Del the Funky Homosapien

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These are just points that came to mind when thinking about funk vs. hip-hop that I found interesting. They occur somewhat in order but it’s pretty much stream-of-consciousness, so bear with me.

The 1970s were a period of integration and equality, the sum of what the civil rights movement had fought for. The funk movement of the 70s was a direct influence on hip-hop today, as well as most popular music. The idea of a James Brown vamp was perfect for rappers to rhyme over, and James Brown has since been one of the most sampled artists of all time.

I grew up with my parents partying a lot, and at these parties funk was always the premier musical choice. Growing up, everything was funky: the commercials on TV were funky, the theme songs to TV shows and cartoons, everybody was dressing (or trying to) with the funky hip vibe. Now, it’s the same thing: everything has that hip-hop edge to it. From commercials to TV. A lot of people never did get it right. Some were successful at bringing the funk/hip-hop through different mediums.

There were a lot of hip-hop dudes repping the funk from the early days of hip-hop. A few that I remember were Ced G of Ultramagnetic, Lord Finesse from DITC, and Public Enemy. But this was a new, more raw form of funk. It was noisy and aggressive like the streets of the inner city. It was too edgy, radio couldn’t fuck with it… yet. Now every station you hear claims to be the so-called “home of hip-hop.” The funk that was created in the mid 80s was a minimalist version, complete with the classic 808 bass drum. Afrika Bambaataa was one of the first artists from the hip-hop scene that I got into. His song “Renegades of Funk” became my mantra at a very early age. I mixed his version of interplanetary future funk with the George Clinton P-Funk version in my head. To me, they were both the same funk, just from different eras.

The idea of creating crazy drum patterns came from funk. It’s now easier to do patterns with machines such as the MPC or the old school SP-1200, one of the first sampling drum machines. It still helps to know about drumming, though. I approach the drum machine the way a funk drummer would. I’ve studied the most popular drum breaks, including Funky Drummer (the main event as far as drumming goes). The entire hip-hop aesthetic is damn near built upon Funky Drummer. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself how many hip-hop songs sampled Funky Drummer.

There’s still a bit of that old school funk out there still. You can check out acts like Budos Band or Sharon Jones And The Dap Kings for some upgraded flavor of funk. Of course, you still have bands like Parliament-Funkadelic going strong, touring almost all year round seemingly, spreading the message of funk to funky people. Peace, keep the Funk alive.