’ feat. Andreya Trianaone landing the ultimate #1 spot. Other cuts include his remix of Jasper Street Co.’s ‘Paradise’, seeing Danny retain the title of ‘King Of The Edit’, his remix of Casbah 73’s ‘Love Saves The Day’ on Glitterbox, which is where his remix of Horse Meat Disco’s ‘Message To The People’ feat. Amy Douglas & Dames Brown also landed - marking a new chapter for the HMD boys. ‘Lookin’ So Good’ had hints of Prince’s flair and funk to it after Danny added his NYC magic to Namy feat. Ari De Leo’s Spirit Soul cut. His 7” edit of ‘Let’s Lovedance Tonight’ managed to stop time yet again as one of the most iconic grooves in existence, and the gift that keeps on giving. Toy Tonics was a fitting home to Danny’s excellent remix of Phenomenal Handclap Band’s ‘Let Out On The Loose’ - a wonderfully electronic, slower melodic feast which sounded like he had a lot of fun making, which is great, because we sure had a lot of fun listening. Thank you for the music Danny, here’s to 2021!
3. Dr Packer
What a year that was for Dr Packer, even for such an established and renowned remixer - 2020 delivered a vast array of Soul / Funk / Disco cuts and compilations and we just couldn’t get enough. He’s managed to score an incredible 27, yes, 27 tracks in the Top 200 Soul / Funk / Disco Tracks of the year - the most by any artist. Dr Packer’s music appeared weekly within our Hype and Weekend Weapons charts as well as those compiled by our guest DJs, sending his signature style far and wide with releases on Salsoul, Westend, Midnight Riot and his bumper ‘Different Strokes Vol.2’ on Glitterbox, not to mention some fantastic remixes on Soulfuric and Z Records. And. Breathe. That’s a lot of good music right there! Standout tracks and highlights included his glorious take on Ripple’s ‘The Beat Goes On’, his rework of Radfael Cameron’s ‘Let’s Get It Off’ and The Salsoul Orchestra ‘You’re Just The Right Size’ - all mega hot Salsoul releases of the year. He brought the funk to Soulfuric with his remix of Bobby D’Ambrosio feat. Lasala’s ‘Runaway Love’ and hit a home run with Z Records outing, ‘Let Me Be Your Fantasy’ - his take on The Love Symphony Orchestra’s upbeat soul-drenched disco groove. We can’t wait to find out what he’s got up his sleeve for next year!
2. Michael Gray
Yet another strong year for Michael Gray! Just one look across our best of 2020 charts and you’ll find him sitting firmly at the top of many other sub genres - but it’s right here in Soul / Funk / Disco where he had an especially strong 2020. As one of the most respected and talented artists in the global dance music scene, Michael continues to blow us away with 5-star releases and impeccably tight productions. Having landed several #1’s year alongside a number of successful releases on Nervous, Reel People Music, Midnight Riot, East Street and home label, Sultra Records - it was the year of dropping standout cuts such as the brilliant ‘MacArthur Park’ feat. Kellie Sae that showed music lovers that sometimes to go forward, you need to look back. He teamed up with Mark Knight for their mix of Anane’s new version of dancefloor classic ‘Get On The Funk Train’ which flew up the charts on Nervous. Michael brough things right back to basics with his extended remix of World Premiere’s ‘Share The Night’ before injecting some tempo into optimistic and feel-good cut ‘The Sun’ feat. The Melody Men on Altra Moda Music. He swung back into Nervous in spectacular style with his remix of Vicky D’s instantly recognizable ‘This Beat Is Mine’. ‘The One’ gave us one of his finest pieces of the year feat. RoRoe, a masterclass in Soul, Funk and yes, you guessed it - Disco! The magical Terri Walker sounded better than ever on his rework of ‘Feel Right’ and he offered up a gloriously soulful version of Bobby D’Ambrosio feat. Lasala’s ‘Runaway Love’ - his cover of the 1978 Linda Clifford classic, landed on Soulfuric with a hugely successful splash. 2020 was also the year that Michael Gray revisited monster 2004 classic ‘The Weekend’ bringing it up to speed with a number of new versions that should see it through for the next two decades. What. A. Year for one of the hardest working artists in House Music.
1. Dave Lee ZR
2020 really was a fantastic year for Dave Lee. It saw him celebrate the incredible 30 year milestone of Z Records - true veterans and flag bearers of excellent music. With nearly every release hitting the top spots in our charts, it comes as no surprise that he holds the #1 spot for yet another year. We saw remixes on the likes of High Fashion, Glitterbox and Salsoul and a whole host of other standout releases and BIG compilations such as the second volume of ‘Dubstrumentals’ - bursting with a whopping 30 cuts and unreleased versions. Dave strutted into the year meaning business with his glorious rework of Double Exposure’s ‘Everyman’ on Salsoul. Closer to home, Dave’s remix of ‘Reflections of a Disco Ball’ dropped on Z Records showing us how high the quality of production can go - crystal clear, spacious and dripping with sultry funk with Tanya Tiet sounding incredible. His JN Spirit of ‘77 Extended Mix of AC Soul Symohony’s ‘Manhattan Skyline’ either sparked nostalgia for some, or introduced others to the beauty of classic arrangements with soul - dance floor-proof and ready for 2020! ‘Perdoname’ was certainly one of the brightest cuts of the year; a sun-drenched, playful and upbeat number for the good times. All in a year’s work, that is, before signing out with his impeccable Dave Lee Disco Blend of Delia Renee’s ‘You’re Gonna Want Me Back’ which represents exactly what he is - the master of the disco blend. Congratulations Dave Lee - here’s to another incredible year ahead!