“It Sounded Silly as Hell”: George Clinton on Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”
You can't talk about hip-hop without talking about George Clinton. Especially for west coast hip-hop, the godfather of funk was a huge influence both directly and indirectly on artists, and so it felt like a passing of the torch of sorts when Clinton appeared with Kendrick Lamar on TPAB's "Wesley's Theory," a sign that Clinton respected Kendrick as someone carrying on the tradition of the funk.
But in a new interview on Pigeons and Planes, Clinton reveals that he wasn't always such a Kendrick supporter. Or to be more precise, he thought that Kendrick's music was silly.
"I knew 'Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe' and thought it sounded silly as hell when I first heard it. It’s a hit record but you have to wonder, 'Why the fuck is it a hit record?' But you know, after I met him and talked with him I realized it’s just his era of communication, and he had a lot of other stuff to say. He was saying things in brand new metaphors that I knew was going to fuck people up."
First, it's crazy to hear someone so openly look down on "Bitch Don't Kill Me Vibe," which to a younger generation is almost unquestionably considered a great song. It kind of feels like someone telling you that peanut butter is made from rocks.
Second, let's just take a moment to acknowledge that George Clinton, a rainbow-haired man who routinely performed next to Bootsy Collins and Garry "Diaper Man" Shider, called a record silly. But while that may at first seem hypocritical, one of music's most beloved "weirdos" seemingly dismissing another artist's music as weird or silly, Clinton goes on to openly acknowledge that even as mind-bending as he is, he still falls victim to old man syndrome on occasion.
"I’ve always made it my business as a songwriter to keep up with young people that pay attention to song, even if older people think it’s the corny shit, that’s what they supposed to think, they getting old. I look for stuff that gets on my nerves; I know it’s going to be the next big thing when it gets on my nerves."
Really, it's a good lesson of what Yoh just wrote about so powerfully in terms of self-doubt. Artists can't expect universal acceptance and support, even their heroes may look down on them, even when those heroes were looked down upon in their day. The truly great ones persevere anyway, trust themselves and their music, and more often than not, if they make music they truly believe in, all those doubters will eventually come around and at least understand the vision.
Beware the vibe killers my friends.