Funk Stinks (So Good)

by | Feb 2, 2007

In an ESPN article that reads like a piece from The Onion (but isn’t), the sports network question’s Prince’s ability to perform at his peak this Sunday during the Superbowl halftime show. Apparently, he has a bad hip.

But that’s not what interested me most. The fact that Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness in the 1990s caught my attentiion. But even more interesting than that is the common-sense notion that hips are an essential part of the funk.

Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of African and African-American studies at Duke University and one of the foremost authorities on black popular culture, says, “In a traditional sense, the word funk was about an odor — an odor generated by intense physical movement. By the time James Brown and others were embracing the word to describe their music, it was generally accepted that one had to be seriously shaking their hips, if one was really going to get funky.”

Of course, it makes perfect sense. I just don’t think I’d put it all together before.