George Clinton Discusses Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and the Future of Funk

"Funk has been able to endure because it's been handed down by way of samples."

george clinton

Image via William Thoren Photography

george clinton

In the current climate of hip-hop music, elements of '70s funk are quickly becoming a popular source of inspiration. Recent albums such as Childish Gambino's "Awaken, My Love!" and Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly update funk for contemporary listeners and help expand the scope of hip-hop's musicality. Funk legend George Clinton recently expressed his admiration for Gambino's work, explaining that he is "glad [Gambino] and others are bringing some new funk back.” Today, Clinton sat down with Rolling Stone to delve deeper into discussing funk's role in modern popular music.

Clinton began by reflecting on meeting Flying Lotus and Thundercat while working on Lamar's album, explaining that "they remind me of the 21st-century version of when Bootsy hooked up with Parliament-Funkadelic. They sound like the new version of that whole era. They've got the jazz version of that, and they're playing it themselves. Thundercat is a real great bass player." He went on to praise the work they contributed to Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, saying that their funk and jazz influenced instrumentation "gives a brand new life into the music of hip-hop."

When asked how funk has stayed relevant throughout the years, Clinton emphasized the importance of sampling. "Funk has been able to endure because it's been handed down by way of samples. The [Ice] Cubes, the Tupacs, the [Dr.] Dres, the Puffys, they sampled the music and kept it alive." He also explained that he has been able to keep his own career going strong by "getting along with the new ones that come along ready to put your ass out to pasture." Clinton concluded the interview by discussing his upcoming collaboration with Flying Lotus. 

Read the full Rolling Stone feature here, and revisit our interview with Clinton here.