What’s that Smell? It’s Funk! By Alana Edmond

What's That Smell? It's Funk!
Alana Edmond

What is it?

Funk is an upbeat, rhythmic genre of dance music noted for its use of syncopated  basslines, electric guitar and drums. 


Funk originated from African-American Communities in the 1960s. It is largely derived from soul, jazz, and R&B. James Brown was the pioneer of Funk music, in which his band established the “funk beat” through syncopated, aggressive rhythms. 

Popularity & Notable Artists

Funk gained popularity in the 1970s thanks to James Brown’s musical style. Other groups such as Sly and the Family Stone, The Ohio Players, and Kool and the Gang. Even though funk was a danceable genre, the lyrics often served as social commentary.  For instance, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5 criticized Nixon’s presidency on the song “You Haven’t Done Nothin” when singing, “Why do you keep on making us hear your song, Telling us how you are changing right from wrong, ‘Cause if you really want to hear our views, You haven’t done nothing.” This song talked about the lack of attention to inner-city black communities. George Clinton and his Band Parliament-Funkadelic are also pioneers of funk, introducing the genre to electric elements as well as science fiction and psychedelic culture. 


Social Implications and Influence

Funk’s popularity made it the top Black Musical genres of the 70s. Because of this, many different genres integrated funk elements. For instance, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock integrated funk into Jazz, pioneering Jazz Fusion. Additionally, the danceable genre of Disco included many funk elements. Funk also helped shape the genre and subgenres of Electro through the sampling of Funk songs. Hip-hop especially used funk beats as samples, such as Biggie’s song “Big Poppa” which sampled the Isley Brothers. Moreover, West coast rap pioneered a subgenre “G-Funk” which was used samples of funk, especially George Clinton’s work. An example of this is Warren G and Nate Dogg’s song “Regulate” 


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funk
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Clinton_(musician)
  • https://www.britannica.com/art/funk

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