Is George Clinton a Pretender?… Shock G’s Open Letter Defending P-Funk

Shock G of Digital Underground found it necessary to pick up the pen and pad and respond to a recent damning article written by popular Soul Music Archivist Bob Davis of Soul-Patrol.com called ‘George Clinton and the Demise of Funk” In thjis article Davis takes Clinton to task for squandering his fame, fortune and influence. He also calls him a ‘pretender and a ‘bit player’ who hijacked the music direction being blazed by stellar artists Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis.

Bob Davis of Soul-Patrol.com says George Clinton is a Pretender who squandered away huge opportunities for us to advance

See for a lotta people FUNK starts and ends with George & in my mind nothing could be further from the truth and I suppose that I dislike the fact that he continues to receive so much adjuration for creating something that even he says he is not responsible for.One of the reasons that I discuss Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis here on the board is because the music that they were creating was where FUNK was headed circa 1971-1973. The influence that their music of the late 60s & early 70s has had over the past 20 years is nothing sort of phenomenal. It was kind of like music for a new generation and it was totally different from what had come before. This music was heavly influenced by the music of Sly Stone and James Brown and was primed to lead the way into the future.

George Clinton was little more that a “bit player” in all of this.
Funkadelic was just a “black rock” band that was the opening act at shows. They would be performing with the lights still on and people still coming in & trying to find their seats. Its no accident that Jimi & Miles were planning to hook up. These two revolutionary “brothas from another planet” both knew that the time for a change had arrived and that they were going to lead that change.

Unfortunately by the time 1976 had rolled around…Jimi was dead..Miles was “sick”….Sly was in his own world..& James was being hounded by the government!

None of these innovators was recording music at that point. There was a vacuum and that’s what George Clinton stepped into. When he transformed Funkadelic into Parliment. George knew exactly what he was doing. all he really did was to take the music of Miles, Jimi, Sly & JB and “commercialize” it.
He took simple rhymes that had been a part of “Black Vernacular” (See ebonics in the PC dictionary….lol) and put them to music rooted in the tradition of Sly, Miles, JB & Jimi.
In addition, George made up a bunch of cartoon characters (coon show???) and said they were funkateers. (some might even say that George “sold out !!)
This was a very different take on what Miles, Jimi, Sly & JB were trying to promote. George was only interested in making money. And make money he did …..GOBS of it !!!

Davis continues with this missive…

How much blame should George Clinton shoulder for Urban America indulging in cocaine?

George had the very “army” at his disposal that everyone else from JB to Miles to Sly to Jessie Jackson to Julian Bond to Jimi Hendrix all wanted to be the General of..(the generation of “funkateers”).
He was even in a position to influence the 1980 election & he said nothing (I think he was too busy “cashing” in to even to notice that there was an election going on too busy promoting his pro drug agenda, at a time when there were not only “bigger fish to fry” but during a time when here was a GOVERMENT SPONORED PROGRAM TO COMMIT GENOCIDE AGAINST BLACK AMERICANS BY FLOODING URBAN AMERICA WITH RELATIVLY CHEAP COCAINE AND DERIVITIVES.But enough of the past. today the act known as “George Clinton & TheP-Funk All Stars” bears little resemblance to the mighty force that dominated Black music in the late 1970’s.
I have seen them live within the past year and they were awful. I get reports from all over the place from fans who have been disappointed by the performances of the group at recent shows. Their performance on TV at the Sinbad Summer Jam was an abomination. I was personally embarrassed!
But ol George just keeps on pumping out bogus albums and bogus concerts. In my opinion he is perpetrating a fraud against younger music fans who keep expecting the “real deal” from him and don’t even know they are being ripped off.

In short..George Clinton broke my heart ….:(

Davis concludes..

We have sat by and watched an entire generation of people who squandered the gains of the Civil Rights Revolution because of their need to be “sedated” by Cocaine during the 1980’s. The “Maggot Overlord” played a role in this during that timeframe because of his public endorsement/support for using the drug.
Surely Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, etc did not die in vain so that the Maggot Overlord could allegedly peddle drugs to children from the stage?

Now here he is, as we approach the end of this century allegedly publicly promoting and even worse drug in crack. Many of us are sitting here in our 40’s and above, with children of our own, we can’t afford to sacrifice yet another generation of young people to the scourge of someone who is supposed to be providing leadership for the future, who instead chooses to be an active participant in the GENOCIDE of our people.

Personally I don’t care if the “Maggot Overlord” (or anyone else) wants to blow his brains with a crack pipe. Just let him do it in the privacy of his own home and away from my children.

-Bob Davis-

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OPEN LETTER REGARDING “THE DEMISE OF FUNK”
BY: SHOCK G

Not a pretender, not at all.

What we have in George Clinton is an enabler.

George’s gentle guidance liberated the musicians around him and drew the best out of them. George is the glue that held Parliament Funkadelic together, the mediator/referee who provided the “space” for Bootsy, Bernie, Gary, Michael, Junie, Eddie, Fuzzy, Glen, Fred and Maceo to create from and be their freest.

The best leaders leave the people thinking they did it themselves, and inspire them to their highest potential; precisely George’s role in P-Funk.

Now, as for the later cocaine-abuse period, I believe that functions more as a coping mechanism, aiding the bigger sacrifice; his continuance to tour and create budgets and sessions, and his tireless juggling act of keeping a family of 60-to-a-hundred people working every year.

I’ve been on tour with them this past decade, as a guest vocalist, and their rooming list was 60 names deep, every member with their own room. The tour I was on, back in ’02, had 4 tour buses, and 2 separate production trucks. Those great musicians you speak of, who gave their life blood to the funk through the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, are now adults with families, bills, grandkids, –many many mouths to feed. Meanwhile, their lives aren’t geared to earn a living any other way besides workin’ in P-Funk, which they each gave 20 to 40 years of their lives to help build.

We must realize the great sacrifice being made by George to tour and continue to work well into his senior years when most people his age retire and opt to spend time at home with their immediate families.

If George doesn’t tour, the frontier for P-Funk members becomes sketchy, and the threat of homelessness becomes very real. You think they don’t know the shows aren’t as tight and crisp as they were in their youth? You think they’re not aware that these most recent albums aren’t as creatively cutting edge or as relevant as their heyday material?

Of course they must. But what choice do they have, a cashier job at Walmart? Or playing at the local church? And it’s not only age, changing times, or substance abuse that causes these records to rate by comparison; it’s also the lack of lucrative working budgets, strong label support, well-connected and ambitious management, fresh energetic musicians, new equipment, etc–all the things that existed for them in their era but now belong to Jay-Z, Diddy, Black-Eyed-Peas, Snoop, G-Unit, Dr. Dre, & whoever.

Still, when P-Funk tours, it employs over a hundred people, from the musicians, managers, guitar techs, publicity people, roadies and merchandisers on the road, to the local office and field promotion teams involved, many of whom are veteran P-Funk members & lifetime contributors. If George quits, where do they go?

He probably would’ve loved to have had time away from it, I’m sure he’s contemplated it a few times.

Sly Stone

Consider Sly Stone‘s decision to not tour or perform for all those decades, but rather hide away and do his drugs in seclusion, to the disappointment of his fans and band members.

Consider the many ex-members of Barry White‘s Love Unlimited Orchestra, walking around LA for the past 20 years out of work, or barely surviving on session work (I personally know a couple of ’em),  some doing jobs that are not even music related, with no connection to the great legacy they helped build.

No disrespect or blame to Barry or Sly (I love them both, their talent and contributions to the world are enormous!) but the decision to stay home and live a simpler life may have been all they could handle mentally, physically, spiritually; who knows? Every man’s tolerance level is different, so perhaps they opted to retire, and take care of their immediate family, rather than continue to carry the weight of an entire organization like George is still doing today, even as I write this, selflessly sacrificing the victorious-grandpa home life for the greater needs of an entire organization. (He’s a Great-Grandfather too, by the way).

As for that 1970’s “movement” –the struggle against racism, the FBI, and Cointelpro– don’t knock George’s huge contributions just because his were different then Malcom’s or Huey’s, or Gil Scott’s, or The Last Poets’.

George’s approach was decidedly less militant, more Zen Taoist in nature, more introspective and personally active. Almost Buddha-like. George functioned as a living example of unity, employing vast networks of artists.

Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron on the other hand, who I caught live at Kimbles East in Oakland in the 90’s, and who was equally cracked-out (must’ve weighed 110 pounds), had 4 people on the road; his 3-piece act and a manager.

Lyrically, George’s contributions to the human condition are immeasurable, urging us to “free our minds so our asses can follow” and discover the “Kingdom of Heaven within” all of us.

“By Any Means Necessary” is but one approach, an approach which often led to more violence, pain and grief for all involved. One could also ponder, would cheap drugs had even been pumped into the hood if the Panthers & similar organizations hadn’t scared the shit out of the FBI and unknowingly provoked it?

In spite of all this, George was well aware of another rarely-acknowledged truth: Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr, Bill Cosby, Sidney Poitier, Berry Gordy, Arther Ashe, Muhammed Ali, and Dr. J all lived in the same America that Malcom -X, Huey Newton, and Gil Scott-Heron did, though they had very different perspectives about social limits and opportunity.

Where Tupac felt “trapped in a white man’s world”, Diddy felt boundless in that very same world. As Tupac believed it would, this “hopeless” world did him in; and as Sean Combs believed, the world was his, and the sky was the limit.

There’s no better example of “Free your mind and your ass will follow” than that.

Malcolm X

As a teenager and college student in the early 80’s, my homies and I used to love gettin’ all pumped-up on Malcom-X and Stokely Carmichael speeches, and we’d pledge to one day do something major for the struggle, like rob a rich corporation, or bomb a courthouse.

But the cosmic revolution not only challenged those feelings, it exposed them as dark tension-filled energy. Funkadelic’s mood and message always soothed the soul, loosened tension, and fed the intellect: “The desired effect is what you get when you improve your interplanetary funksmenship.” (even as kids we caught the bigger meaning: Acknowledge things beyond your immediate surroundings to live a richer, happier life).

It was broader than the usual revolutionary rhetoric, less demanding, more fun, and appealed to the basic humanitarian that dwells inside all of us.

“Everybody’s got a little light under the sun!” Wow, it was also less exclusionary, and invited all the races, (“One nation under a groove!”)  Even the animals seemed welcome, and sometimes George even inspired us to ponder the meaning of life in general– “Why must I feel like that, why must I chase the cat?” –which is a great accomplishment: to get kids to contemplate life beyond their immediate surroundings.

But most of all, it always seemed fueled by love rather than anger, or rage, or self-defense, or revenge, so it simply felt better in the heart. George offered cool, colorful and humorous solutions: “He just can’t find the beat, (the rhythm of life) so flash light! Help him find the funk!”

While Gil Scott, Marvin Gaye, and Curtis Mayfield opted to spotlight the ills (“What’s goin’ on? Fred is dead!”), other artists adored those very same years, like Stevie: “I wish those days, would, come back again…”

While the FBI/Panther reality dwelled in a racist, segregated, crime-ridden world plagued by war, some of us were busy celebrating our “Chocolate City” and danced our way out of our constrictions as one joyous nation under a groove thanks to George’s beautifully open and optimistic mind.

Digital Underground

That alternate world delivered Dr. Dre to his producing dream, Denzel Washington to the top of the box office, Prince to his magic Purple Kingdom, and allowed me to spark a place called Digital Underground and declare Peace and Humptiness to all!

In hindsight, I’m thankful that in addition to the straight-laced messages of say, Earth Wind & Fire, or the soulful messages of James Brown, we also had intellectual daredevils like Hendrix, Miles, and George to walk the outer edge for us, to experiment in the studio with acid and mushrooms, to risk their own health and sanity and bring us back all those amazing sounds, colors and philosophies.

These people went to war for us, physically and mentally, and are recognized and appreciated by many as real-life royalty-

Royalty earned, and not just because of whoever their parents happened to be. And like all geniuses, George has his flaws; his vulnerabilities. But what’s so different about his crack habit than Billie Holiday or Jerry Garcia’s heroin habits? Or Jimi Hendrix’s any-drug-he-could-find-that-day habit? Or Bob Marley’s weed habit?
The only difference I see is that George somehow survived his habit into his 70s, while the rest of their hearts gave out much sooner. (R.I.P.)

Bravo! Last man standing; the mighty, mighty Dr. Funkenstein! Not just standing, but standing on stage, giving, performing, traveling, and leading the greatest and largest funk band in the known Universe, PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC!!

Of course lately they can be a little rusty or uninspired up there airy-now-n-den, but that’s okay, us true fans, we allow it, because we can all imagine and appreciate that life inside of P-Funk probably ain’t no cake-walk either.

Chaos. Mayhem at times. The inside competitions and feuds are probably unbearable to the average musician, only the strong survive in P-Funk. Even Bootsy had to step out a few times, and catch his breath for a year or two. The truth is, most bands couldn’t endure what they’ve lived through (more live shows than the Rolling Stones or Grateful Dead.) Most of us can’t imagine the level of patience it requires to exist in a band of that size and essence. Think 6 basketball teams, including the bench, all traveling together, with their grandkids in the band, still doing a show per night to sold out audiences to this very day.

That’s P-Funk.

Parliament

P-Funk isn’t just a band, it’s a phenomenon.

And George is for sure an extraterrestrial, the magnetic centerpiece to that phenomenon, who’s earned the right to do whatever he pleases in most of our eyes. Especially as long as he chooses to remain in the driver’s seat and take on such a mammoth responsibility, one in which he navigated for 50 years strong so far without complaint.

How many men in this world would stay in there and do that? Plus, have you ever actually been around P-Funk? These dudes are not your average Bar Kays or Kool & the Gang, nowhere’s near that normal or orderly.

We’re talkin’ some of the weirdest & most intense cats in the business, misfits. Most producers wouldn’t even work with some of these cats, but George welcomes ’em all, communicates with all their quirks and personal languages, and pulls a coherent performance out of them each night.

Managing P-Funk probably has the stress-level of managing 3 or 4 Wu-Tang Clans at once. Between touring and the studio, George hasn’t taken a break since the 1960s, so I think we owe the man a little cred here:

Some 90 or so albums-with the common lyrical thread of self empowerment, upliftment, humor, optimism, and mental liberation-running through all 90 of ’em.

Never an arrogant, cruel, or self-centered lyric through all his work, never talked down to his audience, always approachable and charming in person, and never used his platform to chase pussy. Also, he never imposes any rank when speaking with his bandmates, treats everyone with the same respect, young or old, new or 50-year veteran.

George Clinton is a true class act, an artist of immovable integrity. I’ve never been around a person with a more peaceful vibe, who’s mere presence relives tension in whatever company he’s in. He’s also one of the most influential poets of the 20th century, his magical wordplay and phrases still circulate today within the hip-hop, electro and rock communities.

And finally, he will go down in history as one of the great composers and arrangers of our time. He was not the last person to put his touches on their greatest songs, George was often the first person to touch it, the creative spark who set the ball in motion. “Atomic Dog” was one of those: in his first take he laid all his vocals as they are now in the song in one continuous take, improvising all the memorable hooks and key melodies that became the song’s theme.

“Flash Light” is another in which George was the first voice to touch it, even before Bernie’s keyboards. When George sung over it, it was just drums and guitar strumming; no bassline, no space-organ, no moog synth squeaks and chirps yet, and no group vocals. The essence of those two songs is all George, notice the keyboards following his lead next time you hear it.

Another one, not only the lyrics, but the chord changes to “(Not Just) Knee Deep” was George-inspired;  he already had the words & melody years before it was recorded, it was something he used to sing to himself. He sung it a cappella to Junie one day, who figured it out further on the keyboard, finding the chords & adding the bassline.

Quiet as it’s kept, most of the classic P-Funk hits, it’s George’s essence that rings through the most, that thing that makes it recognizably P.

Soooo not a pretender. On the contrary, he was the ears, the visionary, and the primary lyricist responsible for 90% of the P-Funk song titles and words.

Okay, and while we’re at it, one more juicy little-known gem about the man: He’s responsible for the rhythm arrangement of “More Bounce to the Ounce” by Zapp(!!) Yes, George Clinton, in a little bit of a fluke, a little studio savvy, and a bit of luck, actually gave Roger that sound, that formula that Roger went on to use on his next 3 follow-up singles; “I Can Make You Dance”, “So Ruff, So Tuff”, and “Dance Floor”, That chunky stutter bass against the thick handclap? Zapp & Roger’s signature sound and main money maker? It was a George Clinton creation. (Doh!)

Very true. That sound is the result of George cutting a 2-foot long piece out of the 2-inch multi tape, flipping it around backwards, looping it to itself, and then slowing it down to the current speed of “More Bounce”. Apparently, Roger’s original groove was faster and a lot busier. They said it was in a vein like his “Heard it through the Grapevine” song: fast and choppy with a busy chord progression, and the bass was all over the place, an elaborate melody.

George, who was producing Roger’s first album for his new Uncle Jam label that year (which is another fascinating story: how the crazy older brother Larry Troutman sneak signed the group to Warner Bros. behind George’s back while he and Bootsy left the studio to get food. Yes, the same crazy brother who shot Roger dead 10 years later.)

Anywayz, earlier that day, while Zapp was still set to be the first new act on George’s label, George got concerned that Roger didn’t have anything they could use as a single yet, and that he needed something simpler then what he had heard so far, and that’s when he performed the tape trick.

The new slower piece in reverse created the rhythm and melody that became the infamous “More Bounce” kick-drum and synth-bass “B-B-Bomp CLAP-Bomp-Bomp” arrangement. With a smile George said “That’s all ya need right there. Just build the song around that”, and the rest became that beast of a record. If you listen closely, you can still hear the backwards bass & drums underneath; that was the first thing they started with, and then began overdubbing more tracks on a second 2-inch machine.

They told me that Roger also had about 10-times the lyric content he wound up using and that George convinced him to eliminate most of it and just keep repeating “mooore boooounce” they way he did. I was told this first hand by Boogie the bass player and Gary Shider, who were both also there that day.

And speaking of George’s Zen-like integrity; get this:
-after he had a verbal agreement from Roger and had been grooming him for months to be the first release on the new Uncle Jam label, and also after producing a good portion of his album so far, (including literally creating “More Bounce” for him), after all that, when George returned and learned that a Warner rep had showed up, went in the back room with Larry and Roger, talked him out of signing with George’s label in 5 minutes they said, and signed him directly to Warner–

They said George looked at them with disappointed eyes that said “Really?” looked down at the ground for a second, shook his head no, shrugged and said “Well, so much for that”, and turned around and walked out the studio.

The remaining P-Funk cats walked out after George, and I think they said Bootsy was the only one who stayed behind to help finish producing it, which is why Bootsy’s name appeared in the credit.

But yeah, George gave that classic song it’s essence as well as named the group “Zapp.” He never sued or spoke about it again, he just let it go, but I heard he was sad and heartbroken by it, as he had a friendship building with Roger prior to that incident.

Okay, ’nuff said.
George is THE dude basically.
He’s the genuine article, and has well-earned all recognition he’s ever received and beyond..
He is a rare and true artist of artists.

Peace, love, & humptiness 4eva,
and thanx for allowing me to introduce you to Dr. Funkenstien.
-Shock-G
(of 2Pac, digital underground, Luniz, Saafir, Murs)

“Think, it ain’t illegal yet.”
— G.C.

original article http://rimemagazine.com/article/1331/shock_g_drops_knowle

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Comments

  1. Wow,… Is all that can be said!! George is thee artist – artist… The ears and innovator of funk theory from the engineering aspect to the language development, as well. Powerful insight Shock G, POWERFUL…

  2. I’m not saying Bob Davis is the BIGGEST clown I’ve ever come across in my life.. it’s a wide world. But he’s up there.

  3. Two great articles. However, I think that they missed two critical points; escapism and Blaxploitation.
    Everyone should read two books:”A Riot Going On” and “Funk.”

    Even with groups like the Beatles, some have suggested that escapism whether it be via religion or drugs was used to divert attention from politics.

    Also Peter Dogget in “There’s a Riot Going On” writes about how record labels got together in the ’60’s to find a way to market the revolution.

    Also, we have to look at the Blaxploitation period which may very well have been used to take the energy from the Black Power movement as a social political force. The question of the role that P-Funk might have played cannot be overlooked. Remember the cover of Funkadelics “Uncle Jam’s Army”

    Now in Hip Hop terms, we must remember that while Public Enemy was “fighting the Power” Digital Underground was doing the Humpty Dance. Same flava; different era.

    TRUTH Minista Paul Scott
    Militant Mind Militia

    • Some of that is a bit over simplistic Paul.. yes, escapism and exploitation at the hands of the industry have always been there.. There isn’t one period of time they weren’t.. and the lines in the sand were never Black and white..In short some of the most militant cats in the world were exploitative (toward women) and partook in lots of escapism..(did drugs, had women etc)
      Not every militant cat was on the ground serving and not every escapist artists was absent from the front line..

      Case in point Digital Underground.. and PE.. I know both groups quite well.. they’re all friends and have been for along time..DU started out as a militant Black beret wearing Panther like group called the Spice Regime…They only changed up bc PE came out and owned that space around the same time.. So Shock refocused the group to highlight the funk aspect which is what they way were gonna be a cornerstone of Spice regime…. Their first songs were just as Pro-Black and in fact maybe even more than PE.. ‘Life’s a cartoon’ is one example..

      The Humpty thing was a blessing and a curse.. DU had plans to introduce Humpty on the second or third album.. They had a bunch of concepts that they had laid out which included building up the DU brand and Empire ala P-Funk. In other words groups within groups and be one big family with Shocks alter egos. MC Blowfish, Humpty, Piano man and others all be introduced over periods of time..

      DU was initailly Shock, Chopmaster J and Kenny K (RIP).. DJ Fuze (then known as Gold Fingers ) and Money B were a from a completely different group called MGM.. They only became apart of DU when MGMs manager Sleuth started doing work for Shock and the two groups merged..Pac was part of another group and he later joined and there was Pee Wee Big Money Otis etc.. who were a part of a group..

      Humpty only came on because when the group handed in their album, Kraftwerk refused to sign off on a sample Shock had used and they were left a song short…They had to come up with one last song.. that of course was Humpty Dance and it blew up beyond belief…breaking all sorts of records in terms of sales.. The song was so huge that it changed the way the public wanted to engage the group.. Shock who was always conscious and very political would show up at interviews only to have DJs be disappointed and asking where was Humpty.. (many didn’t know-Shock and Humpty were the same)..If u look at the first album.. Sex packets, Humpty’s not pictured.. He was just gonna be a character who heard on a couple of songs..

      With all that being said.. what was not lost was DU’s political activities, much of which they leveraged via their popularity.. First they were surrounded by some very political cats. Their bodyguard, Pac, Money B’s dad who was a Panther.. J, Shock and Sleuth were all political people

      Second, when it came to issues the group addressed them.. They showed up a city council meeting in 1989 when a moratorium was put in place at rap concerts in Berkeley/Oakland..During a KRS one concert two people got stabbed and the cities said no mas to rap.. A Local artists named Chill EB gathered up folks to come to a hearing. DU came down as well and threatened to un-elect the city council if they didn’t turn things around.. They were reminded that 2 million people were doing the Humpty Dance and that they could easily get a few thousand people in the city to Humpty dance down to the polls and vote them out.. Ban was lifted that night..

      later that year Shock set up a Black bone marrow organization..to fill a void that was missing in the community..DU wrote the check and stayed involved with it.. Of course them nurturing Pac was a big political step.. He was the Rebel of the Underground and the guy who would kick up dust…. The Trapped video is a prime example.. Songs like No Nose chop and wheres the love speak to their political ness.. During interviews they often talked about political prisoners and people in exile like Assata Shakur.. They were very very much aware..

      Lastly DU toured with PE..

      My overall point is that while PE said Fight the Power.. DU was also fighting it as well and in both groups we could elements of escapism.. and even exploitation.. Its who we are as a people..
      DU didn’t hold us back anymore than George Clinton held us back a generation before..

  4. One more thing:

    Shock G wrote:

    “By Any Means Necessary” is but one approach, an approach which often led to more violence, pain and grief for all involved. One could also ponder, would cheap drugs had even been pumped into the hood if the Panthers & similar organizations hadn’t scared the shit out of the FBI and unknowingly provoked it?

    I think that statement needs to be clarified. Is he blaming the the Black Power movement for the drugs in the hood?

  5. Peace Davey. To use Kwame Ture’s line of thinking, we can’t judge Marxists to judge Marxism nor Christians to judge Christianity, so neither can we judge the moral shortcomings of “militants” to judge the Black Power Movement. I am talking about principles and political ideologies.

    Yes, escapism has always been a part of music but I am talking about the protest movement that came out of the counter culture of the 60’s.

    The war that the “establishment” waged on the artists of that era is well documented. But what about the Nixon-Reagan Era. Was there a concerted effort to subvert the Black Power movement and did P-Funk play a role whether knowingly or unknowingly.

    • Paul i have no idea what kwame’s assessment means to what were talking about..Simply put there was wars going on to stop subversive actions always.. Clinton caught it, The Panthers caught it, my mom and dad caught it.. anyone who was against the status quo caught heat.. Clinton was not the leader or even close to it.. he didn’t move society to do drugs..he didnt stop other musicians from stepping up..

      In the 1970s Heron, angel dust and later freebase/cocaine were big time drugs.. The number one pop culture seller of those drugs was DISCO.. not George Clinton.. Free unihibitited sex, bad economy and access to drugs was what the 1970s was about.. There was drugs at the early Hip Hop parties I rapped at and attended.. many of the pioneers came out of it with major drug problems.. very few.didn’t.. bambaataa was one who escaped that..

      The war that was waged was real clear.. take out the Panthers and launch a war on the youth.. Pop culture was a distraction at time, but it was also a stimulating force as well..What started to change in the 70s was what was played on radio at least in NY.. Disco was the language, u was lucky if u heard George Clinton

  6. Thank you so much for this, Davey. I’m hugely influenced by George Clinton (and Digital Underground by extension) and have been pumping massive amounts of P-Funk this summer particularly in light of the passing of Garry Shider and Catfish Collins (RIP).

    Funk is such an important genre because embedded in it is the intention to spread a political message in a way that still tickles our human aspects (i.e. laughing and dancing). Not everyone can relate to rallies and speeches, or even overtly political music. George is a genius in this respect. His animations and costumes that Bob Davis calls “coon-toons” are creative ways to provide an alternative to traditional political settings. But black pride, community solidarity, and opposition to war are common themes in all of P-Funk.

    For those who need a more “militant” account of Clinton’s work, look no further than the album “Uncle Jam Wants You” or “The Electric Spanking of War Babies.”

    Or how about one of my favorite songs ever, “Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts” by Funkadelic – George’s life philosophy laid down ever-so-clear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmAQHjs4b3E

    Artistically, George was one of the first “old school” icons to not only tolerate hip-hop’s sampling of his music, but has been hugely active in hip-hop’s development. He is considered a personal godfather by Afrika Bambaataa, Snoop and Big Boi. It would be a chore to list all the classic hip-hop tracks that lifted something from P-Funk (Parliament’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep” is the culprit of both De La Soul’s “Me Myself and I” and 2Pac’s “Ambitionz Az a Ridah”). George Clinton a pretender or bit player? It’s utterly silly to entertain this thought any further.

    Thanks Davey and Shock G for bringing light to this.

  7. Davey, I was referring to what you wrote about “militant cats abusing sisters and so forth. The point is, I am talking about an ideology not specific incidents of right or wrong doing by individuals. My contention is not Clinton’s drug use or his promotion of the lifestyle.

    My question is, based on the political climate of the time, was P-Funk used as a ventilation device to let black folks blow off steam in a less threatening, politically apathetic manner? It’s not like there are not historical precedents of this being done.

    • Paul the answer to ur question is all of US were used.. All of Us..If there was a progressive/ revolutionary ideology, very few were true to its tenets..What I was pointing out is that some may not have held the ideology but they did work.. Others quoted the ideology but didn’t do the work..H Rap brown talks about this in one of the speeches he did for us at Pacifica.. Clinton was part of a music industry and culture that was being influenced and driven by outside forces..Brown talks about the role of entertainers..

      But what I was talking about was to the degree that impressionable minds embraced drug culture.. Clinton was low man on totem pole..It was disco and the culture that went along with it.. Clinton in my opinion was much more subvsersive with his material..Like Shock I disagree with Davis’s essay I think he unfairly burdened him with something that impacted all of us..

  8. Understood. The drug thing wasn’t on my mind, as I wouldn’t put that on George. (However, the role that Ruthless and Death Row played is another subject for another time.)

    I have always been interested in the politics of P-Funk and like Davis, what would have happened if the Funk Mob would have been politicized. Yes, we have all been used by the Capitalist blood suckers but we must study how it was done. The said thing about COINTELPRO is that we did not learn from past mistakes. I think that discussions like this are healthy when we deal with facts instead of emotions. Maybe if we understand Funk we can understand Hip Hop.
    I asked Bob about his article earlier today and he hipped me to a lot of funk facts that I did not know.

    • You should also talk to Bambaataa, Shock, Kool herc.. and most importantly Ricky Vincent.. they are definitive Funk experts.. go to Rickey site http://www.rickeyvincent.com/
      He has lots of game for you as well.. George was politicized.. he just didnt fight the fight Davis and some may have wanted..same with Shock.. Shock ain’t Chuck..but he made a difference..

  9. there’s no excuse for bad behavior and smoking crack is not only bad behavior. it’s just stupid, plain stupid. condoning bad behavior is accepting bullshit because an excuse is made.

  10. Bravo Shock-G and Bob Davis needs to be spanked. While we all are entitled to our opinions, I think it is beyond distaste to have only negative things to say about a person or incident.

    I joined the P-Funk organization in 1974 as photographer and became Art Director of Uncle Jam Records, George’s doctor and also have officially co-written and produced music with him. Undoubtedly George Clinton is a deserved icon whose contributions to millions (including mine) are immeasurable. Could he do more…YES, he’s still trying and standing on the verge of peeling back the scores of wrong doers who, by his free spirit and good nature, have locked up much of his earned wealth from his career.

    As a forcaster of things to come, George (who I think is an empath) gathered and still gathers some of the most brilliant minds on the planet through his magnetic aura to deliver positive messages, while enticing a patting of the foot…a beating of the heart…a clearing of the soul.

    To counter Bob’s points, I was with George visiting Miles at his Malibu home, who was an admitted fan. I was with George in the studio when Sly walked in and asked, “damn…y’all do that shit straight?”

    So if Bob wants to see more from the Doctor…stay tuned and get out of the way. If you find that thinking is illegal, then take the ball and chain to jail and catch the bullets of the Placebo Syndrome.

    As I said to Sly, after breaking one of his pipes (much to his dismay), “brother you have touched and influenced millions…so whatever you do, don’t let it do you…BUT don’t jeopardize my freedom. No one can judge what it takes another to do their do, only make choices when they get their turn.

    nuff said

  11. @Steve. Judge not lest ye be judged. Aside from that, no one in this blog endorsed crack.
    Calling George Clinton a “bit player” is like saying Bill Gates has nothing to do with computers. It’s just plain stupid. He’s an uninformed hack who could needs to figure out how to use spell check. What a goof. I’ve worked with Malia Franklin (Parlet), and am friends with Overton Lloyd. Believe you me, this guy just has no clue of what he’s talking about. He mentions that Jimi and MIles planned to hook up, and it was no accident. Bull. That had everything to do with Betty Davis and it wasn’t some idea that they came up with. This dude is just a straight up liar or misinformed. Soul_Patrol is officially irrelevant at this point. Shock G (Greg) is on point, and thank you Davey D for your insightful retort.
    @Bob He commercialized Jimi and MIles? Are you freaking kidding me? I think it might be YOU Bob Davis, that needs to put the crack pipe down.
    Check out Mathematics of Love by George Clinton ft. Kim Burrell and then get back to me on how he’s putting out wack music. Dissing George and calling yourself Soul-Patrol is like calling yourself a revolutionary and dissing Malcolm X.

  12. @Davey I read the Funk book and and it is definitely a must read as I wrote in my initial comment. As far as Bam, I don’t know him, personally, and I have really never been clear on the Zulu Nation’s official position
    on Black Nationalism, either. As you know, there is a distinct difference between being “militant” and Black nationalism.

    Once again, my main source of contention is not the drug issue but the political issues raised. I think Shock G’s statements regarding the “By Any Means Necessary” people need to be clarified, as he seems to be blaming the Black Power movement for provoking the Feds to put drugs in the Black community.

  13. e-scribblah says:

    wow…..blaming george clinton for the crack epidemic is a little bit like blaming jimi hendrix for LSD.

    P-Funk were a force in black music long before 1976, a to reduce parliament to commercial hitmakers completely misses the point. the first parliament record was released in 1970, making them contemporaries of Miles and Jimi. a lot of their stuff wasnt very commercial at all, despite the fact they did have hits and did sell records.

    i’m kinda waiting for Rickey Vincent to respond, but i will say that without P-funk, there’s much less of a reference point for hip-hop to sample from, and there’s also a whole lot less funky music.

    could Bambaataa have made renegades of funk without p-funk?

    could PE have made bring the noise without the funkadelic sample (Get off your Ass and Jam)?

    could de la have made me myself w/out knee deep?

    is there a humpty dance without let’s play house?

    the Nose knows: no.

    besides, One Nation Under a Groove is one of the best records of all time. ever.

    to reduce George to a crackhead is like reducing Mingus to a hophead.

  14. e-scribblah says:

    PS IMO ‘who says a funk band cant play rock music’ is one of the more brilliant commentaries on the politics of the music industry (and thus the racial politik of Amerikkka) ever made…

  15. …Bob has us talking and acknowledging…and that’s a good thing.

  16. Hey Bob. Quit hating. Blacks bashing blacks. This is why we are always behind in everything because of hating brothers like you. What have you done that is noted that I can read about. STOP THE HATE and help a brotha out!!

  17. Great article! I didn’t know Shock G had so much powerful insight into the life and contributions of George Clinton. He certainly danced circles around Bob Davis’ one-sided, misguided point. Now after thinking about it, I can see how P-Funk greatly influenced DU. Even though there are no space ships landing on stage anymore or top10 hits for the group, I still make it a point to see the band perform every year when they hit town. Now, really knowing how George carries many of these musicians on his back, I’ll be even more willing to offer my support next time.

  18. P-FUNK!!!

  19. midnightman84 says:

    I agree with Shock G. Long live George Clinton and the P-Funk!

  20. This is a reminder to how we can forget where we used to sit. Once you accomplish something, planted the seed and saw it grow you can go do what you want cause whatsoever has grown and is producing will continue doing so with no end in sight. Ask the tomato that fell to the ground and rotted. He’ll say “I ain’t dead cause I am full of seeds and each one will produce its own vine full of tomatoes which will be full of seeds and the potential of doing the same thing. George Clinton got so many growing in his garden to even speak otherwise is ludacrackist in itself. He has done what no man has done before and that’s changed the music business and the organization thereof. We had some greats before George but we are emulating his actions to this very day. Spin-off acts are one one of many seeds he planted. Without it, no Master P organization, no Prince and the Time, no 2Pac, no Snoop Dog and the list is too long to say I’m wrong. No Bootsy? Can’t imagine the every band for itself no more concept. We started reaching back to get others due to Dr. Funkenstein. His credits are endless. No Roger and Zapp? They are using his influence on music today on just about every record out there. No hip-hop survival kit aka the heavy sampling done in the late 80’s and early 90s by most rappers featuring P-Funk influence. No black rock coalition. P-Funk, overlord George Clinton, saw fit to change into something we were afraid of and did it very successfully. Who said a Funk band cant play Rock? Jimi kicked the door off the hinges and P-Funk tore the roof off the sucker so we all could get in the house. It was and still is wide open. Reminder, before there was a thought of our system of thinking about drug, dope etc we tend to forget for thousands and thousands of years before Plymouth Rock, man had remedies for altering his mind. Most were for spiritual purposes. Where were we taken on the Mothership? Got baptized underwater and not wet? George Clinton opened our minds to being one in a billion in the universe. I’ll fly away, swing low sweet chariot. If you didn’t get what was done thru him, UNCF Funk Festivals etc, then you are missing out on relativity in your community and in the universe itself. Be thankful he was sent to do what he did. So many prospered from his contributions to a point it is almost illegal to say negative and get you jail time for speaking against George Clinton or any man of his caliber. The End. Any question?

  21. Ken Reiter says:

    Thanks Shock, for so eloquently putting forth what needed to be said. PFunk changed my the music I listen to and probably my life, (they’re pretty much tied together.) In ’79 I took a friend to see Zeppelin & he took me to see PFunk. I won that trade. Growing up deep in the North Woods of Wisconsin I’d not seen nor heard anything like it before. Now I’m 55 have seen George play 29 shows, some pretty bad, some great and TAPOAFOM in Milwaukee was the best show I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen 1000’s of shows of every type of music. I’ve took my kids when they were younger and with a little luck maybe someday my grandkids too. There is no other musician that has opened me to so much music and influenced my life so much.

  22. Okay I believe everybody is entitled to his opinion, but to say that Gorge Clinton is a sell out is ridiculous. He ope4n doors that allow artist and groups to become there own bosses, he sold the same group to several different label and not only was he successful he also was able to profit from it. I get kind of tired of hearing that when someone makes a shit load of money that means they sold out. Normally the one labeling are not as successful as the one they are labeling and it causes the fans to question the credibility of the artist, Hammer was at one time a hip hop master but when he was label as a sell out his popularity went down. His career was killed. Sock-G made a lot of valid points and IO agree with him. I think Bob Davis is trying to further his own career by taking down one of the GIANTS in George Clinton. With out the contributions made by Dr. Funkenstein there wouldn’t be a Hip Hop culture, yeah there were some funker before George but none of them and I mean NONE OF THEM was able to take P-Funk and being on the one to the Heights that Mr. Clinton did not even The God Father Of Soul himself.Here is a better reason that makes the ideal of George Clinton Being a sell out stupid he acknowledges the contributions of those that came before him Jimmy who died from drugs and alcohol Miles Davis who had a very public drug addiction Sly Stone still alive and no one knows why cause he should have died a long time ago. George Clinton is still kicking and fun kin up the places after all these years FUNK FOR LIFE “Like 9 cans of shaving Cream That’s Funky” (OP) So George continue to TEAR THE ROOF OFF THE MOTHER SUCKER….”.P- FUNK FOR LIFE”

  23. All of these commentaries are rich & interesting, I’m actually glad now that ol’ boy (Davis) dropped the stink-bomb and then ran, leaving us this grand Funkentelechy Summit in it’s wake. Kind words everyone, I appreciate it, and thanks Dave for finding & posting the original document. My only regret is that I failed to mention the brilliance that still exists in recent P-Funk albums & shows, and how the decades of experience has refined them into skilled masters of their craft. Don’t get it twisted, I’ve seen many shows over the years that were pure magic, like 2010 BB.Kings- NYC, or 2000 Sun Theater- Anaheim, or Woo Warriors 1998 Knit Fac- NYC, to name a few personal favs. Plus, they switch roles on stage effortlessly, like Prince in a recording studio. Respect!

    My original letter took that for granted.
    One nation!
    -SHKG

  24. its just a wind up, nobody is that dumb Bob Davis is clearly high on crack!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Shock G of Digital Underground found it necessary to pick up the pen and pad and respond to a recent damning article written by popular Soul Music Archivist Bob Davis of Soul-Patrol.com called 'George Clinton and the Demise of Funk" In thjis article Davis takes Clinton to task for squandering his fame, fortune and influence. He also calls him a 'pretender and a 'bit player' who hijacked the music direction being blazed by stellar artists Jimi Hen … Read More […]