Five Fingers Of Funk share new single & video “My Mom’s Prius”

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Photo by Caitlin Justice Redd

Portland-based hip-hop band Five Fingers of Funk is pleased to share their new single and video “My Mom’s Prius.” The song is the latest single to be released from the band’s forthcoming Portland Say It Again out May 5 on Kill Rock Stars (pre-order). The song debuted today at Ghettoblaster and will be on all streaming platforms on Wednesday for any playlist shares (pre-save).

On the video & song the video director and Five Fingers of Funk band member Pete Miser says:

My Mom’s Prius is an earnest autobiographical song inspired by visits home to Portland, OR after I moved to Brooklyn, NY. I would stay at my mom’s house and borrow her car to go meet up with the homies. I couldn’t help but notice the look of envy on the faces of my boys when I pulled up next to their low riders and Lambos in her stock hybrid… that look was envy, right?”

The backing track for ‘My Mom’s Prius’ was originally a melodramatic song called ‘Man In The Middle’ that the Fingers recorded circa 1997. We were working on our second album and I was in the peak of one of my many tortured “no one understands my struggle” periods. A little voice told me that the song wasn’t worthy of a final vocal recording (let alone a mix) so it languished on a 2-inch Ampex reel in my mom’s basement for years and years.

In 2012 my mom passed. In her will she stipulated that her Prius be sold and the proceeds go to the First Unitarian Church of Portland. Additionally, she wanted her house to be sold with the proceeds benefiting Outside In, an organization that she volunteered for that provides services for homeless teens. That meant that my brother, Chris and I had to clear her house out and ready it for sale, which meant I had to do something with the Ampex reels. I found a studio in Portland that could transfer the analog audio to digital files. I went ahead and digitized everything I had. Fast forward to my pandemic isolation of 2020 and out came those old recordings and this backing track.

The concept of the song came from visits home when I’d touch down on the turf in mom’s whip. I even remember a time when I went to pick up Cool Nutz one day. He looked at the Prius and politely said ‘let’s take my car.’ Nothing sits at the intersection of Portland and my mom more than a Toyota Prius. Shout out to the town and to her. I tip my hat to both.

Portland Say It Again marks Five Fingers Of Funk’s first release with the original members since 1998. The 10 song album documents the ironies of being a grown up in the young man’s game of hip hop. Listeners are treated to a return to the funk including the Fingers three-piece horn section and DJ Chillest Illest on the mic and turntables. Also featured are guest appearances from Cool Nutz, Jumbo (of the Lifesavas), Bosko, and Dres from Black Sheep.

Five Fingers Of Funk began as a five-piece backing up MC Pete Miser but quickly exploded into a ten-man behemoth including a three-piece horn section and DJ Chillest Illest on turntables. The band established itself as a major draw at Portland music venues through its energetic shows that inspired writer SP Clarke to report “if you can’t party to this shit, you must be dead.” By playing alongside indie rock mainstays such as the Dandy Warhols and Heat Miser, the Fingers bridged the gap between Portland’s alternative movement and its blossoming underground hip-hop scene ushering in an era in which local hip-hop was showcased in downtown venues for the first time.
These days, rappers performing with live bands barely raise an eyebrow. Thirty years ago, it was all but unheard of, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, a region synonymous with indie rock and grunge. In 1992. as a collective of twenty-somethings, Five Fingers Of Funk came together to experiment with a sound at the intersection of James Brown style Funk and lyrically driven hip-hop.

By the late-nineties, the band had expanded their reach from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine and everywhere in between. The band remained fiercely independent, self-releasing three full-length albums and sharing stages with Funk legends Maceo Parker and Bootsy Collins as well as hip-hop icons Run DMC, De La Soul, and another live hip-hop band coincidentally founded in 1992, The Roots.

Unceremoniously, Five Fingers Of Funk eventually split up over the predictable politics that come with ten young men touring in one van for years. With the perspective of time and individual musical accomplishments, the band has reunited to release Portland Say It Again on its new label home Kill Rock Stars this spring.