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Pam the Funkstress performs at Hiero Day 2017. Gabe Meline
Pam the Funkstress performs at Hiero Day 2017. (Gabe Meline)

Pam the Funkstress, Pioneering Bay Area DJ, Passes Away

Pam the Funkstress, Pioneering Bay Area DJ, Passes Away

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Pam Warren, aka Pam the Funkstress, a trailblazing DJ from the Peninsula, passed away on December 22 from organ failure according to friends familiar with her condition.

“It’s a massive loss for Bay Area hip-hop; it’s a huge loss for women in hip-hop; it’s a huge, huge loss for the DJ community,” says DJ Sake, a longtime friend of Pam’s who threw a weekly party with her in the late 2000s.

Pam the Funkstress with the Coup in the early '90s.
Pam the Funkstress with the Coup in the early ’90s. (Courtesy of pamthefunkstress.com)

Pam first rose to prominence as a battle DJ in the late ’80s and early ’90s, eventually going to become the DJ for the Coup, the Boots Riley-fronted political hip-hop group. The Coup was one of the first Oakland rap acts to gain national recognition with controversial releases like Kill My Landlord.

In the years that followed, Pam became an important fixture in Oakland’s hip-hop scene. But music wasn’t her only passion: She was also a talented chef — sometimes even bringing her famous mac ‘n’ cheese to friends’ DJ gigs — and went on to become the chef and co-owner of Piccadilly Catering in Foster City around 2009.

In recent years, Pam had been active in the Bay Area nightlife scene as a club DJ. After she played an afterparty for a Prince concert in 2016, Prince personally invited her to accompany him on tour; she was his tour DJ on his final concert series, A Piano and a Microphone, up until his untimely passing in 2016, earning her the nickname Purple Pam.


In November, Pam posted on social media that she was cancelling all upcoming shows due to undisclosed health issues. She went into critical condition shortly after, but underwent a seemingly successful organ transplant surgery that month.

News of Pam’s death spread like wildfire today on social media, with tributes pouring in from fans, artists, and hip-hop elders alike.

Pam’s family and the Coup have yet to release an official statement. We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.

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