August 30, 2007
He’s got the funk
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic come to Portsmouth
By Erica Febre firstname.lastname@example.org
Considered to be one of the most sampled artists, right behind James Brown, George Clinton has embraced many titles throughout the years, such as “Prime Minister of Funk,” “Godfather of Funk” and “King of Interplanetary Funksmanship.”
But the one title that undisputedly belongs to him — leader of Parliament Funkadelic.
Hitting New Hampshire after a performance in Providence, Rhode Island, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic will headline the 11th annual RedHookfest at Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth on Saturday, Sept. 8.
After the performance in New Hampshire, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic will hit up the House of Blues in Chicago and Cleveland.
Clinton could easily be described as a man of many words — even if most of the words are made-up words that can only be found in the “Funkcyclopedia,” a categorized collection of some of these made-up words.
But when it comes down to business, and music is his business, he’s ready to talk seriously.
Clinton talks from his hotel room in Las Vegas prior to a performance:
Before we get to talking about the music, will you tell me, what do all the cosmic references and all that other talk really mean?
Well, you know, I’m not from this planet. I’m from the dog star Sirius. We’re all children of light but a lot of people don’t recognize themselves. The funk is here to remind people. You know how they call it “the force” in Star Wars? Well, the funk gives you the ability to deal with anything that you have to deal with. You do the best you can and then you just say “funk it.”
So what do you mean when you talk about the “mothership”?
The mothership is what we travel on. It’s the Earth and the whole rest of the cosmos. It’s cloaked but you can see it every now and then. It’s the whole galaxy. It’s accessed, not by virtual reality, but as it is, so shall it be. If being is what it’s about, I is.
Do you consider yourself a religious or spiritual person?
I believe [in] what most religions are attempting to do. I think most religions attempt at helping us see our way through whatever this is all about. The intentions of most religions are right but I think love is the only unconditional change. Love always is. As it is so shall it be. Free your mind, your ass will follow. That’s the whole key to everything.
So do you think one day we’ll be living off the planet Earth?
Oh yeah. We’re working on that right now. I also think we can go back and forth through dimensions. I think we can live wherever we want to be. I think all of that is possible, but we just don’t know it — yet. Anything we can think about is possible, let’s put it like that.
To the music — it’s said that you are one of the most sampled artists of all time. How do you feel about your music being used by so many different types of artists?
A lot of them were just doing it at first without asking and just hiding it. But the ones that are really faithful to funk are proud of doing it and they just did it outright. I really was just glad they did it any way they did it. I had a lot of fun working with a bunch of them, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They were bringing back the old style of funkadelic from the ’60s. They’re real faithful to the funk and I would love to work with them again. The rest of them, like the hip-hop artists, I enjoy working with them because they kept the funk alive as well. I just did a [track] with WuTang. It’ll be on their next album. Funny thing is, we’re just now getting some of those royalties from a long time ago. Some of them paid for it but we weren’t getting most of the money for it back then. We also have a reality show that we’re getting ready to do that’s going to be talking about all that stuff. It’s going to be on BET. All the artists are coming on, like even the ones who got overcharged for using [samples]. So we’re calling it a royalty-statement party. Everybody is going to bring their statements and show how much they were charged to use my music. They might get something back, or I might get some. It’s all in fun though. We can’t find out from the management behind the scenes how much they charged. So, we’re going to find out directly from the artists how much they charged them. That’s going to be the reality part of the show, everyone finding out how much the music was really worth.
So which artists are you still hoping to work with in the future?
Funny thing, I’m trying to get Enimen and Michael Jackson together. I’d like to get all three of us together. Or, myself and Sly with Prince. I think either of those combinations would be funny. Of course, I could always do something with someone old-school, like Motown, or some New Orleans people, like Stacks. Or the rock ’n’ roll. I’m pretty tight with all the different genres. I just like to mix them all up. Right now I’m doing a lot of Motown songs over again. Doing a bunch of the old doo-wop songs with all sorts of different people.
If you’re known as the Godfather of Funk, then who is the great-godfather?
Well, James Brown or Ray Charles. Yet I would have to say James Brown first. Even though Ray Charles was as funky as he wanted to be. All around, I’ll put it like this, for me, it would be Sam Cook. Then Motown. The classics pretty much. I don’t think you can get better than any of them, in overall music. Sam Cooke, to me, was the greatest singer of soul and anything else he wanted to be. Of course, Ray Charles and James Brown were like, good God — you’d have to go all the way back to the ’30s and ’40’s to get that much soul, with the old blues singers. Which I actually didn’t like when I was growing up. I didn’t appreciate them until after hearing all the great rock ’n’ rollers like Eric Clapton and all of them talking about them. Then I felt bad as hell not knowing who they were.
So then who would be the godchildren?
The new ones, huh. Oh my God. I’d have to put them mostly in the hip-hop world — Mystical, Eminem, Rahkim. Rahkim is probably the greatest rapper ever. Mystical just because he is so funky. He’s probably the funkiest hip-hop rapper there is. I think anybody would agree with me on that one. He’s just ridiculously funky. And you know Prince is the king of the funk bands right now. My grandson is also getting me into the new things out there now, like Tool and all of those kind of groups. So I’m just learning all of that stuff now. He’s 19. The funk bands aren’t the same as some of today’s stuff. There are bands nowadays that are just real slick.
Does the Funkcyclopedia include your entire vocabulary?
Actually I haven’t looked at it cause I’m not much of a computer buff. But there’s gotta be much more than that though cause I know they didn’t get off into some of the stuff on the albums. When you get into the album versions, they’re funny as all hell. There’s some words that I can’t even say. A lot of the fans will actually read the entire album and they know them better than I do. It can take you months to do it but I’ve met fans that can tell you every single line from every album.
George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic discography
• Computer Games, Capitol Records, 1982
• You Shouldn’t-Nuf Bit Fish, Warner Bros., 1983
• Some of My Best Jokes Are Friends, Capitol Records, 1985
• R&B Skeletons in the Closet, Capitol Records, 1986
• The Cinderella Theory, Paisley Park Records,1989
• Hey Man, Smell My Finger, Paisley Park Records, 1993
• Sample Some of Disc - Sample Some of D.A.T., AEM, 1993
• Testing Positive, AEM, 1996
• Dope Dogs, XYZ, 1998
• How Late Do U Have 2BB4UR Absent?, The C Kunspyruhzy , 2005
The full Funkcyclopedia is available at georgeclinton.com.
• Aquaboogie: Underwater throwdown.
• Cosmic Slop: Dancing with the devil to pay your bills.
• Dr. Funkenstein: Master technician of Clone Funk; outer space tribal leader of the descendents of the Thumpasorus Peoples.
• Electric Spank: High-tech pimping of human instincts by the power brokers/jokers that be
• Funk: Used to be a bad word. Irreducible essential pulse, life force, hyperventilatin’ Groove. Not only moves, it can re-move; will sit and sit and never go sour.
• Funkadelica: Throbassonic realm where nothing is good unless you play with it and all that is good is nasty.
What: Redhookfest celebrating the brewery’s 11th anniversary
Where: Redhook Brewery, 35 Corporate Drive in Portsmouth
Who: George Clinton and Parliment Funkadelic. Bad News Brown and The Press Project will open.
When: Saturday, Sept. 8, doors open at 1 p.m.; music runs 2 to 7 p.m.
Tickets: $25 in advance; $30 at the door
For more info: Call 430-8600 or go to www.redhook.com.