A cylinder of sandpaper lubricated with absinthe and garnished with Amsterdam’s finest hydroponic shrubbery are a few of the elements twisted in the strands of the vocal cords possessed by the Parliament/Funkadelic overlord George Clinton. Still carrying that playful psychedelic energy, he recently spoke about the return of Sly Stone to the public and broke down why the “n-word” and the “b-word” are inseparable from the funk. (“If you are bad, any word is a bad word.”) It’s not every day you hear a legend say, “Try to put out a record that everybody hates!”
Are things beautiful in life these days for you?
Oh yeah! One thing we are getting ready to do is go to Russia! We’re going to Moscow and a few other places over there, so that’s new for me.
As someone who’s been exploring sound for so many decades, have you ever felt like you reached the end of space? Have you ever lost your inspiration?
No, every time I come anywhere near that, somebody comes up with a new thang that makes me want to start all over again. As soon as I hear parents or older [musicians] say, “That ain’t music, that’s just noise!”, that means it’s a brand new thang that I got to go learn. So I never run out of anything to learn about.
How much do you use technology and the Internet? Where do you stand between digital and natural?
I tell you, I love everything that people don’t like, that people hate! I know that’s the next thang, so I make sure I find what it is kids like about it, cuz kids are going to love whatever you hate. I learn to appreciate it quick! The easiest way in the world of getting old is to think what you know is the only thing that’s worth knowing. Because you can always find out something new in it and mix it up better and do something new.
So, I gotta ask, do you want to paint the White House Obama?
Oh, it’s definitely going to be one nation under a groove with Obama! I mean, everybody right now is on his jock. I mean, he’s that breath of fresh air that’s going to unite everything. You find people that wouldn’t ordinarily listen to a black man and whatever he’s saying, but he’s the only one. I mean, people who would never vote Democrat are going to vote for him. People who have never voted for him before are going to vote for him. I mean, he’s got that thang on him!
What other artists give you the same feeling you felt when you first saw Frankie Lymon?
You mean new artists? Oh, the first thing: Sly. Motown period was like that for me. The Beatles was like that. Eminem was like that. Rakim. The Red Hot Chili Peppers. With these people, you know they are special.
You said Eminem?
Oh yeah. See, I knew him before most people did. I knew him before he had a record out. Yeah, his producers, Mark Bass, the Bass Brothers, recorded my son. So I been knowing Em since the early 90s, maybe 89. I watched him grow up into what he is, and he’s legit.
How about lately? Have you seen or heard from him? I hear he’s going through some difficult times.
I consider it life. Stuff that make you write real songs. He’s going through that thing. If you don’t have different kinds of inspiration, ups and downs and thangs, it would be boring. There would be nothing to write about!