The Music

HELLO HAPPINESS

Chaka Khan returns with a renewed sense of purpose

BY PAUL V. VITAGLIANO

We’ve been losing so many of our musical icons and heroes the past few years, it’s been like a shock to the system. To lose both Bowie and Prince in 2016, and then Aretha Franklin last year, the truly great ones are leaving us way too soon. 

So when a legend like Chaka Khan drops a new album—Hello Happiness—there’s a palpable sense of gratefulness and appreciation going on. And for her first new set in twelve years, Miss Chaka has partnered with new label Diary Records (helmed by Major Lazer founder and producer Switch, who’s an ace in the underground electronic club scene) and returned with a renewed sense of purpose. 


This is classic Chaka with a fresh and fierce makeover. And let it be known those glorious pipes of hers have not diminished one iota.


But don’t you worry: she didn’t go and make some kind of desperately trendy electro banger record to keep up with the kids. Rather, this is classic Chaka with a fresh and fierce makeover. And let it be known those glorious pipes of hers have not diminished one iota. The set kicks off with the deliciously breezy swagger of the title track featuring a bassline that’s gonna clock your ass on the dancefloor. The string-laden Like A Lady feels like a teleportation back to the late ‘70s New York disco scene, as Chaka goes deep with one of the most powerful performances of her career. That’s something she also demonstrates with the retro-strut of the sultry, rhythmic Too Hot. Elsewhere, Isn’t That Enough and particularly Don’t Cha Know envelopes her in some truly sexy and down ‘n dirty chocolate F-U-N-K. And the bold but minimalist groove of Ladylike really allows her vocals to rule the roost. Also here to keep you dancing is last summer’s fantastic smash, Like Sugar

With its blending of soul meets funk meets disco sparkle, Hello Happiness goes down like a smooth shot of Courvoisier. As a songwriter, actor, author, philanthropist, entrepreneur and activist, Chaka has influenced generations of recording artists. And forty years on in her career, she remains relevant and so very necessary. No shade here, but will we be talking about Cardi B four decades from now? That’s doubtful!