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The Fathership Connection, George Clinton, and the Double Dose of Funk

I have a record collection.

The portion of my record collection that I consider “Top Shelf” is really just the albums of my parents I was able to successfully steal. For the most part they didn’t mind until they wanted to listen to one of them. My Dad had a small group of albums that he was able to keep me from appropriating. Mostly gospel records by The Mighty Clouds of Joy, James Cleveland and the one oddball in the stash was Parliment - Mothership Connection

The best way I can describe my father’s demeanor is Lawrence Fisburne’s character Furious Styles in the movie “Boyz N Da Hood”.

When I was young he was very stern and serious. There were breaks in the seriousness, but he never ventured too far from the strong and proud black male role. I wanted to make sure to paint a little bit of a picture for you so you can see how strange it is to come across hardcore funk music themed in all levels of creative freedom, and black musicians not jumping in, or allowing America to place them in “a box”. My Mom fills in a lot of the empty space in my mind on my father’s personality because she knew him before I was born, and always viewed him as an adult person. To me , he’s only been my Dad, doing and saying all of the dad things. It’s hard to imagine the brother deacon minister Herman Core at a Parliament Funkadelic concert, but he was definitely there.

George Clinton was being interviewed at the Township Auditorium here in Columbia, SC and my friends had an extra ticket for the discussion and meet and greet. As I was listening to Mr. Clinton speak he became more relatable. His music career was born out of New Jersey, but he was born in North Carolina, as was my Dad. His middle name is Edward, as was my Dad’s and mine. In him telling his story not only did I see the Parliament Funkadelic legacy all throughout music, but I also felt like I got to know my Dad a lil bit more, and that made me excited for the meet and greet.

I was waiting in line with my friends having good conversations and cracking jokes but inside I was a nervous wreck. What do you say to someone so responsible for influencing 90 percent of the music you grew up listening to?

When it was my turn to meet him he noticed my graphic T-shirt and said “What’s up Star Wars!” which was a great ice breaker and took away some of the anxiety. Then the familiar happened.

My Dad had a way of greeting people when he was sitting down . He would stretch his arm and place his hand palm side up for you to grasp. It wasn’t for a hand shake, it was more of a hand hug. That’s exactly how Mr. Clinton greeted me and to add compliment to pleasantries his hand felt exactly like my father’s hand. It made me wonder if Mr. Clinton spent summers picking tobacco like my Dad. It felt like many times me stopping by to see my dad after work and the hand hug that happened while he sat in his favorite chair as he watched CNN. That funkadelic hand hug allowed me to open up for the brief meet and greet. I got to tell Mr. Clinton how the same time I was discovering his music in my Dad’s record collection, I was also experiencing the golden era HipHop music that was sampling him. From DeLa Soul - Me Myself & I to Dr. Dre - Let Me Ride.

His response to that story:

“Oh, so you grew up with a double dose of Funk!”

in honor of my Dad, here is a Playlist on Apple Music

Thank you Mr. Clinton, Thank you Dad, and Thank you for reading.

Thank you God for making me feel seen and considered every day.


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