Psychedelic funk (also called funkadelia or conflated with psychedelic soul) is a music genre that combines funk music with elements of psychedelic rock. It was pioneered in the late 1960s and early 1970s by acts like Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and the Parliament-Funkadelic collective. It would influence subsequent styles including '70s jazz fusion and the '90s West Coast hip hop style G-funk.
|Cultural origins||Late 1960s|
Following the late 1960s work of Jimi Hendrix, the music and drug culture of psychedelia began to have a widespread impact on African American soul and funk musicians. Black funk artists such as Sly and the Family Stone borrowed techniques from psychedelic rock music, including wah pedals, fuzz boxes, echo chambers, and vocal distorters. Producer Norman Whitfield would draw on this sound on popular Motown recordings such as The Temptations' "Cloud Nine" and Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." In 1970, Hendrix formed the short-lived trio Band of Gypsys, described as "ground zero" for psychedelic funk. By the early 1970s, the main elements of psychedelic funk were adopted as signifiers of "urban blackness" and incorporated into blaxploitation films.
In the 1970s, groups such as Parliament-Funkadelic developed this sensibility, employing synthesizers and acid rock-oriented guitar work into open-ended funk jams. Led by George Clinton, P-Funk would shift the genre away from song-form and toward groove and texture, emphasizing the abject elements of psychedelia in contrast to earlier psychedelic artists. The 1970s group War (with singer Eric Burdon) recorded in a psychedelic funk-rock style featuring prominent rhythm and horn sections, bass lines, and drum breaks, as well as lyrics protesting racism and police brutality. The 1974 album Inspiration Information by Shuggie Otis explored psychedelic funk and later received acclaim when it was reissued by the Luaka Bop label.
West African groups such as Blo and Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou played forms of psychedelic funk in the mid 1970s, both drawing on the Afrobeat of Nigerian musician Fela Kuti. A collection of 1970s psychedelic funk recordings from Ghana and Togo was released in 2010 as Afro-Beat Airways: West African Shock Waves by the Analog Africa label. Music from Nigeria's 1970s psychedelic funk scene was later documented on the compilation Wake Up You! The Rise & Fall of Nigerian Rock 1972-1977, released in 2016.
In the early 1970s, jazz artists such as Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock combined elements of psychedelic funk with urban jazz to pioneer jazz fusion. New wave band Talking Heads explored psychedelic funk, influenced by George Clinton and P-Funk, on a trilogy of acclaimed albums in the late 1970s. Subsequent artists would be influenced by the style including Prince.
In the 1990s, the popular psychedelic funk style known as G-funk emerged from the West Coast hip hop scene, represented by Warren G, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg. Many G-funk recordings sampled tracks by earlier psychedelic funk bands, most prominently Parliament-Funkadelic. The 1990s hip hop duo OutKast were also influenced by black psychedelic musicians such as Sly Stone and Clinton.
Examples of psychedelic funk from world music scenes have been collected on compilations issued on the World Psychedelic Funk Classics label. The 2016 album Awaken, My Love! by Childish Gambino borrowed the psychedelic funk sound of Clinton and Bootsy Collins, with Vice negatively describing it as "pure Funkadelic cosplay."
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