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When asked what inspires him, funk legend George Clinton says, “Any music that I hear parents say, ‘That ain’t no music.'”
The 70-year-old artist says the music that young people gravitate towards, that sounds awful to adults, is always what’s up and coming.
“Kids love the music that their olders and brothers and sisters hate. They want to get on your nerve with it. And that becomes the new music, every time… That was the beginning of rock and roll,” Clinton told Here & Now pop culture critic Renee Graham.
Clinton is at the Berklee College of Music in Boston this week to receive his honorary doctorate degree. He took some time to practice with Berklee’s P-Funk Ensemble, which he’ll perform with Thursday .
‘Love What You’re Doing’
Clinton is also giving some career advice to students.
“Love what you’re doing,” he said. “If you love what you’re doing, it’s not a job.”
Clinton is being honored at Berklee for his music contributions over the last four decades.
As the head of the funk, soul, and rock music collective Parliament-Funkadelic and as a solo artist, Clinton has shaped generations of musicians with songs like “Tear The Roof Off/Give Up The Funk,” “One Nation Under a Groove” and “Atomic Dog.”
In 1997 the “Godfather of Funk” and 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2002 Spin Magazine voted them #6 of the 50 Greatest Bands of All Time.
The DNA Of Hip Hop
Clinton has also been sampled hundreds of times by pop and hip hop artists from Snoop Dogg to Girl Talk. He is said to be the second most sampled artist of all time.
Clinton says that though funk may not have gotten the respect of other musical genres, its influence can be heard in hip-hop.
“Hip hop is funk. Funk is the DNA in hip hop. And hip hop is everything that music wanted to be,” Clinton said.
“To me, funk music lifestyle is: do the best you can, and after that, funk it. That’s playing in a band, you go to school, learn all the technology, the intellectual part of the music. But when you get right down to it: funk it.”
From Hippie To Establishment
Clinton says he never anticipated being embraced by the mainstream.
“I didn’t know I was going to be in there,” he said of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“I was from that old hippie school of music. You don’t want to be a part of that establishment and all that.
“But when you get there and you run into all of your peers that you started out with… Like I ran into The Rascals and The Jackson Five, Michael — I knew them when they first came to Motown. He was like nine years old,” he said.
“We had so much fun going over all of the history that we had been through together,” he said.
Music From This Segment:
George Clinton “Atomic Dog”
Parliament “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up The Funk)”
Funkadelic “One Nation Under A Groove”
De La Soul “Me, Myself and I”
Funkadelic “(Not Just) Knee Deep”
Parliament “Flash Light”
Renee Also Recommends:
Parliament “P.Funk Wants To Get Funked Up”
Parliament Mothership Connection (Star Child)
Parliament “Chocolate City”
Parliament “Up For the Down Stroke”
Funkadelic “Can You Get To That”
Funkadelic “Maggot Brain”
Parliament “Bop gun (Endangered Species)”