Let’s have a look at one more entry on the Huffington Post’s 100 Best Canadian Songs Ever before we turn our attention back to the Glasgow scene for a spell. We’re looking at the fine talent from Canada in this blog, alongside the music we encounter while on the road. It’s a real mashup, and good fun.
At #98 on HuffPo’s charts we find an early-90s R&B group called Bass is Base, with their slow-burning breakthrough hit,”Funkmobile.” Formed in North York, Ontario in 1993, the group features Chin Injeti on bass, Ivana Santilli on keys, and MC Mystic (Roger Mooking) on percussion. Injeti and Santilli sang, while Mystic contributed rap vocals.
“Funkmobile” appeared on the band’s first, independent, record, First Impressions for the Bottom Jigglers. The album sold 30,000 copies, “Funkmobile” became an underground hit, and the group went on to win the Juno Award for Best R&B/Soul Recording in 1994. On its strength the band was awarded a contract with A&M Records, who were looking to expand their roster of urban artists.
In 1995, they released Memories Of The Soulshack Survivors, which in essence was a re-tooling of their first record. It received praise particularly for its positive messages in a genre of music often rife with violence, crassness, and negativity.
In 1996 the group released “I Cry,” which reached the Top 20 in Canada, and thus ended their run as a band.
I had the pleasure of watching Santilli perform as a solo artist over a number of years at the Jazz Winnipeg Festival in the late-90s and early oughts. She was a phenomenal performer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, adeptly playing the keyboard and trumpet in turn. She has released three albums to critical acclaim.
Ijelti works as a producer and bassist, while Mooking is an executive chef and co-owner of Eatalia and Nyood in Toronto, and hosts a show on the Food Network called Everyday Exotic.
In total, the band released two records, six singles, and two videos in its’ three-year career. They are catchy, creative, and uplifting; and while “Funkmobile” is indeed funky and offers some complex beats, I’m not sure that it’s worthy of a spot in Canada’s Best 100 Songs Ever. Indeed, “I Cry” would make for the more compelling entry, yet ‘catchy’ just isn’t enough to stand up against the weight of history and the myriad other truly great songs Canadians have made. (Aside: I have a lengthy list of Canadian bands that are amazing and worthy of praise, despite falling short of this list. We’ll look at those after we’ve done this countdown, but I believe that’s where Bass is Base should comfortably rest).
Bass is Base was a fun and funky band, but their impact has not extended meaningfully beyond those who might seek this style of music out. Its appeal and reach remains niche, which is not to knock it, but to say that I don’t believe it merits a spot in the Top 100. To my mind, its inclusion reinforces a Toronto-centric bias by the authors of this list.