said "If you can describe it, it ain't funky".
However, we can tell you how it all began. So pull out your
notebooks class, we goin' back to the REAL "old-school".
a blend of tribal and gospel music, the "soul and blues"
movement began. Soul and blues grew and out of the two genres,
along with Jazz, rhythm & blues and urban music were
created. These music genres are the political and social
voice of inner city lower and middle class citizens. African-American
citizens pioneered the culture of these music genres.
the 20th century, other cultures began to accept these forms of
music, and began playing this kind of music as well. White America
welcomed Jazz and Blues, but for the most part, they blended it
with music that they already knew, such as gospel, classical,
and folk music. Many other types of music came as a result, like
ragtime, big band, swing, and doo-wop. Rock and roll then came
out of the blending of music, with Little Richard, Chuck Berry,
and Elvis Presley (to name a few), followed by the Beatles.
music took off in the early to mid 60's, with the "Motown
Sound": artists like The Temptations, The Four Tops, The
Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and others, along with Wilson
Pickett. 1965-1970 was the changing of times, not only in American
culture, but in music as well. James Brown, however, was the man
with the groove. James had the most outspoken voice in soul music
and had a groove that would be proven to be the future of funk
music. Many of his band members would go on to funk with many
emerging group called The Parliaments, had many similar traits
of a Motown group, but with a deeper, more groove oriented sound,
similar to that of James Brown. This "deeper, more groove
oriented sound" would prove to be the biggest thing in soul
music for the next 20 years and beyond. This sound would be later
improved upon and streamlined by Sly and the Family Stone, who
appealed to many different races of people and had a wide audience,
and featured a funky bassist named Larry Graham, who would keep
funkin' forever. Other artists, like Isaac Hayes had major influence,
but the biggest of them all was about to emerge with a new sound.
Clinton had created two new funk bands, one called Parliament
(formerly The Parliaments) and the other called Funkadelic. Parliament
had emphasis on horns and Funkadelic had emphasis on guitars,
but both had a deep, rhythm filled groove. Clinton's funk had
elements of all the following genres of music, all rolled into
one: rock and roll, jazz, urban, rhythm and blues, soul, blues,
black gospel, and symphonic/classical. Clinton had successfully
fused together all of these types of music to create funk, or
as he called it, P-Funk.
Clinton added musical powerhouses to his funk band, including
many members of James Brown's band "The JB's". Among
them were Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, and bassist William "Bootsy"
Collins. Bootsy's style of bass playing was very unique. Not only
was he a slap bassist, he also used a synthesizer to create a
sound called "the space bass", which would be used in
disco and other music. The funk mob would continue through the
70's and 80's, bringing the P-Funk with songs like Flashlight,
Not Just Knee Deep, One Nation Under A Groove, P-Funk (Wants To
Get Funked Up), and Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Give Up The
Funk), and many, many more, including Clinton's 1982 release "Atomic
Dog" which is still a club favorite to date.
Rubber Band released many albums as a side project of the
P-Funk mob, and went on to help produce Zapp, which was a
Dayton, Ohio band featuring Roger and Zapp Troutman. The Zapp
sound was the pioneering sound of electrofunk, donning synthesized
drum beats and loops, a vocoder (talk box) on many songs,
and even envisioned the internet becoming a place where people
could meet in the song "Computer Love". Zapp had
many other elecrofunk songs, including the classic 1980 release
"More Bounce To The Ounce" that would be an inspiration
to many hip-hop and R&B artists in the future.
the mid to late 70's, Rick James began to funk the world with
his party music. James was known for his discofunk song "You
And I" in the late 70's and the major hit "Superfreak"
in the early 80's. Rick James' fun and sexy style of music,
blended with the dance grooves of the times, was a major influence
to many different races of people.
by far, the most influential artist to all people in regards
to funk and dance music, was Prince. Prince released his first
full-length record in 1978, titled "For You", and
from there would go on to blend many styles of music together
into a danceable and soulful presentation of art. His self-titled
release "Prince" was funky and sexy, but without
talk of drug use or "sexploitation". The album artwork
featured him riding nude on a white horse, which was very
controversial to the media. This controversy continued, and
Prince released "Dirty Mind" in 1980, "Controversy"
in 1981, and "1999" in 1982, and many, many more
since then that have charted #1 hits.
Mind has been said to be one of the most musically influential
albums of the last 50 years (from SPIN and Rolling Stone magazines)
and many of his other albums have been added to that list. Prince
was the only artist to blend all of the previous genres (that
contributed to funk) together with many other genres of music,
like disco/dance, European/new romantic, new wave, folk, techno/electronic,
Latin and world music, and hip-hop. This new genre of music that
emerged from Prince' unique blend was called New Funk. As the
generations went on, many musicians of all colors started listening
to the music of the original African-American pioneers and were
mainly influenced by them. However, Prince was one of the few
remaining artists who continued the traditions of previous soul
Political messages in music were very rare to be heard in mainstream
music and on the radio. The social revolution that the soul, funk,
and R&B artists of the 60's and 70's had worked so hard to
create was dying. Some disco funk supergroups like Chic (they
still to this day have the #1 selling single of all time on Warner
Brothers with "Le Freak") who were successful in the
late 70's and early 80's had since faded. Bernard Edwards and
Nile Rodgers of Chic went on to produce big pop/funk artists like
Madonna. However, the new political leaders of the Reagan generation
seemed to stifle social music (especially music that uplifted
and educated the lower and middle classes; disco and funk) from
becoming well known by the mass public.
however, was able to creatively express it in a way that even
appealed to his political and social adversaries. Prince continued
on the traditions of the social revolution, and many of his
friends joined him, like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, The Time
and Morris Day, Paul Peterson (a.k.a. St. Paul), other artists
from Minneapolis and many other artists worldwide. Prince
had bands titled "The Revolution" and to date "The
New Power Generation".
But even as hip-hop grew in the 80's, there was no true positive
and uplifting message that gave the people a reason to believe,
and a groove that they could truly dance to- other than Prince.
Sure, the artists of old, like George, Bootsy, Sly, James Brown,
and many others continued on in bringing the funk, but failed
to receive attention from major media outlets. Society had lost
many of the musical leaders since 1970. Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley,
Bob Marley, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Miles Davis, Curtis Mayfield,
Roger Troutman, and Eddie Hazel, Rick James, to name a few, had
all passed away years too soon. So, needless to say, funk, and
the social musical revolution, was not what it used to be.
Hip-hop and rap was the closest thing to the 70's music revolution
that existed through the 80's and 90's. Hip-hop artists sampled
many of the soul and funk legends by adding parts of older songs
into their own music, or looping instrumental parts of old funk
and soul songs and adding heavier drum beats and rhythms to it.
The closest to funk in the hip-hop movement was Digital Underground,
led by Shock G. 2Pac Shakur came out of Digital Underground. George
Clinton had officially branded Digital Underground as "Sons
of the P". Other good groove oriented groups like Jamiriquai
came around every now and then, and it would be fair to say that
many artists have at least some elements of the original funk
and soul in their music, but there was no organized movement.
Recording Industry Association of America has started arresting
and fining people for downloading music online, making George
Clinton's statement "funk ain't no sin, and no we won't go
to hell, it's just illegal" sound all too real. Many unsigned
artists are being hurt by the companies’ stronghold on music
production, sales, distribution, and the control of the airwaves
by similar companies.
So, here we are. We know what New Funk is. We know that many artists
with a social message who contain elements of the "New Funk"
genre are being kept under by the system that is in place. Prince,
James Brown, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Sylvester Stewart
(Sly and the Family Stone) are all still alive. Many other artists
who have a great social and artistic message, like the Talking
Heads, are still alive, and artists who love greed are letting
the RIAA persecute people in their name.
All that the people want are reasonable prices for media, good
quality for their money, and the ability to do as they wish without
harm to anyone else. If digital music player software is banned
or controlled, and filesharing software is regulated to where
no one can download and share music for free any longer, then
true art would be dead. All that would be left is "pimped"
music that would be completely manufactured by the companies,
and radio stations that only played music with very few artistic
qualities- much like today's scenario!
August of 2002, Jason Dodson, a Southern Illinois musician,
originally from Columbus, Ohio proposed a new forum category
at Prince.org, a Musician’s forum. Many artists inspired
by Prince wanted to share their own creations and get feedback
and support. VinaBlue gave the topic a little push, Prince.org
founder Ben Margolin approved the idea, and the Org Musician
Hangout was born. Members began comparing and critiquing each
other's songs, and the varied musical styles reflected the
many styles combined in Prince’s music.
January 2003, Jason asked who would be interested in being
a part of the New Funk Order, a “new music order among
musicians who share a message of revolution, love, peace,
change, and correction.” Many artists wanted to contribute
and soon it was decided that a compilation of original music
would be put together, with artists collaborating via the
internet. Graphic artists also got involved, donating their
time and creativity. The artwork for the NFO Project 1 cd
was created by Prince.org user Yamomma (Kelly McClain), and
an anonymous supporter of the arts decided to create a website
for the New Funk Order.
Jason then started work on formulating the NFO into a non-profit
organization for artists dedicated to preserving the freedom of
music. The New Funk Order became a musical movement, a rebuttal
to the political "New World Order" that encourages corporate
globalization and exploitation of all that is good. The message
of the NFO is to show that artists can provide free music to the
public without the influence of corporate greed. Music is not
free. Radio stations can only play a certain percentage of artists
that are signed and record companies wont sign artists based on
artistic merit. The internet is a great place to share music you
wouldn’t otherwise hear unless you know these artists personally.
was the beginning of what was called "the dawning of a new
funk revolution". 18 artists from all over the world came
together on the New Funk Order's "Project 1". The virtual
cd contains music from artists in the United States, the United
Kingdom, Brazil, Sweden, and Canada. The CD is available for free
download in the "projects" section of this, as is the
CD artwork and a video for one of the tracks.
the NFO was intended to only include funk and new funk. Now, many
artists with different types of music are participating, and the
NFO welcomes all artists into the NFO community. All artists participating
in the NFO agree to share at least some of their music freely
with the public.