What is Rare Groove ?

Jun 19, 2023

If you're a music lover, you've probably heard of the term "Rare Groove". But what exactly is it? In this post, we'll dive into the world of Rare Groove and explore its history, characteristics and influence on modern music.

What is Rare Groove?

The term "Rare Groove" was coined in the UK during the 1970s to describe a genre of music that was influenced by funk, soul, jazz, and R&B. It was characterized by its use of obscure, hard-to-find tracks that were not widely known or played on mainstream radio.

One of the defining features of Rare Groove was its emphasis on the groove or rhythm of a song. The beats were often funky and danceable, and the basslines were prominent and catchy.

The History of Rare Groove

Rare Groove emerged during a time of social and political upheaval in the UK. It was a genre that was embraced by black and white audiences alike, and it became a symbol of unity and inclusivity.

The music was played in underground clubs and on pirate radio stations, and it quickly gained a cult following. DJs like Norman Jay and Gilles Peterson were instrumental in popularizing the genre and bringing it to a wider audience.

During the 1980s, Rare Groove began to influence other genres of music, including hip hop and house. Artists like A Tribe Called Quest and Masters at Work sampled Rare Groove tracks in their music, and the genre continued to evolve and grow.

The Characteristics of Rare Groove

As mentioned earlier, Rare Groove is characterized by its emphasis on the groove or rhythm of a song. But there are other features that make it unique:

  • Use of obscure, hard-to-find tracks
  • Influenced by funk, soul, jazz, and R&B
  • Emphasis on basslines and beats
  • Danceable and funky

Another defining feature of Rare Groove is its use of improvisation. Musicians were encouraged to experiment and take risks, which led to some truly innovative and groundbreaking music.

The Influence of Rare Groove

Today, Rare Groove continues to influence and inspire musicians around the world. Its influence can be heard in genres like neo-soul, acid jazz, and trip hop.

Artists like Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, and Jill Scott have all cited Rare Groove as an influence on their music. And DJs like Mark Ronson and Questlove continue to play Rare Groove tracks in their sets, keeping the genre alive and relevant.


Rare Groove is a genre of music that has had a lasting impact on modern music. Its emphasis on the groove and improvisation, as well as its use of obscure tracks, has made it a unique and influential genre. Whether you're a seasoned music lover or a newcomer to the world of Rare Groove, there's no denying its power and influence.

Rare Groove
Norman Jay MBE
Lorraine King