Local DJ and HSU Communication Department Chair Maxwell Schnurer shows off a funk album in his hour-long talk on global funk music on Feb. 10 at the HSU Library Fishbowl. Schnurer described funk as a combination of revolutionary practice and a desire to get down. | Photo by James Wilde

Feelin’ the Funk at International Education Week

Breaking down the power and importance of global funk music

Breaking down the power and importance of global funk music

A few minutes into his talk on global funk music, local DJ and Humboldt State University Communication Department Chair Maxwell Schnurer stumbled into a definition of funk.

“If you want my definition of funk, that might be it: revolutionary praxis with a desire to get down,” he said.

Schnurer’s talk on Feb. 10 flowed quickly. His enthusiasm for the tracks he played trickled into the audience of about 20 students, who nodded and laughed along. But Schnurer later gave a more serious definition.

“I find global funk to be ethical, significant and real,” he said.

Alison Holmes, associate professor and the lead of the international studies program at HSU, facilitated the event. Holmes eagerly offered context to the presentation as part of HSU’s 20th Annual International Education Week. Schnurer’s talk was just one of 45 scheduled hours of material that over 1,000 students and staff were expected to attend.

“It’s a showcase for all the global things we do in the community,” Holmes said.

“I think that funk has a certain feeling. It makes you move and it makes you dance and it makes you feel all of these different things, but if you actually listen to it, the things that are being said are of importance.”

Skye Freitas, communication major and film minor

Near the end of Schnurer’s talk, he gave the audience a take-home message. Most music artists, he said, have been historically ripped off—especially artists of color. He urged students to pay artists for their work.

“Does that make sense? That ethically, as we move forward, we try to be aware of the politics of power,” Schnurer said. “And that often times means that we are going to have to pay up for information.”

After the presentation, Skye Freitas, a communication major and film minor, said she loved Schnurer’s presentation—Schnurer is her adviser—and gave a surprisingly passionate explanation of the importance of music.

“I think that funk has a certain feeling,” Freitas said. “It makes you move and it makes you dance and it makes you feel all of these different things, but if you actually listen to it, the things that are being said are of importance.”

Schnurer skipped across the globe with audio clips to give the audience a taste of different funk styles. The first stop: Nigeria and Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti’s song, “Pansa Pansa.”

“He hexes and challenges the Nigerian government at this level while being—literally at various points—a revolutionary and also a candidate for president of Nigeria,” Schnurer said.

“Honestly, this could be like an hour-long, three-unit course.”

Maxwell Schnurer, local DJ and communication department chair

The next stop on the funky foray was Brazil and the music of Tim Maia. In describing the Brazilian funk scene, Schnurer explained the underground spiritual game—or the use of funk music by artists to express their spiritual selves.

Schnurer called Maia’s album perhaps the greatest Brazilian funk album ever, but only after noting its joint inspirations of a heavy dose of LSD and a cult pamphlet.

“You know, those things I would maybe not be inspired by or take away from the Tim Maia story,” he said.

Schnurer flew the room to Japan to meet Haruko Kuwana, and then to India with a soundtrack from a compilation album, Pysch Funk Sa-Re-Ga! Schnurer said many funk tracks remain hidden as instrumental movie soundtracks. He finished with a short profile video on El Rego, a funk artist from Benin in West Africa.

Schnurer paused midway through the talk.

“Honestly, this could be like an hour-long, three-unit course,” he said. “If I were to criticize my own lecture I would say that there is something kind of disrespectful about name-dropping dozens of interesting global musicians without giving them all musical space.”

Rachael Thacker, another communication major, hadn’t taken any classes with Schnurer, but admitted she would attend just about anything he does for his interesting takes. Thacker knew little about funk.

“Just my first impression was that you can groove to it, you can dance to it and you can relax to it,” she said.

Thacker planned to ask Amazon’s Alexa to play some funk later.

A hand sprang up when the talk ended.

“Will you teach a class on this?” a student asked.

The group chuckled and Schnurer hemmed and hawed. He wasn’t sure.

While he pondered making a class out of the talk, Schnurer left the audience with an appropriately funky anecdote.

“Let me encourage that maybe it’s time to buy the like Thai funk box set for your brother for Christmas from Mike in the attic,” he said.

Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination

Major League Marijuana

Why I don’t think marijuana is everything it’s cracked up to be in baseball

Pigs Compost on Campus

CCAT tries to reduce HSU’s food waste footprint through new pig program