“Whatever the political circumstances, black folk have consistently lived in strikingly beautiful and uniquely innovative ways,” is the way Michael Gomez describes Black life in his book, Reversing Sail (Reversing Sail 184). This sentiment proves to be true when reflecting upon the plight of African Americans since their arrival in America over three centuries ago. As we have learned throughout the class, and in life in general, African Americans created the foundation on which most popular societal practices are based, regardless of what aspect one focuses. It is also apparent that Black people have done so continuously and successfully in the face of adversity.
Riding the bootstraps of the civil rights movement, the seventies was a time of unfiltered Black expression; it set the foundation for the free expression of Blackness there after. The seventies marked the decade of Funk. Generally, the connotation of funk is to be smelly, nasty, or of fungus; it is not something to be associated with. Metaphorically, Blacks have been the funk of society. As mentioned previously, Blacks take such adversity and create something beautiful. The previous decade was filled with soul music and gospel, as it accompanied the civil rights movement.
Funk is undeniable. It is repugnant, thick, and in your face- much like the music. Heavy in bass and downbeats and horns, funk is the strongest genre of all Black genres. It is relentless in its delivery. The strong rhythmic collection of sounds mimics the rejuvenation of African Americans after the civil rights movement. The vibrant, colorful, “feel good” feeling of funk music represents its people. The genre was unable to be commoditized because of its spontaneity and emotion; struggle can not be emulated.
Prominent groups of the Funk era include but are not limited to: Brick, Brides of Funkenstein, Brothers Johnson, Heatwave, Slave, Chic, Earth Wind and Fire, Cameo, George Duke, Patrice Rushen, Roy Ayers, Grover Washington, Dazz Band, War, Ohio Players, The Isley Brothers, Heatwave, Chaka Khan, and L.T.D.
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