Book Review – Brothas Be “Yo, Like, George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?”
by George Clinton
Funkateers, rejoice! It’s here, and I’ll say right at the top that it does not disappoint! The long awaited autobiography of George Clinton, aka Dr. Funkenstein, is out! With its somewhat unwieldy title and written by George with Ben Greenman, it’s the life story (at least so far) of the genius of funk; the bandleader, singer, songwriter, producer and chief crazy of Parliament, Funkadelic and all the other associated groups that remade the sound of 70’s and 80’s Funk, R+B and even to a certain extent, Rock music. (Full disclosure: I have been for many years, a dedicated, dyed in the wool Funkateer, even back in the day, sometimes dressing as various P Funk characters for Halloween!)
The early part of the book, covering George’s early childhood in rural Virginia and Plainfield, New Jersey, moves kind of slowly, to my taste, but once he gets rolling with the origins of his early Motown-style group The Parliaments, (later renamed just “Parliament”) it moves along at a nice clip. Without giving away too much, I can tell you that it’s all here, everything dedicated Funksters expect and more; how he went from cutting hair and styling “do’s” in his barber shop to performing on the world’s biggest stages. Familiar with the old phrase “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll?” There’s PLENTY of that, too, along with insights into George’s sometimes tumultuous personal life and the crazy backstage scenes populated with all the musicians, promoters, record business types, dj’s, groupies and assorted hangers-on that you’d expect and some you never would! You get to meet the whole entourage and see how it grew, amoeba-like, to finally encompass nearly half a dozen groups made up of most of the same 30 to 40 musicians, singers and dancers in different combinations and with different niches within the P Funk universe.
As you may already know, George Clinton also has been involved in a number of legal disputes involving his rights to his music, label contracts, sampling, etc. He devotes a good amount of space to telling his side of that. It’s a cautionary to young artists starting out about the business side of the business. As much as you love writing, recording, performing, you MUST pay attention to that side, too!
As with most autobiographies, since its release, there have been statements made by some people mentioned in “Brothers Be Yo, Like, George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?” objecting to their portrayals or disputing the accuracy of some of George’s recollections. Don’t let that stop you from checking it out. You don’t have to be a Parliafunkadelicment Thang fan to enjoy it. It takes a little time, at 416 pages it’s not a quick read, but it’s a fascinating glimpse into the mind of George Clinton, and to me, very informative and enjoyable, well worth the time spent!