Throwback: Black History Month: Parliament Funkadelic

Today is the seventeenth day of Black History Month. I tend to use this time as a way to remind readers – and everyone else of a couple of important facts:

  • You can’t love Black artists and their work, and not see them as people 
  • Black lives — and Black art matters 
  • Black culture is American culture 

So as we go through the month, I’m going to talk about a collection of Black artists. It’ll be fairly comprehensive and eclectic list — although it won’t be a complete list. 

So far I’ve mentioned the following artists:

Led by their equally legendary frontman George Clinton, Parliament Funkadelic is a collective of rotating musicians that created a distinctive take on funk that drew on psychedelic culture, sci-fi, surrealist humor and outlandish fashion. The outfit’s 1970s output would have a towering influence on the funk, post-punk, hip-hop and techno artists of the ’80s and ’90s. (Parliament Funkadelic’s influence on early hip-hop is massive — especially on West Coast hip-hop.)

1971’s Maggot Brain, 1975’s Mothership Connection, 1978’s One Nation Under a Groove were among a list of their critically applauded and commercially successful material: Between 1967-1983, the outfit had 13 Top 10 hits on the American R&B music charts, including six #1 hits. The band’s collective mythology — along with that of Sun Ra — would help pioneer the Afrofuturisim movement.

And I can’t possibly forget that the world famous Mothership is in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture.

Yes, they’re that important. And we can’t talk about Black History and Black art without mentioning them.