Remembering Jimmy Castor, the funk legend behind ‘Troglodyte’
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Really, all you need to do to appreciate the music of Jimmy Castor, who died in Las Vegas on Monday at the age of 64, is to scroll below or watch the proto-video for the Jimmy Castor Bunch’s freaky song ‘Troglodyte (Cave Man)’ from 1972, one of the weirdest, hardest funk jams you’ll ever hear. It kicks off with spoken word introduction, eases into a rhythm, shifts into drive and then just keeps going, one hard riff that moves through the track -- about a cave man looking for love -- while Castor barks out the story. If Parliament-Funkadelic were looking to outer space and the future for inspiration, kindred spirit Castor, who was making music at the same time, was digging into the prehistoric past.
Another way of appreciating the funk man’s legend is to pay attention to the samples. One of the foundational sources of early hip-hop and electronic dance producers, the music of Jimmy Castor Bunch, who at their prime in the mid-’70s were pumping jams that would soon become rap, is woven through the very essence of the music.
Those who used Castor’s music, to name but a few, include Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Eric B and Rakim, N.W.A., Big Daddy Kane, Jungle Bros. (the piano riff in ‘J Beez Comin’ Through’), Beastie Boys (‘Hold It, Now Hit It’ features a sample of Castor screaming, ‘Yo, Leroy!’). Castor’s ‘The Bertha Butt Boogie,’ a kinda-sorta sequel to ‘Troglodyte,’ makes an appearance in Ice Cube’s track ‘Friday.’ And Kanye West understood Castor’s allure, using the Jimmy Castor Bunch’s version of ‘I Just Wanna Stop’ to build his early track ‘We Don’t Care.’
The list goes on, but to fully appreciate the unsung music of a one-of-a-kind musician, dig into the vaults.
-- Randall Roberts