The Coup’s DJ Pam The Funkstress Has Passed Away

In an already challenging week, Hip-Hop has learned that it has lost another veteran artist. DJ Pam The Funkstress (aka Pamela Warren) has died. A founding member of The Coup, Pam would also work with Prince on tour in recent years. After surviving a critical surgery in the last month, the Bay Area-based DJ/producer passed away, according to several people close to her. The nature of Pam’s surgery and the cause of her death have not been made public at this time.

Thanks to her early ’90s role with Boots Riley (and E-Roc, for a period) in The Coup, Pam pushed the envelope both as a turntablist and as a woman in a co-ed group. Warren was a crucial element to the band, where she remained with Boots for more than 25 years and various personnel shifts. As with Jam Master Jay, DJ Premier, or DJ Jazzy Jeff, early Coup releases featured DJ solos demonstrating her skills and abilities.

In the years since the most recent Coup album, Pam found another funky association, through Prince. Just days before his April 2016 death, Pam told Pitchfork, “A friend of mine asked me to [a gig] in February. He said, ‘It’s a Prince after-party, and he requested a female DJ.’ I guess [Prince] really liked what he heard [by me]. From what I understand, he likes Funk, old-school classics. That’s up my alley…Then, when he popped up with a surprise show [in the Bay Area] in March, I DJ’d another after-party at the Great American Music Hall. He came up to me and said, ‘DJ, give me a scratch,’ and I scratched with him right there, him playing [guitar] over it. That was the first time we ever jammed together—no practice, no [rehearsing], just a connection that happened.”

Pam also participated in the same 1994 DMC West Coast battle that featured Bay Area peers including DJ QBert, Shortkut, DJ Disk, and DJ Melo-D. Her routine featured records by then-label-mate Lord Finesse, X-Clan, and Stezo:

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Throughout their run, The Coup has worked with Black Thought, Killer Mike, Spice 1, dead prez, and Del The Funky Homosapien. In the early ’90s, the then-trio was on the same Wild Pitch label as Main Source, O.C., and Ultramagnetic MC’s.

Earlier this week, another Hip-Hop figure, Reggie “Combat Jack” Ossé, died after a battle with colon cancer.

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Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to The Coup, the family, and fans of Pam The Funkstress.