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P-Funk (also spelled P Funk or P. Funk) is the repertoire and performers associated with George Clinton. The term is variously known as an abbreviation of Parliament-Funkadelic, psychedelic funk, pure funk, or Plainfield funk.
The P-Funk groups had their heyday in the 1970s and continue to attract new fans thanks both to the legacy of samples they bequeathed to hip hop and the live shows that the bands continue to perform. Their music was very aspirational, which is symbolized by their Mothership that has since been acquired by the Smithsonian. Notable P-Funk albums include Funkadelic's Maggot Brain and Parliament's Mothership Connection. The differing styles of these albums showcase the wide range of P-Funk's music. "Maggot Brain was an explosive record" of Jimi Hendrix inspired rock while Mothership Connection was an "album of science-fiction funk." While this rock/funk differentiation is what normally separated Funkadelic from Parliament, the bands consisted of many of the same members and performed live on tour together. Hence, the two groups are often described under the one moniker Parliament-Funkadelic.
P-Funk recordings have been 'extensively' sampled in rap and hip-hop music, especially by Dr. Dre and other West Coast acts, beginning in the late 1980s and being particularly associated with the G-funk style of rap.
The etymology of the term P-Funk is subject to multiple interpretations. It has been identified alternately as an abbreviation of "Parliament-Funkadelic", "pure funk" or "Plainfield Funk", referring to Plainfield, New Jersey, the hometown of the band's original line-up. The liner notes of CD versions of the Motor Booty Affair album suggest that the "'P' stands for 'Pure.'" The breakout popularity of Parliament-Funkadelic elevated the status of P-Funk to describe what is now considered to be a genre of music in its own right.
Musical elements that characterize the P-Funk style include:
- spacey synthesizer melodies and washes provided by keyboardist Bernie Worrell and others
- classically trained and blues/jazz piano style of Bernie Worrell
- prominent, squelching electric bass lines provided by Bootsy Collins or performed in his style
- jazzy, insouciant horn section arrangements performed by The Horny Horns
- raucous glee club-type group vocals on songs' choruses alternating with sung or spoken vocals on the verses
- a mixture of funk and rock guitar styles, the latter being more prominent on Funkadelic's recordings
- steady, relatively unobtrusive drumming with few or no drum solos/drum breaks
- lyrics devoted to exposition of the P-Funk mythology, sex and drug-related humor, and sociopolitical satire often in the context of a concept album
- sophisticated use of multitrack recording technology and studio effects by producer George Clinton
- a more "live band" sound with little of the mechanistic precision of disco and post-disco dance forms
Key P-Funk artists
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- Bernie Worrell
- Bootsy Collins/Bootsy's Rubber Band
- Eddie Hazel
- Fred Wesley
- Garry Shider
- George Clinton
- Maceo Parker
- Michael "Clip" Payne
- Michael Hampton
- Parliament/P-Funk All-Stars
- The Brides of Funkenstein
- Walter Morrison
- Zapp/Larry Troutman/Lester Troutman/Roger Troutman/Terry "Zapp" Troutman
- Lauren Cochrane, "George Clinton: the best dressed man in music", The Guardian, June 23, 2008.
- Borthwick, Stuart & Moy, Ron (2004). Popular Music Genres: an Introduction: "P-Funk made far more use of the metronomic four-to-the-floor drum styles, thus linking their funk to disco and jazz funk. However, unlike disco, P-Funk always sounded 'played', with little of the production-line precision of disco and post-disco dance forms." Edinburgh University Press (2004), p. 34, ISBN 0-7486-1745-0