Stylistic origins Gangsta Rap, P-Funk, West Coast Rap, Funk, Urban Funk, R&B
Cultural origins Early 1990s, Los Angeles, California, United States
Typical instruments
Mainstream popularity
Derivative forms
Fusion genres
Regional scenes

G-funk, or gangsta-funk, is a sub-genre of hip hop music that emerged from West Coast gangsta rap in the early 1990s. G-funk (which uses funk with an artificially altered tempo) incorporates multi-layered and melodic synthesizers, slow hypnotic grooves, a deep bass, background female vocals, the extensive sampling of P-Funk tunes, and a high-pitched portamento sine wave synthesizer lead. The lyrical content depended on the artist and could consist of sex, drugs, violence, and women, but also of love for a city, love for friends and relaxing words. There was also a slurred “lazy” way of rapping in order to clarify words and stay in rhythmic cadence.

Unlike other earlier rap acts that also utilized funk samples (such as EPMD and The Bomb Squad), G-funk often utilized fewer, unaltered samples per song. Music theorist Adam Krims has described G-funk as "a style of generally West Coast rap whose musical tracks tend to deploy live instrumentation, heavy on bass and keyboards, with minimal (sometimes no) sampling and often highly conventional harmonic progressions and harmonies". Dr. Dre, a pioneer for the G-funk genre, normally uses live musicians to replay the original music of sampled records. This enabled him to produce music that had his own sounds, rather than a direct copy of the sample.'

Albeit G-funk was birthed in Los Angeles, the popular sub-genre drew a large amount of influence from the earlier Bay Area-based sound known as Mobb music of the mid to late 80s pioneered by legendary Oakland rappers like Too Short. Too Short had experimented with looping sounds from classic P-Funk records over bass heavy tracks during this period. However, unlike Bay Area Mobb music, Southern California-born G-funk used more portamento synthesizers and less live instrumentation. Too Short's lazy, drawl-heavy delivery was also a major influence on later G-funk superstar rappers like Snoop Dogg.

There has been some debate over who should be considered the "father of G-funk". Dr. Dre is generally believed to have developed the sound, but Cold187um and KMG of Above the Law have claimed that they originated the sound. They claim that Dr. Dre did not credit the group for pioneering the style when he released The Chronic, his Death Row debut album. They both released records on Ruthless Records prior to this. Warren G and Snoop Dogg were with Cold187um before joining Dr. Dre and Death Row. On Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle album, Warren G and Daz Dillinger claim they produced "Ain't No Fun", even though Dre is credited as the album's sole producer.

The earliest use of sine wave synthesizers and Parliament-Funkadelic-style bass grooves in Dr. Dre's work appeared on N.W.A's single "Alwayz into Somethin'" from their 1991 album Efil4zaggin. Dr. Dre's first true G-funk single, however, was 1992's "Deep Cover", the title song from the movie soundtrack of the same name, which also introduced Snoop Dogg to the world. It was Kokane who appeared on the Deep Cover soundtrack with a song that was produced by Cold 187um called Nickel Slick Nigga, there was a video done for & a remix of the song was done by Dr. Dre. When Dre's 1992 Death Row Records debut The Chronic was released, the album was immensely successful, and consequently made G-funk the most popular sub-genre of hip hop.

Another early G-funk pioneer, also from Compton, was rapper and producer DJ Quik, who was already using P-Funk instrumentals as early as 1991 in his debut album Quik Is the Name, though his most recognizable G-funk album would be 1995's Safe & Sound. Other well known singers that used G-funk were Nate Dogg, the Dove Shack and the Twinz. Warren G's first album was called Regulate...G Funk Era.

G-funk lost mainstream popularity after the late 90s, as hip hop became influenced more by the Dirty South. However, during the late 2000s and early 2010s, it started to become revived by underground West Coast rap artists and is recently seen on some mainstream albums.


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