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Funkadelic is probably best known for the alias Parliament-Funkadelic, which in itself was a pretty influential act in the 70s, introducing a style known as “P. Funk,” essentially just uncut-funk jamming. However, I wanna focus on Funkadelic and their amazing musical grind that occurred in their prime, releasing ten full-length albums in just the 70s alone, and their influence on music, even influencing artists to this day. A band who will always stay in a lot of hearts, Funkadelic was a musical revolution and an experience that everyone should try out at least once in their life.
What's a Funkadelic?
Funkadelic, as well as Parliament, was the brainchild of electrifying artist George Clinton, pioneering funk music and culture. Funkadelic released its debut in 1970, however, they had been a band since the prior decade as the backing band for The Parliaments, George’s doo-wop group. This was the foundation that later would be completely destroyed and reformed after the band moved to Detroit towards the late 60s. Another thing was happening around this time, the Psychedelic Era, a wave of youth rebellion and culture that took over America. The Funkadelic sound officially was started, releasing their debut, Funkadelic, and Free Your Mind... and Your Ass Will Follow, both in 1970. Free Your Mind… contained a very uncut jammy sound the band would be known for in the next several releases, but the band didn’t receive commercial success for a few years to come. However, I believe their next release in 1971, is not only one of their best, but one of their most influential records.
Maggot Brain was released in 1971 and in addition to being my personal favorite record from the band, it is also a lot of other people’s favorite. Rolling Stone put the album in their 500 best albums of all time list, it reached Number 17 in Pitchfork’s best album of the 70s and countless other positive mentions from critics. The album contains almost a buffet of sound, swimming in styles of R&B motifs and funky jam goodness, while also diving into the deepest depths of psychedelic space. Tracks like “Can You Get to That” and "You And Your Folks, Me and My Folks” bring in the best funky jams you’ll hear, but also probably some of the easiest to listen material from the band at this time. They’re simple, they’re fun and you can groove to it. However, the songs “Wars of Armageddon” and, of course, “Maggot Brain” are very heavy, very psychedelic, almost the complete opposite of the other tracks on this record. The track “Maggot Brain” is a very special track specifically, being almost ten minutes of guitar soloing from Eddie Hazel; every time I listen to it I just admire his playing more and more. Apparently, the story behind this track is George Clinton told him to play like his mom just died. I think that really says it all for this track as well as the album.
Mid and Late 70s, Success, and Radio
Funkadelic started creating a more definitive funk sound towards the mid-70s and with that came more success for the group. Their most notable album during this period was One Nation Under A Groove which reached a lot of success in its time, as well being noted by a lot of people as one of the greatest funk records of all time. It’s received the notoriety it deserves from many outlets like Rolling Stone, Vibe, and plenty others, the album also being a massive success from fans. However, even with this success, the band had a lot of issues getting radio play. At the time, a lot of rock radio was pretty much dominated by white musicians and unfortunately, this stirred a racist attitude towards playing black-artists like Funkadelic, preventing them from airtime. It’s great, but also a shame, that only recently did Funkadelic start getting more praise as being a huge part of 20th-century music history. However, where Funkadelic lacked in commercial praise, the band flourished in praise from the people, who I feel like were more important to the band than anything.
Modern Day Funkadelic and Influence
Funkadelic did have a gap for about 20+ years without releasing any new music, 2007’s By The Way Of The Drum and 2008’s Toys being miscellaneous recordings that were done throughout the 80s, however, 2014 provided the release of a new album. First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate was an amazing three-disc album that completely rattled the funk community as well as the world of music in general. It was definitely a very abrasive return and the album almost signifies this, containing a whopping 33 tracks, one for each year since the last album they released. It’s almost like an homage to the fans and making up for all this time. Funkadelic’s inspiration can be seen in the modern day music scene, most notably in Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love!” which is almost like a direct tribute to the band. He has been stated that Funkadelic was a big inspiration and it really shows. Funkadelic has also been (according to WhoSampled) sampled almost 1000 different times by artists like N.W.A, De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, and plenty more. Funkadelic’s inspiration obviously has a pretty big footprint on the industry and the culture of music.
Funkadelic is a band that I personally feel like should require no introduction, but they do. But, despite the lack of deserved recognition throughout their career, battles with racism and the industry, they still helped influence music immensely and will always be the favorite band of many. Funkadelic is a family, with over 34 members throughout their career, and when you listen to them, you feel like you’re apart of it. They're a fantastic band, and If you haven’t listened to them before, you’re missing out!