Include "Funk" As A Genre For Grammy Nominations

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Include "Funk" As A Genre For Grammy Nominations

This petition had 3,841 supporters
Live for Live Music started this petition to Grammy Awards The Recording Academy

With the recent announcement of this year’s Grammy Award nominees, it once again became apparent, as it typically does year after year, that the funk genre gets little to no recognition from the voting committee. For a genre that has not only influenced countless artists (who have, over the years, received Grammy Awards of their own), let alone being the main impetus for the creation of others, it's unbelievable that funk is not included.

Funk is all about the groove and the feel; it’s like what peanut butter is to jelly. And James Brown’s former drummer, Clyde Stubblefield, could arguably be the cause of why we have just so much damn good funk music to listen to. Stubblefield adopted the New Orleans drumming style, which heavily influenced Brown’s decision to change his groove to the downbeat and, in turn, create a new genre of music. This was essentially the beginning of funk music as we now know it, and what opened the doors to the next generation of popular acts embracing the funk and making it their own. Look up the sheer amount of artists that have sampled Brown’s “Funky Drummer”; it’s astounding.

What we now consider “old-school” funk acts such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Sly & The Family Stone, and New Orleans’ own The Meters have had such a direct influence on most artists that we love, currently listen to at this very moment, or are somewhat familiar with, that multiple books could be written on the subject. Take The Meters, for example, they are arguably one of the most sampled acts of all-time. Their music has been sampled by the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, N.W.A., Ice Cube, Run DMC, Queen Latifah, and countless artists from a variety of genres across the board.

Funk music isn’t an entity unto itself. It literally pops up everywhere in modern music, especially pop music. Let’s take a look at some songs that you may have heard at some point that have used samples of some rather funky artists:

Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” samples The Chi-Lites “Are You My Woman”
Amerie’s “1 Thing” samples The Meters’ “Oh, Calcutta!”
Jennifer Lopez “Get Right” samples Maceo Parker’s “Soul Power ‘74”
Madonna’s “Erotica” samples Kool and the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie”
Iggy Azalea ft. T.I. “Murda Bizness” samples The Mohawks “The Champ”
Gwen Stefani’s “Luxurious” samples The Isley Brothers “Between The Sheets”

When you look at the Rock category, there are multiple sub-genres such as hard rock, classic rock alt-rock, grunge, indie, metal, punk, and so on and so forth. Funk has a few of its own: New Orleans funk, jazz funk, electro funk, nu-funk, boogie, psychedelic funk, G-funk, funk jam, and the Washington D.C. stylings of the Go-Go scene, all fall under the funk umbrella. The list of incredible artists that go unrecognized by the Grammy voting committee is absolutely mind-boggling.

Afrika Bambaata, DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash - The Forefathers of Hip-Hop in the Boogie Down Bronx were heavily influenced by funk music. Without funk, there wouldn’t be hip-hop or rap, it’s a fact that cannot be argued. Classic and present day hip-hop/rap is so deeply ingrained with all things funk, and that gets its own Grammy category, so why the overly egregious slight of the funk genre? It quite literally created hip-hop. Here’s just a few examples of funk artists you have most definitely heard of via hip-hop tracks:

Biz Markie’s “Nobody Beats The Biz” (1988), LL Cool J’s “Jingling Baby” (1989), and Wu-Tang Clan’s “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nothing Ta Fuck Wit” (1993) all sample “Hihache” by Lafayette Afro Rock Band. Have you ever heard of Lafayette Afro Rock Band? Probably not. But all of the aforementioned artists certainly have.

N.W.A.’s “Dopeman” (1987) and De La Soul’s “Me Myself and I” (1989) sampled The Ohio Players “Funky Worm". Probably much of the same with this act too, right? Interesting fact about this group’s keyboardist Walter “Junie” Morrison; he would later go on to play in Parliament-Funkadelic, which leads right into the next, and extremely influential example.

What would the funk genre be without George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic? You ever heard of “Atomic Dog”? Of course you have! Snoop Dogg’s “Who Am I? (What’s My Name)?” (1993) and 2Pac’s “Holler If Ya Hear Me” (1993) both sample the track, with the former using Clinton’s now legendary ad lib of “Bow wow wow yippy yo yippy yay,” which is the most sampled cut in the entire P-Funk catalogue. Clinton’s influence is all over Dr. Dre’s The Chronic (1992), including the single “Let Me Ride,” which won an award for Best Rap Solo Performance. Yes, this also samples Clinton and Parliament’s “Swing Down, Sweet Chariot” that was originally released back in 1977.

The funk legend has worked with and produced everyone from Outkast to Tupac, and Ice Cube to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has 9 gold albums and 3 platinum albums, yet has never received a Grammy for his own work (which subsequently has won multiple Grammy’s for artists in various genres over the years). It wasn’t until earlier this year that Clinton finally received his first Grammy Award; and all he had to do, after a 50-year career, was get a guest appearance on “Wesley’s Theory” off of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly to earn it. Pretty unbelievable when you think about it.

Funk music today is more universal than ever. Here is a list of artists that are directly influenced by funk music: A Tribe Called Quest, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, Kendrick Lamar, Lettuce, Dumpstaphunk, Jamiroquai, Galactic, D'Angelo, Snarky Puppy, Pretty Lights, GRiZ, Erykah Badu, Kamasi Washington, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Thundercat and so many more.

Though the GRAMMYs acknowledge a wide array of genres, including Pop, Dance/Electronica, Rock, Jazz, Classical, Alternative, Urban Contemporary, Rap, Country, New Age, Reggae, Latin, World Music, Contemporary Christian, their omission of Funk, historically and currently, is a disappointment. Thus, we hereby petition to have Funk Music included as a genre category in future GRAMMY Award ceremonies. Please join us in voicing our support to recognize this vibrant musical community.

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