The influence of P-Funk on Hip Hop – Part. 2

The influence of P-Funk on Hip Hop – Part. 2

The P-Funk invites itself in the Hip Hop

When we talk about the influence of P-Funk on Hip Hop, we all think directly to G-Funk, which is obviously its direct descendant. However, the influence of P-Funk on Hip Hop is not only on the West Coast, it could take many other forms, especially in the themes approached.

“The musicality of P-Funk in the G-Funk of Los Angeles”

As for the psychedelic Rock, the G-Funk will be born in California. Although G-Funk may have borrowed slightly from Rock, especially in its early days, its main source of inspiration was undeniably George Clinton’s P-Funk. From the first sketches of the Californian rap in the late 80’s, the influences of the Rock are certain. Ice-T and Too Short, the pioneers of West Coast rap, had already seized Rock and Funk records to create sample-based compositions. The first Ruthless Records releases with N.W.A.’s Striaght Outta Compton or The D.O.C.’s No One Can Do It Better also featured a mix of Funk and Rock with strong bass and guitar riffs, directly sampled from artists like James Brown, Kool & The Gang or Ohio Players. 

Yet at that time, samples from the P-Funk period were almost absent from the productions. Even the first productions of the 90’s with artists like Above The Law or DJ Quik still integrate very few samples of P-Funk, yet it starts to emancipate itself from Rock to propose sounds that get closer and closer to the lazy, melodic and maudlin G-Funk of P-Funk. But the psychedelia is still absent.

We have to wait for the Death Row period to concretely enter the typical psychedelia of P-Funk. Compton producer Dr. Dre will take even more inspiration from P-Funk with multiple layers of melodic, weepy synthesizers, lightly saturated guitar riffs, layered snare beats and heavy bass. The slow tempo rhythms will create that typical George Clinton Funk laziness while adding female vocals in the background. This style of G-Funk will have all the traditional markers of P-Funk with the added psychedelia that comes with it. But this psychedelia is mainly in the sounds, the themes are more typical of traditional Gangsta Rap. The greatest representative of this style is Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg in 1993. Uncle Sam’s Curse by Above The Law and Funk Upon A Rhyme by Kokane are also great descendants of the musicality of P-Funk with a grating, strident and messy style, very saturated and electric.

Ice Cube will also follow this G-Funk movement in the early 90’s, whereas he had a more belligerent and less funky tendency before. His fourth album, Lethal Injection, takes directly the codes of G-Funk, and the more festive P-Funk of George Clinton, and notably the cover of One Nation Under a Groove on Bop Gun.

“The influence of P-Funk music on the rest of the United States”

Further north in California, the G-Funk style of the Bay Area on the edge of San Francisco will be massively inspired by this P-Funk period with artists like Spice 1, Celly Cel or E-40. The South of the United States will also draw its inspiration in the sub-genre of Funk, the group of Houston U.G.K. or the group of Memphis 8ball & MJG are good examples, the first having even integrated the guitarist of The Meters, Leo Nocenteli, to make its guitar riffs. The sounds of P-Funk managed to take over a part of the Hip Hop map of the United States over the 90s.

Another group from Atlanta was also directly inspired by P-Funk, the Outkast. Just the title of the first album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, is directly inspired by George Clinton with a word assembly without space. Even if there is no sample of Parliament, Funkadelic or solo of George Clinton, Bootsy Collins & co, the sounds are typically P-Funk with lazy and melodious rhythms and the use of electronically modified voices on the choruses. Tracks like Funky Ride or Ain’t No Thang are very good examples. The second album, ATLiens, will slightly move away from the Funky and dancing musicality for more atmospheric and deep sounds, which is also inspired by the concept of P-Funk. The theme of the album is strangely reminiscent of Parliament’s Mothership Connection, with the concept of flying through space in a flying Cadillac.

“The philosophy and madness of P-Funk in New York rap”

If the inspiration in the sounds is obvious for G-Funk, whether it is from Los Angeles, the Bay Area or other cities of the South, it is much less for New York. And even if the examples are less numerous and the influence much more discrete, some groups will nevertheless draw their inspiration from P-Funk, and notably EPMD. If the style of EPMD has a more groovy tendency than psychedelic, the samples of Funk, and in particular of P-Funk, are omnipresent.

Member of the same crew, in addition to the inspiration in the sounds, Redman’s zany deliriums and surrealist humor are directly descended from George Clinton’s style, not to mention the cover of Dare Iz A Dark Side taken from Maggot Brain by Funkadelic. Redman has crafted an abstract identity based on humor with a stack of Funk samples for a slightly messy style that instantly brings to mind P-Funk.

When we talk about surreal humor and abstract lyrics, we also think of Kool Keith and the Ultramagnetic MCs. If in the middle of the first realizations of the group, the samples of Funk pullulate, it is especially in the techniques of arrangement that one can see the influence of George Clinton with magnetic beats which give a futuristic side to the whole. But the rhymes as surreal as zany of Kool Keith definitely remind the madness attributed to Parliament-Funkadelic.

The Afro-centric movement of the early 1990s, embodied by groups such as A Tribe Called Quest, KMD and Brand Nubian, also drew its inspiration from George Clinton’s global work, which aimed to bring the black American community to the forefront. Certainly, rap has made it much more belligerent, aggressive and concrete than what George Clinton undertook, and the Afro-centric influences in Hip Hop are much more eclectic than only Parliament-Funkadelic, but nevertheless he has inspired a generation of rappers, notably Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest. Under a much more jazzy tune, the rapper/producer was inspired by the ideology of George Clinton with the abstract and spiritual side of the lyrics. Even if afro-centric, Q-Tip still remains more philosophical with the objective of propelling a social thought and expressing his convictions.

Beyond the direct influences in musicality and ideology, the number of participations of George Clinton and the musicians of Parliement-Funkadelic with rappers in the 90’s and even in the 2000’s and 2010’s demonstrates in itself the influence of P-Funk on Hip Hop. The number of samples, or even direct covers, of Parliament-Funkadelic found in Hip Hop tracks is the second indicator. Hip Hop actots have never hesitated to give him credit and acknowledge the influence that George Clinton had on the movement.
Find the first part of the article:

By Grégoire Zasa

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