Sly and the Family Stone, "Family Affair" (1971)
Sly Stone's final chart-topping single, the most successful of his career, was a dark, spare masterpiece of submarine R&B. The track's ingredients consisted of sister Cynthia Rose singing the title line through cupped hands, Bobby Womack on sinister wah-wah guitar, and Sly on everything else – most notably the Maestro Rhythm King MRK-2 drum machine, his "funk box." Womack suggests that Stone's uniquely distanced vocal resulted from a microphone placed beside his head as he lay spaced out on a piano. The song's enigmatic lyrics insinuate everything from a Woodstock hangover to fear of the Black Panthers. But as Sly told Rolling Stone upon its release: "Song's about a family affair, whether it's a result of a genetic process or a situation in the environment."