Now 12 years since the release of her last album, the reigning Queen of Funk is grooving back into the spotlight with a fresh wave of gusto. Chaka Khan’s latest studio album ‘Hello Happiness’ is a mix of the star’s impeccable talent and a contemporary approach to funk, making it the perfect soundtrack to spend your days (and nights) dancing to.
Produced by DJ Switch, most notably known for being a member of EDM group Major Lazer, ‘Hello Happiness’ seeks to bring the nostalgia of Khan’s iconic 70s and 80s sound into the present with modernised and electronic beats. Weighing in at just 7 songs, the album is packed with plenty of punches that prove the Queen is not giving up her throne anytime soon.
The album starts with the title track Hello Happiness, a sparkling tune that celebrates Khan’s empowerment. The catchy hit has Khan saying goodbye to her sadness with the power of music and if you too feel blue, she promises that the dancefloor is your cure. And she’s definitely not wrong. The opening track sets the mood for the rest of the album and marks itself as being a piece of escapism. No troubles are wanted here, just funky footwork and exaggerated shimmies.
‘Hello Happiness’ is more of a reminder to Khan herself than to anybody else. After the death of former friend and icon Prince in 2016, Khan, who has struggled with a drug and alcohol addiction herself, said she needed some time to heal. Prince’s tragic death from an accidental overdose made Khan rethink her own addiction and she admitted herself into rehab to try and turn her life around. The album emerged from Khan’s period of growth where she realised the main theme of the album: to not take the little things so seriously. “Little things are important,” she says. “It is about the little things, but you just need to flow.”
And her happiness definitely is prominent. On tracks such as Like A Lady, Isn’t That Enough and Ladylike, Khan opens her heart to a special love in her life. Over sizzling disco beats and Switch’s irresistible production, Khan pours over the power of love and how she’s finally found what she’s spent so long searching for. By no means are the songs sappy ballads, but the heartfelt lyrics certainly aren’t lost under the bouncing rhythms – thanks to Khan’s powerful voice.
After a 12-year-long hiatus, ‘Hello Happiness’ feeds the thirst long-time fans had for new material and despite being controlled by modern producers, it is undeniably a Chaka Khan album. Although the beats are incredible and are basked in waves of nostalgia, the album’s best part is Khan herself. Her voice shines brighter than any musical production, as it should.