Funk music! A music and sound that makes us wanna get down and dance and be “funky!” But what is the fundamentals and basics of the genre itself?
Funk is a genre that originated in African Americans in the mid/late 1960s. Black musicians created rhythmic, danceable new form of music through a mixture of soul, jazz, and R&B. Funk music has a strong focus on rhythmic groove of base line that is played by an electric bassist. In addition to that, a drummer/drumming part. What makes Funk different its focus on that sound, rather than the sound of melody or chord progression. Elements such as horns playing, rock-oriented horns, and vocal singing styles are all elements that also make Funk special.
Along with the its new evolutional sound, African Americans used Funk to unify culture. Funk music contained lyrics of pride! Black pride, unity, power, and optimism, all stories that Funk music told. Along with the good, Funk also told the whole story, including songs of disappointment and despair. Funk Music was so special because it was about the Black experience of dancing through the good and dancing through the bad.
Every modern day Black person has the 1960s and 1970s to thank for their Black pride. During that time, Black people finally started to shout their beauty and their worth. Funk did just that! The founding father of Funk music (the music we know and love) was the one and only James Brown. We credit him for his 1967 song entitled “Cold Sweat.” This song was the first we’d heard Funk music. The sound itself includes the focus on the bass and drum line. It also included the slap bass which is when the drummer plays the drums on a bass guitar. Classic Funk elements embodied James Brown Funk style.
Along with James Brown, we thank others for their contribution to the sound and impactfulness of Funk music. The fire that sparked black revolution and black music is the spark of George Clinton and his musical group, Parliament Funkadelic.
George Clinton created the Funk group/band, Parliament Funkadelic is 1968. Parliament was an African American band that sang a fun mesh of funk, soul, and rock. Many considered Parliament Funkadelics music to be the founders of “Pure Funk” music (aka P-Funk). P-Funk was Funk music sung by African Americans that choose to use their music to empower their community. George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic preached power, freedom, and black liberation. The group’s goal was to bring new sounds to African American streets. They wanted to diversify Black peoples music taste and get them involved in other sounds (like rock).
Parliament Funkadelic embodied musical creativeness and musical liberation. They were not like anyone else. How they dressed, how they acted, what they sung, was all so different than their counterparts. They showed that there wasn’t one way to be Black, but there was one way to authentically your Black self. They impact this message made on the Black community was undefeated. George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic filled stadiums and arenas of Black fans. They made music for their people. Although in some ways it sounded like classic white rock music, Black people were the ones in the concerts and the ones buying the albums. George Clinton and the Funkadelic’s concerts were artistic and about freedom. In some ways, crazy (but in a good way). The chaos of that band and what they sung, positively transformed our communities. The Funkadelic’s were experimental and music innovators that promoted blackness. They were almost seen as heros to the young African Americans in the 1970s.
Their most famous works include “Give Up the Funk” (1976), “Flash Light” (1978), and “Atomic Dog” (1982). Parliament Funkadelic’s success led them to Rolling Stone Magazine and the Top charts on the Billboards.
We (Black people) thank Funk music and people like George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic everyday for their outward, loud, and proud pride. African Americans in the late 60s and 70s used Funk to empower and transform themselves. Thankfully, we are loud and proud today because of their efforts. Funk music IS blackness and Funk music IS Black pride.