Killer Mike Interviews George Clinton. They Keep It All The Way Funky (Video)
Killer Mike bought and launched the SWAG Shop when his music career was gaining momentum as a retail and real estate investment. Once an admitted hustler, Mike Bigga saw he and his wife’s shop as a lasting, legal venture that would also keep him connected to his Atlanta, Georgia community. “Uncle” George Clinton, the mastermind to Parliament and Funkadelic also has strong ties to barbershops… as a hairdresser at Plainfield, New Jersey’s Silk Palace. Like Mike, George wanted a legitimate path, and a music career…even if he and his shop-mates made counterfeit cash to support early trips to New York City as the original, Doo Wop-tinged Parliaments version of “(I Wanna) Testify” started to get traction on radio.
Together in 2017, Mike and George meet in The SWAG Shop (via NPR) to discuss barbershops, life, and music. Both men talk about barbershops as places where generations, politics, and religion can cross paths.
At 7:00 in, Mike asks George about his multiple fashion transformations at the late ’60s and early ’70s, from hair to wardrobe. Clinton believes more popular acts like The Temptations copied the forward-looking Parliaments. However, as he began assembling Parliament and Funkadelic, the Funk leader credits LSD with eventually leading his ensemble to wearing sheets and diapers, and defining a genre.
At 8:00, George Clinton explains how being a business owner allowed him years later to create what is remembered as a well-paying, well-distributed band. Earlier in the discussion, Clinton recalls over-paying session musicians in the ’60s at studio sessions, albeit with counterfeit cash (which he told them).
At 11:00, Killer Mike traces George’s lesser known ATL history. There, in the early ’90s, the onetime Capitol Records “Atomic Dog” star mentored the likes of Organized Noize, Dallas Austin, and Jermaine Dupri. Clinton laughs, remembering him being high, and thus talking a lot to the young audience. Mike links Organized to their star pupils Outkast, and thus says that Clinton’s mentorship perhaps affected his career. “I was discovered by Big Boi from Outkast and I’m sitting in this chair, simply because you were open enough to share the knowledge, the wisdom, and the experience with the people who gave me my opportunity. And I want to thank you for that.” Clinton admits that Rico Wade, Sleepy Brown, and Ray Murray inspired him to keep going through Organized Noize’s many collaborations with him on projects.
The discussion ends with Clinton explaining his view on message music. George is earnest and simple, stressing that premises be silly, memorable, and authentic. The iconic singer says he lives by his lyrics, with some examples.