The musical landscape is constantly evolving, each decade has its own genre that signifies the cultural and social developments of that era. For example; the 1940s saw the rise of swing and jazz which made legends out of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, the seventies saw the revolutionary genre of punk transform social politics and become a whole new subculture at the same time. The nineties saw the rise in political rap through the controversial genre of hip-hop which gave a voice to minorities during a time of racial conflict, most evident in bands such as N.W.A. This same theme is featured in the ground-breaking genre of grime which has become the genre to embody the 2010s. All these genres are different in nature, but all hold one similarity and that is their experimental and controversial nature. It is always hard to predict which genre will define a decade, especially considering the ever-growing music industry, however through its intense experimentalism and rising popularity, I believe psychedelic funk could be the genre of the 2020s.
Psychedelic funk is one of the most experimental genres, it was birthed from the iconic Jimi Hendrix and features an intense blend of funk, soul, jazz whilst taking inspiration from the old hippie and drug movement. It usually holds an amazing bass line accompanied by a smooth percussion and can at times feature instruments from other genres such as a Latina brass – which is seen in Steve Lacy’s album Apollo XXI. Its experimentation is evident as each artist that takes this genre on puts their own feel to it, for example Thundercat puts emphasis on the bass line which makes for the perfect tune to listen to on a lovely summer night. Whilst artists like Blood Orange focus on funk sounding synths section and incorporating woodwind instruments, this pure experimentalism and use of a wide variety of instruments is extremely prevalent throughout psychedelic funk. This bold experimentalism is rare to find in this era, many critics have even said there is no scope for innovation left in music, but psychedelic funk proves the critics that there is plenty of innovation left by blending musical instruments that don’t usually belong together to create a rare and new sound.
Popular music has even taken elements of psychedelic funk and has proven a huge success, for example Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars which become the longest leading number one single of the 2010s. Critics praised its use of instrumental stylings and influences on the track, all key themes in the development of psychedelic funk. Musical legends such as Prince gave psychedelic funk its global platform and allowed him to experiment with a wide variety of vocals and express his more feminine side. The experimentalism of the genre also enables artist to experiment with their gender and sexuality seen in Steve Lacy’s song ‘Like Me’ where he openly discusses his relationship with bisexuality. The genre is so diverse in nature and has no language barrier as shown in Omar Apollo’s 2018 EP Stereo which features a few songs in Spanish which appeals to a non-Spanish speaking audience as the amazing musicality of the tracks are universal. It’s a genre that allows artist to express themselves freely without judgement there is no reoccurring theme that is prevalent throughout the genre except individualism.
The amazing artist that will make psychedelic funk even more creative than it already is are, Thundercat, Steve Lacy, Blood Orange, The Internet, bLack pARty, Cosmo Pyke, Matt Martians, Phony Ppl, Omar Apollo and Syd.