P-Funk Explained

P-Funk (also spelled P Funk or P. Funk) is a shorthand term for the repertoire and performers associated with George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic collective and the distinctive style of funk music they performed. 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.


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. Fans of this genre of music often refer to it as "The P."

P-Funk should not be confused with punk funk as pioneered by Rick James and the Stone City Band, although James was clearly inspired by P-Funk.

Musical characteristics

Musical elements that characterize the P-Funk style include:

Key P-Funk bands and musicians

Key P-Funk bands and musicians include:


The P-Funk sound influenced many musicians that followed, and helped to generate new sounds as well:

DJ Quik

The producer and rapper from Compton DJ Quik is probably the most "funkaholic" artist in the history of rap music. He paid homage to the P-Funk in his third album Safe + Sound (1995) with tracks like "Keep Tha 'P' In It".

Dr. Dre

World famous producer Dr. Dre is a great supporter of P-Funk, and in the early 90s brought their music back into popular culture through the extremely heavy P-Funk samples characteristic of his G-Funk records and sound.

Public Enemy

Public Enemy sampled many P-Funk tracks to add power to their polemical 1990s rap albums, including "Give Up The Funk" (sampled in 1992's "Get Off My Back") and "Get Off Your Ass and Jam" (sampled in 1988's "Bring The Noise"), and "Flash Light" (sampled in "911 Is A Joke"). The band's very original and creative use of P-Funk samples not only helped shape the development of hip hop, but its musical innovations were reflected in George Clinton's own later work.


Another key disciple is OutKast's Andre 3000, and homages to P-Funk can be seen in the albums ATLiens and Stankonia. George Clinton can be heard making a guest appearance on the track "Synthesizer" off Aquemini. The track "Prototype" on Andre's The Love Below is reminiscent of some of Bootsy Collins' 1970s P-Funk sex ballads. The track "A Bad Note" that ends Idlewild is an homage to Funkadelic's track "Maggot Brain".


A key disciple of the P-Funk was Prince, who helped define the softer side of that 1980s Electro sound. George Clinton's albums The Cinderella Theory and Hey Man, Smell My Finger were issued on Prince's Paisley Park Records label. Clinton appeared as a character in Prince's film Graffiti Bridge, in which the two duetted on the song "We Can Funk". Prince later collaborated with Clinton on the track "Paradigm" from How Late Do U Have 2BB4UR Absent?.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Another key disciple of P-funk are the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They originally started off as a focused P-funk band (their second album, Freaky Styley, was produced by George Clinton himself). Though they have evolved to a more funk rock sound, the influence of P-funk in their music is still quite prominent.

Other P-Funk influenced artists

See also