Parliament-Funkadelic is a funk collective that struck commercial success in the 1970s. It consists of one group of musicians that produce music for two different record labels under two different names: Parliament and Funkadelic. The group is most noted for being a pioneer in the funk genre with the sounds, looks and attitudes of funk music. They were led and managed by George Clinton, an instrumental figure in the funk movement.
Their specific style is called P-Funk, which consists of spacey synthesized beats, heavy usage of electric guitar (Funkadelic) and horn instruments (Parliament), as well as lyrics that often reference a P-Funk Mythology consisting of drug- and sex-related humor, group vocals that give a live band feel, fictional characters and sociopolitical satire. P-Funk had a huge influence on successive funk bands and G-Funk hip-hop.
Parliament’s funk style was more organized, and frequently utilized horn instruments such as trumpets. It blended R&B and funk music together, and included a higher volume of slower tempo songs than Funkadelic. The peak of Parliament’s popularity came from 1975 through 1978. Two albums from these years include “Mothership Connection” (1975) and “Motor Booty Affair” (1978). “Mothership Connection” is one of the most popular albums produced by Parliament. The song “Mothership Connection (Star Child)” embodies the R&B influence with its slower tempo. Much of its lyrics are performed by the whole group, which gives it the live band feel that embodies P-Funk. This song had a big influence on G-Funk artists such as Dr. Dre, as his song “Let Me Ride” samples this Parliament song. Another classic song from this album is called “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off This Sucker).”
This song utilizes the horns in true Parliament fashion, and you can’t help but to start dancing. Parliament mixed synthesized beats into music for the album “Motor Booty Affair.” A song that marks this change is “One Of Those Funky Thangs.” With this song, you could start to hear the beginnings of a boom-bap sound that more fully developed in 1980s funk. The trumpets were still in full swing for this one, even with inclusion of more synthesized beats. Another great song is “Motor Booty Affair.” This song had a noticeably bigger presence of soul in its sound. This song has a great synthesized beat, and is an up-tempo jam you can groove to.
Funkadelic’s style was more experimental and spacey in nature, creating a less organized style of music. The electric guitar and bass is utilized by Funkadelic very frequently, creating a sound that mixed psychedelic rock and funk. You can hear the strong psychedelic rock influence in the album “Funkadelic” (1970). The song “Mommy, what’s a Funkadelic?” featured the electric guitar in full force. It also marked the beginning of P-Funk Mythology, establishing The Funk as an extraterrestrial being not of this world. “I Bet You” is another song that emphasizes psychedelic rock. You can’t help but to think of Jimi Hendrix when this song plays, as the trippy guitar strums and voices echo as they sing the lyrics. As Funkadelic progressed, it mixed more synthesized beats with its electric guitars. “One Nation Under A Groove” (1978) shows this change, and is one of Funkadelic’s most popular albums. A great song from this album is “One Nation Under A Groove.” This song is really up-tempo, and makes you want to dance. You can hear the increased prominence of synthesized beats, as they work together in funky harmony. “Promentalshitbackwashpsychosis” is another great song from this album.
Just as impressive as Parliament-Funkadelic’s music itself is the huge influence they had on later artists. Specifically, 1980s funk band Zapp & Roger was greatly influenced by P-Funk and received assistance from George Clinton. An example of their influence on hip-hop artists is De La Soul’s smash hit “Me Myself & I” sampling of Funkadelic’s song “(Not Just) Knee Deep.” Parliament-Funkadelic created a timeless and influential sound that could make anyone dance.