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Originating Location: USA

Originating Era: mid-60s

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Funk music was the result of the mid-60s when soul music began to experiment into faster, more danceable regions of sound. Notably named after "the smell of sexual intercourse," funk is described by the pounding and incessant rhythms that make up the backbone of the style of music. The rhythm section of the groove-oriented drums with the beat moved from the 2 and 4 of traditional soul to the 1 and 3 and the newly prominent bass guitar were accented with usually a muted, more percussive electric guitar, bursts of brass and anthematic shouting vocals. Funk was created with the intention of dancing and held nothing back to get the crowd on their feet unable to resist the sheer energy of the music being played. The genre was heavily shaped and popularized by James Brown in the late 1960s with singles like Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, Cold Sweat, and Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud. The movement spread quickly throughout the U.S., giving birth to hundreds of funk bands, most of whom never gained the recognition they deserved. Some, like New Orleans' The Meters peaked quickly, than faded away as the 70s progressed. The genre was not confined to just the U.S. though thanks to Brown's international tours. One notable evolution was Fela Kuti's afrobeat, which drew heavily from funk, along with jazz, highlife and traditional African music. During the 70s a more polished and progressive style of funk tookover behind the imaginative George Clinton and his bands Parliament and Funkadelic. This new direction included heavy influences from the worlds of jazz (which also took notice and formed jazz-funk and later jazz fusion behind artists like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock) and psychedelic rock, which forced the genre into more experimental and elaborate realms. Alternately, a branch of funk became very polished and oriented toward the mainstream as bands like Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang and Tower and Power all found success and wide-spread popularity. This latter version of funk is what remained prominent into the 80s, as the genre, along with all others at the time, dipped into the new electronic possibilities. Rick James and Prince became the most notorious of the remaining funk artists, both leaning heavily on the sexual nature of the style. By the end of 80s, funk as a lone genre had all but disappeared from the mainstream audience, but not before leaving a signinficant impact. The burgeoning hip-hop scene would embrace and later reintroduce funk to new audiences. And subgenres like the funk metal hybrid of Primus, Faith No More and the Red Hot Chili Peppers would reign supreme in the early 90s, and funk inspired jam bands like Medeski, Martin & Wood and Galactic would be popular during the second half of the decade. More recently, the original funk that graced the 60s and early 70s have become popular again thanks to bands like Sharon Jones & the Daptones and the Quantic Soul Orchestra, labels like Desco and Daptone along with crate-digging scene and reissue labels like Now Again who specialize in compilations of rare funk tracks.

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