Psychedelic funk (also called P-funk or funkadelia, and sometimes conflated with psychedelic soul[1]) is a music genre that combines funk music with elements of psychedelic rock.[3] It was pioneered in the late 1960s and early 1970s by American acts like Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and the Parliament-Funkadelic collective.[3][4] It would influence subsequent styles including '70s jazz fusion and the '90s West Coast hip hop style G-funk.

George Clinton performs with Parliament-Funkadelic in 2007.


Origins: Late 1960s

Inspired by Jimi Hendrix and psychedelic culture, funk group Sly and the Family Stone borrowed techniques from psychedelic rock music, including wah pedals, fuzz boxes, echo chambers, and vocal distorters,[3] on albums such as Dance to the Music (1968) and Stand (1969).[5] This psychedelic sound would also be reflected in the late 1960s output of iconic Detroit label Motown.[4] Producer Norman Whitfield drew on this sound for popular Motown recordings such as The Temptations' "Cloud Nine" and Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," both released in October 1968.[4] Hendrix's November 1968 single "Crosstown Traffic" has been described as an example of the psychedelic funk subgenre.[6]

Development: 1970s and later

In 1970, Hendrix released the trio album Band of Gypsys, described as "ground zero" for psychedelic funk.[7] The Parliament-Funkadelic collective developed the sensibility, employing acid rock-oriented guitar and synthesizers into open-ended funk jams.[3][4] Funkadelic's 1971 album Maggot Brain was labeled a monument in the genre by Pitchfork.[8] 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 as well as themes related to outer space.[1] The Isley Brothers and Bobby Womack would be influenced by Funkadelic and draw on this sound.[4] Womack also contributed to Sly and the Family Stone's landmark 1971 album There's a Riot Goin' On, described as a "masterpiece of darkly psychedelic funk" by AllMusic.[9]

During the early 1970s, the main elements of psychedelic funk were adopted as signifiers of "urban blackness" and incorporated into blaxploitation films.[1] The 1971 James Brown instrumental album Sho Is Funky Down Here, directed by bandleader David Matthews, explored "fuzzy" psychedelic funk.[10] Jazz musician Miles Davis, newly influenced by Sly Stone and Brown,[11] explored the genre on his 1972 album On the Corner.[12] The group War recorded in a psychedelic funk-rock style alongside lyrics protesting racism and police brutality.[13] The 1974 album Inspiration Information by Shuggie Otis explored psychedelic funk and despite receiving little attention upon release, it later achieved acclaim when it was reissued by the Luaka Bop label.[14]

In the late 1970s, new wave band Talking Heads explored psychedelic funk, influenced by George Clinton and P-Funk, on a trilogy of acclaimed albums.[15][16] Prince drew on the style,[4] recording in a "richly melodic vein of psychedelic funk" on his 1985 album Around the World in a Day.[17] Author Michaelangelo Matos described Prince's 1987 track “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” as psychedelic funk, “not in the sense of Funkadelic or Hendrix's Band of Gypsys, but in the sense that its rhythms and textures achieve a molten-lava sense without surrendering the groove.[18]

International artists

The West German band Can played psychedelic funk as part of that country's 1970s krautrock scene.[19] 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.[20][21] Turkey's Anatolian rock scene featured psychedelic funk by artists such as Barış Manço.[22] The British band Happy Mondays played a form of "stiff" psychedelic funk on their 1988 album Bummed.[23]

Examples of psychedelic funk from world music scenes have been collected on compilations issued on the World Psychedelic Funk Classics label,[24] including the 2009 compilation Psych-Funk 101: 1968-1975.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27]

Influence and recent developments

In the early 1970s, jazz artists such as Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, influenced by Sly Stone, combined elements of psychedelic funk with urban jazz to pioneer jazz fusion.[28][29] In the 1990s, the popular psychedelic funk style known as G-funk emerged from the West Coast hip hop scene, represented by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Warren G.[30] Many G-funk recordings sampled tracks by earlier psychedelic funk bands, most prominently Parliament-Funkadelic.[30][31]

The 1990s hip hop duo OutKast were also influenced by black psychedelic musicians such as Sly Stone and Clinton.[32][33] Their 2000 album Stankonia was described as "a trippy sort of techno-psychedelic funk" composed of "programmed percussion, otherworldly synthesizers, and surreal sound effects."[34] The experimental indie pop band of Montreal developed a psychedelic funk sound,[35] particularly on their 2008 album Skeletal Lamping.[36] 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."[37]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Echard, William (2017). Psychedelic Popular Music: A History through Musical Topic Theory. Indiana University Press. pp. 123–125. ISBN 9780253026590. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  2. ^ Lauren Cochrane, "George Clinton: the best dressed man in music", The Guardian, June 23, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d Scott, Derek B. (2009). Dayton Street Funk: The Layering of Musical Identities. Ashgate Publishing. p. 275. ISBN 9780754664765. Retrieved 25 November 2016. ((cite book)): |website= ignored (help)
  4. ^ a b c d e f Edmondson, Jacqueline (2013). Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories that Shaped our Culture [4 volumes]: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories That Shaped Our Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 474.
  5. ^ Hanson, Michael Stephen (2004). People Get Ready: Race, Place and Political Identity in Post-civil Rights Black Popular Music, 1965-1975. UC Berkeley. p. 124.
  6. ^ Dave, Moskowitz (2010). The Words and Music of Jimi Hendrix. ABC-CLIO. p. 43.
  7. ^ Drozdowski, Ted. "Remembering Jimi Hendrix: His Top 10 Live Recordings". Gibson. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  8. ^ Segal, Dave (June 20, 2020). "Funkadelic: Maggot Brain". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  9. ^ Huey, Steve. "Bobby Womack – Biography". AllMusic.
  10. ^ Staff. "James Brown - Sho Is Funky Down Here". Wax Museum. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  11. ^ Chambers, Jack (1998). Milestones: The Music and Times of Miles Davis. Da Capo Press. pp. 235–38.
  12. ^ "Miles Davis". Juxtapoz. No. 48–53. High Speed Productions. 2004. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  13. ^ Goldsmith, Melissa Ursula Dawn (2019). Listen to Classic Rock! Exploring a Musical Genre. ABC-CLIO. p. 59.
  14. ^ Mirkin, Steven (8 July 2001). "Reviews: Shuggie Otis". Variety. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  15. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2005). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. Penguin. p. 163. ISBN 9780143036722.
  16. ^ Bowman, David (2009). This Must Be the Place: The Adventures of Talking Heads in the 20th Century. Harper Collins.
  17. ^ Hasted, Nick (22 April 2016). "Prince: In appreciation of a virtuoso, enduring genius". The Independent. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  18. ^ Matos, Michaelangelo (2004). Prince's Sign 'O' the Times. 33 1/3. p. 105.
  19. ^ Maconie, Stuart (22 August 2014). "Krautrock: Germany's coolest export that no one can quite define". New Statesman. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  20. ^ Staff. "Africa 100: The Indestructible Beat". Pitchfork. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  21. ^ Thomas, Andy. "Reviews: Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou". The Quietus. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  22. ^ Byrne, David. "David Byrne hooked on Turkish Psychedelica". Ancient Belgique. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  23. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Bummed – Happy Mondays". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 12 February 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  24. ^ All Music Various Artists, Psych-Funk Sa-Re-Ga! Seminar: Aesthetic Expressions of Psychedelic Funk Music in India 1970-1983, AllMusic Review by John Bush
  25. ^ Brown, Marissa. "Various Artists - Psych-Funk 101: 1968-1975". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  26. ^ Kazbek, Katya (2 July 2019). "Music: Afro-Beat Airways, West African Shock Waves: Ghana & Togo 1972-1978, 2010". SupaModu. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  27. ^ Killakam (28 January 2016). "The Best 1970s Nigerian Psychedelic Funk Gets Compiled In 'Wake Up You! The Rise & Fall Of Nigerian Rock'". OkayAfrica. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  28. ^ Lien, James (September 1997). "In the Bins". CMJ New Music Monthly. No. 49. CMJ Network.
  29. ^ Dean, Matt (December 29, 2011). The Drum: A History. Scarecrow Press. p. 292.
  30. ^ a b Hunter, Christopher (16 March 2017). "WARREN G IS RELEASING A DOCUMENTARY ON THE HISTORY OF G-FUNK". XXL Mag.
  31. ^ Fisher, Gus (25 July 2018). "We Want The Funk: From P-Funk To G-Funk & Beyond, A Brief History". Hot New Hip Hop. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  32. ^ "Outkast". Rolling Stone.
  33. ^ Kot, Greg. "Review: Oldies and newbies at Lollapalooza 2014". The Morning Call. Retrieved 22 January 2022.[permanent dead link]
  34. ^ Huey, Steve. "Stankonia – OutKast". AllMusic. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
  35. ^ Perpetua, Matthew. "Review: Of Montreal - thecontrollersphere EP". Pitchfork. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  36. ^ Fink, Matt. "of Montreal's Kevin Barnes Discusses New Country Music Influenced Album, "Lousy with Sylvianbriar": Twisting Tradition". Under the Radar. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  37. ^ Daramola, Israel (5 December 2016). "Can Funk Give Childish Gambino What He Needs?". Vice. Retrieved 5 April 2020.