While lawsuits and the mounting cost of clearing samples theatens the essence of hip-hop, the practice of creating new sounds from old records has got a strong ally. “They’re trying to kill hip-hop, but hip-hop is the clone of funk,” says the Captain of the Mothership himself, George Clinton. In an unprecedented move, Clinton is selling samples from his vast library of master tapes directly to rap producers.
As the genius behind Parliament-Funkadelic in the 70s, Clinton’s visionary sound paved the way for hip-hop, and he remains, to this day, one of the form’s most samples artists. Graciously acknowledging this attention, he says that when he first heard hip-hop, “It blew my mind. I knew the funk was gonna come back, but it blew my mind.” Now, after a year of work, Clinton has licensed all the P-Funk tapes—some 300 reels (and 500-700 songs) in all—which contain live material, out-takes, different versions of classic songs, and previously-unreleased tracks. He plans to release a series of records which include this wealth of funk starting in November. “We gonna put the record out so everyone can sample,” says Clinton. “You can’t kill hip-hop.”
The recent suit initiated by Bridgeport Music against Terminator X for his use of P-Funk tracks on the Valley of the Jeep Beats LP hastened Clinton’s efforts in acquiring the P-Funk catalogue. Supporting Terminator X and Chuck D on CNN, he denounced the suit by Bridgeport Music, who control some of his copyrights. The matter was eventually put to rest, however, when P-Funk Associates, representing George’s fellow funkateers, prented a counter-suit. Of the situation, Clinton observes, “There’s a small amount of muthaf*ckas at the top that’s playin’ everyone against each other.”
In addition to reviving his older material, Uncle Jam is also back in the lab, distilling some of the pure, unadulterated funk that he knows best for a forthcoming release called Hey, Man, Smell My Finger. Humpty Hump guest stars on a cut called “Rhythm and the Mutha-f*ckin’ Rhyme,” and stalwarts Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell are also involved in the project.
And that’s not even it. Clinton’s One Nation Entertainment is working on a pay-per-view special called “A Funky New Years Hip-Hop Ball,” which Clinton describes as simply, “maximum isness.” To be broadcast live from New York, LA, and Atlanta, the bill hopes to feature P-Funk, Vernon Reid, Prince, Public Enemy, and Digital Underground. George is still funkin’ up the program, so stay tuned.