Funk is a music genre originating in the mid-1960s combining elements of soul, jazz, and R&B to create a rhythmic, danceable style.
James Brown is often considered the biggest pioneer of funk. In the mid-1960s, Brown developed his signature groove, emphasizing the first beat of every measure to create his distinctive sound, rather than the backbeat typical for African-American music at the time.
In the late '60s and early '70s, other musicians picked up on Brown's influence, including Tower of Power, The Isley Brothers, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye.
The 1970s saw the greatest mainstream exposure from funk, thanks to the above acts, the explosion of disco, and the subgenre, “P-Funk.” “P-Funk” fused psychedelic rock and jazz, and its name abbreviates the names of the two biggest “P-Funk” bands, Parliament and Funkadelic, both formed by George Clinton.
In the 1980s, funk began using electronic instruments, drum machines, and synthesizers, and Prince had as much an impact on the sound of funk as James Brown did. Prince combined technology, multi-instrumentation, and an outrageous image to create music as imaginative as P-Funk.
After the late '80s, funk lost its mainstream presence, but its influence is strong. Rock bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus, Fishbone, Rage Against the Machine, and Incubus used elements of funk to create “funk rock” and “funk metal.” These bands paved the way for current funk-inspired artists like Outkast and Gnarles Barkley.