George Clinton may well be the funkiest man on earth. James Brown is gone from us; Sly Stone plies his trade only rarely; Dr. Dre has largely turned his attention to entrepreneurial matters. These four men form the funk Mount Rushmore, and of them, only Clinton was able to turn his deep-grooved musings into universal, interplanetary calls for getting down.
Whether it be on his own or as the ringleader of the various entities in the Parliament-Funkadelic stables, Clinton explored the full possibilities of jammin’ on the one - emphasizing the first beat in a rhythm, adding crazy bass lines to boost the bottom and building ridiculously cool monuments of and to funk from there.
Here are but five of the many, many examples of his artistry:
Parliament, "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)" (from Mothership Connection, 1975): It’s hard to conceive of West Coast hip-hop in the ‘90s existing without this track, considering how many songs fed off multiple elements of just this one cut. When most listeners think of Clinton, they think of this one.
“Atomic Dog” (from Computer Games, 1982): “Bow-wow-wow yippee-yo, yippee-yay”: the clarion call to innumerable parties and party jams. Fueled with blippy early-’80s synths and undercut with a tasty bass line that’s also probably a synth, “Atomic Dog” showed listeners at the time that the solo George Clinton was still a force in funk; the ensuing years have proven that assertion true.
Parliament, “Up for the Down Stroke” (from Up for the Down Stroke, 1974): If there were a Church of Funk, this jam would kick off every service. Let the choir sing ...
Funkadelic, “Good Old Music” (from Funkadelic, 1970): In addition to feeding DJs’ needs for cool breakbeats (particularly with the first couple bars), “Good Old Music” provided funk practitioners with an undeniable anthem, a rallying cry to groove.
Funkadelic, “Trash a Go Go” (from Cosmic Slop, 1973): Cosmic Slop doesn’t get the props that Mothership Connection or The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein get, but it’s a monster of a record, as you can hear on this wild storm of a track. It’s short but definitely to the point.