George Clinton Talks About His Favorite Parliament-Funkadelic Samples

Many of hip-hop's greatest producers—from Dr. Dre to the Bomb Squad—have built classics using the P-Funk architect's blueprint.

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Complex Original

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As the boogie-down ambassador of cosmic slop and knee-deep funk, 70-year-old George Clinton has been waving his freak flag since the daze of acid flashbacks. A roaring Leo born on July 22, Clinton has been freeing our minds since dropping “(I Wanna) Testify” in 1967. 

While that introductory track showed the influence of Motown's rhythm nation, once the former barber and conk creator from Plainfield, New Jersey began dropping acid, the visual sounds in his head bubbled to surface. He soon changed the music game by taking funk music to the extreme and spearheading the bugged collective known as Parliament-Funkadelic.

Although big poppa James Brown was the first to introduce the world to “the one,” JB was always more earthbound while George Clinton and his crew of musical misfits went soaring through space in their Mothership, taking Black music to the outer limits of rock and soul.

Connecting with a diverse audience that flocked to each release as though was it was funky revival, Parliament-Funkadelic's mob of rotating musicians—including guitarist Eddie Hazel, bassist Bootsy Collins and keyboardist Bernie Worrell—inspired a generation of recording artists, writers, painters, and thieves.

"Clinton is an artist, innovator and a pioneer," producer Hank Shocklee once said. "Funk is in the DEA of hip-hop and Clinton is the backbone." Although boom-box kids like Shocklee's Bomb Squad, Dr. Dre, and Prince Paul have heavily sampled P-Funk classics like “Flash Light” and “Atomic Dog,” Clinton says that he has been bamboozled by a few shady industry folks and as a result receives no royalties for many records built on his work. “I’m suing everybody right now including Bridgeport Music and Universal Records,” he says from his home in Tallahassee, Florida.

But all the drama hasn't stopped him from doing his thing. Fresh off a collaboration with rapper/producer Aleon Craft, Clinton is currently working on a new solo project featuring gospel singer Kim Burrell, RZA, El DeBarge, and Sly Stone. The rainbow-haired grandpa was sharp as a stiletto when Complex spoke to him about his game-changing tracks.

Written by Michael A. Gonzales (@gonzomike)

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Funkadelic "Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow" (1970)

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Album: Free Your Mind... And Your Ass Will Follow
Sampled On: En Vogue "Free Your Mind," X-Clan "Earthbound," Kris Kross "Freak Da Funk"

George Clinton: "That song was done when we were going from the Motown structures to psychedelic. We made that turn and it ended up being a key song for us. When I was working with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, they told me that 'Free Your Mind' and 'Maggot Brain' were their favorite tracks."

Parliament "Mothership Connection (Star Child)" (1975)

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Album: Mothership Connection
Sampled On: Dr. Dre "Let Me Ride," Warren G and Nate Dogg "Regulate," Digable Planets "Escapism (Gettin Free)"

George Clinton: "Dr. Dre sampled that and has had a few hits with my songs. From the early days of rap, West Coast artists have sampled our stuff, and I love it. Of course Dre is one of my favorites, but I also like what BattleCat and Warren G. have done with my records."

Funkadelic "Funk Gets Stronger (Killer Millimeter Longer Version)" (1981)

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Album: The Electric Spanking Of War Babies
Sampled On: Digital Underground "Fool Get a Clue"

George Clinton: "Sly Stone is my nigga. He sang with me on the original track. People don't know it, but Sly still working on his music; he got some bad stuff coming out soon. Right now he is in rehab, but when he gets out I'm getting him down here to Tallahassee to work on some music with me. It's not about me helping him, but both of us helping each other."

Parliament "Flash Light" (1978)

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Album: Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome
Sampled On: Del The Funkee Homosapien “I Wish My Brother George Was Here

George Clinton: "Ice Cube is another one of my favorite West Coast rappers and he's used my songs a few times. I'm a fan of his work with NWA and as a solo artist, but I also dug the production work he did on his cousin Del the Funky Homosapien's first album I Wish my Brother George Was Here. He sampled 'Flashlight' on there and a few other songs throughout the album. He had used 'Flash Light' before on his album Death Certificate, but there was something about that Del record that stayed with me.

Funkadelic "(Not Just) Knee Deep" (1979)

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Album: Uncle Jam Wants You
Sampled On: De La Soul "Me, Myself and I," Tone Loc "Funky Cold Medina," Dr. Dre "Fuck Wit Dre Day"

George Clinton: "When De La Soul used this song, Tommy Boy gave me $100,000. That was one of the first samples that I was paid for. As for Dre, I've worked with him since the beginning of his career. He's used every song we had out. Him, Snoop, Cube, 2Pac, all of them have always been cool with me. In fact, I first met Pac when he was still working with Digital Underground. A few years ago, Interscope Records bought Casablanca, which was the label where Parliament orginally put out 'Knee Deep.' Since then, they've used our songs at will, which is one of the reasons I'm currently suing them."

Zapp "More Bounce to the Ounce" (1980)

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Album: Zapp
Sampled On: EMPD "You Gots To Chill," The Notorious B.I.G. "Goin Back to Cali," Roxanne Shante "Trick or Treat"

George Clinton: "A lot of people don't realize I did that whole song and Roger [Troutman] overdubbed the talk box. Roger hated the song, he hated it. I had signed Zapp to my label Uncle Jam, which was distributed by CBS Records. Later, Troutman stole the master tapes from me and signed with Warner Brothers Records, who I was fighting with at the time. A year later, Troutman came and apologized and we were cool after that."

George Clinton "Atomic Dog" (1982)

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Album: Computer Games
Sampled On: 2Pac "Holler if You Hear Me," Public Enemy "Brothers Gonna Work It Out," Pete Rock and CL Smooth "The Basement"

George Clinton: "When I first put that record out, the first under my own name, the record company told us that it didn't go gold, but it has since helped a lot of other artists go platinum. The guys from Public Enemy have always been my favorites, because when they sample my music they were really clever and made new arrangements from the songs. I loved the way they used the funk."

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