Prepare To Get Your Groove On
The History of Funk
“Funk is the absence of any and everything you can think of, but the very essence of all that is. And saying that, I’m saying funk is anything that we create in our minds that we want to do, what we want to be, but we don’t have the resources.” — Bootsy Collins
Food For Thought
Let’s Funk It Up
Throughout time, music has been used as a way to connect people, express feelings, and tell stories. This week’s newsletters will highlight some of the most well-known and little-known musicians, music facts, and genres. Today’s theme: Funk.
We recently discovered a local band that incorporates some funky, groovy rhythms in their music.
Not only does the music make you want to get out of your seat and dance, but the lyrics also hit home. Most notably (and echoing the words of Bono):
“Joy is an act of defiance,
Love is the thing that provides it.”
- “On My Way” by Kiwano Sour
In a world trying to suck us into a narrative of fear, uncertainty, and doubt… in a world where our minds have been conditioned to live off the nourishment of negative feedback loops… in a world where the infinite is eternally chased while the finite lays unappreciated…
Joy truly is an act of defiance.
One form of music stands out among the rest for really embracing the joy of living.
No matter the topic of the song, funk music always seems to celebrate life for what it is — and no matter what, you want to get out of your seat and get groovin’. 🕺🕺
But where’d it all start?
Like with rock, pop, and hip-hop, funk originated from a mix of jazz, blues, and R&B.
It emerged as its own genre in the late ’60s when soul singer James Brown started experimenting with his music. His ’69 hit, “Cold Sweat,” is usually referred to as the first ever funk song.
(Side Note: Can we PLEASE bring back that puffy hair and super deep v-neck look… 😎)
So what separated funk music from the rest of the bumpin’ tunes of the time?
Funk is based on a unique onbeat/offbeat structure that originated in African music traditions. Using guitar riffs and bass lines, funk creates an intense groove. (More here.)
After James Brown, George Clinton is considered the architect of the type of funk we know today. His bands were Parliament and Funkadelic and their “P-Funk” style used distorted electric guitars and synthesizers to create a new type of sound.
In the 1970s, funk became mainstream and artists like the Commodores, Sly and the Family Stone, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, and Kool and the Gang, among others, grew in popularity. Around this time, disco music emerged, drawing strongly from frunk.
In the 80s, folks like Rick James and Prince took over the funk scene. After that, however, funk was mostly driven from the radio in favor of new pop and rock music. Even still, popular artists, like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Living Colour, Incubus, Outkast, and Gnarls Barkley, incorporated elements of funk.
Today, it’s argued that funk is dead, or at least, the funk of the olden days. There may never be another “Super Freak,” “Brick House,” or “Play That Funky Music White Boy”… but funk influence has certainly made its way into much of our modern music. (“Uptown Funk,” anyone?)
Funk subgenres, like electro-funk, boogie, funk rock, and funk jam, still inspire artists around the world.
Need to get your boogie on? Here are the best funk songs of all time according to Billboard.
Foundations of Funk: The Birth of a Genre
“Funk was born from the influence of many genres: jazz, R&B, soul, and African grooves. It existed in an early form in New Orleans since the mid-1900s. Over the decades it has influenced jazz, R&B and soul music in return, and it gave birth to the entire genre of hip-hop. But despite its multiple points of origin, funk is often traced back to the work of one man.”
Grab Those Dancing Shoes
Modern Tunes That Will Make You Groove
Funk might not be the same as it was, but here are some modern bands that carrying forward the groovin’ torch:
And for a throwback to the classics, check out this playlist: Funk Outta Here
Things Are Getting Stranger
The Stranger Things 3 trailer is here. On a scale from one to ten, it looks like an Eleven.
Sign Off ✌️
Awh, look at you! You made it through the week!
We hope you have a fantastic weekend! Don’t forget to hit us up on the Twitter with your music suggestions 👉 @TheMissionHQ.
This was originally published on March 22, 2019 as The Mission’s daily newsletter. To subscribe, go here.
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