When Parliament-Funkadelic legend George Clinton competed The masked singer This week, his Gopher disguise was undoubtedly far from the craziest outfit he’s ever donned on stage. Everyone seemed shocked by Clinton’s revelation—even his Paisley Park co-star Sheila E., who sat in with the house band that night—because, of course, dressing up as Atomic Dog would be too obvious.
But maybe ‘Robot With a Booty’ would have been a good costume…
of Clinton Masked singer His appearance actually coincided with this week’s 40th anniversary of his groundbreaking debut solo album, Computer games, and his lead single, “Atomic Dog,” which introduced him to a whole new (and new wave) audience. While many of Clinton’s peers rejected the technology of the early 1980s, the ever-forward Dr. Funkenstein embraced the digital age in 1982 as rap and electro grew in popularity.
“The computer was on my mind. … I could hear it coming from Kraftwerk and I could tell things were about to get new. … They hadn’t called it yet, but it was a new wave,” Clinton tells Yahoo Entertainment. “The first thing [old-school musicians] We worry that computers will take our place when it comes to instruments – which they have, to some extent. A lot of people are worried about the Mellotron! But I thought I’d just make it funky. If they were robots, then give them a booty and program them to be funky.”
For Clinton, Computer games it was a long time coming. “I’m always futuristic-minded and I’m old Star Trek geek, so I was waiting for the period when computers became what they are today,” he says, also noting that in the 80s, he became a huge computer game monster who “played Galaxian, Gallaga and Pac-Man, 24/7. … I mean, I started this [obsession] in ’68 when I went to go see Fantasia and 2001: A Space Odyssey and tripping over my butt. So I made a plan to watch out for it [depiction of the future] appeared, when you could talk to someone [on Zoom] as we are doing right now. I was waiting for computers to become a reality. And when I got to ’82, it was time to do it Computer games.”
Yet, Computer games it may have been a piece ahead of its time because MTV didn’t initially play the space-invading arcade-themed ‘Atomic Dog’ music video. “There weren’t really many black artists playing at the time. Michael Jackson was one of the first,” Clinton recalled. “I remember the record company asked me, along with Todd Rundgren, a guy from the Monkees, and someone else, maybe David Bowie, to get us all to do some videos when MTV first came out. They tried to get us to do videos together. But everything happened so fast [with MTV]. We didn’t think people would catch on so quickly.”
No one at Capitol Records, Clinton’s new label at the time, thought of “Atomic Dog”—the second Computer games single, following the equally significant Top 20 R&B hit “Loopzilla” — would catch on just as quickly. Despite the lack of MTV support, the sensational track eventually went all the way to No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B chart — ironically replacing Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” the song that broke the color barrier on MTV. “Atomic Dog” then held the top spot for four weeks. “He got big before the record company even realized he had such a big record,” says Clinton.
Clinton was as surprised as anyone since nothing was planned for “Atomic Dog.” In fact, when he recorded the track’s vocals at Detroit’s United Sound Studios, the backing music sounded backwards due to an engineering error — and he didn’t even notice it at first because it was “enhanced, or watered down, or whatever you want to call it.” laughs. Clinton remembers walking into the recording booth with little more than the word “dog” running through his addled brain.
“In those days, it was a tape recorder. you could actually flip the tape over and play it backwards, and it had a nice little distortion with the echo coming in first,” Clinton explains. “It was one of my days when I stumbled out, and I just got in there and sang against the late stuff. … The whole thing was advertising. I was trying to figure out what to sing when the song hit my ears. when i realized it was backwards i had to kill time to think of what to sing. So I’m sitting up there trying to think what’s key, what to say, and that’s what I’m talking about: ‘This is the story of the famous dog/For the dog that chases his tail they’ll be giddy/These are clapping, rhythmic dogs dogs/Harmonious dogs, house dogs, street dogs.’ Then I realized, This it was the track. I did a take for the main song, then I went back and just put in parts to harmonize and make sense. I took maybe one or two shots.”
Add in the earworm chant “bow-wow-wow, yippy-oh, yippy-ay,” and Clinton had a future classic on his hands (or feet). The result, which still sounds like the future four decades later, influenced countless Detroit techno artists and — along with, of course, the entire P-Funk catalog — defined “the DNA for hip-hop” and G-funk. According to Clinton, Parliament-Funkadelic is generally the most sampled artist of all time, recently surpassing James Brown, and says, “Actually, almost every hip-hop artist has a song with an Atomic Dog sample in it.” » Some of these more than 300 songs include Digital Underground’s “Doowutchyalike,” Dr. Dre’s “F*** Wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’), Public Enemy’s “Brothers Gonna Work It Out,” MC Hammer’s ‘Pumps and a Bump’, Nas’ ‘American Way’ and Ice Cube’s towering seven-track. But the most prominent use of ‘Atomic Dog’ is undoubtedly the interlude on Snoop Dogg’s catapult single for career “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?”, which Clinton says he recently re-recorded with Snoop and Dr. Dre.
While Clinton says he was “very well compensated” the first time his catalog was sampled, by De La Soul, “he’s just now getting ready to get paid for most of this stuff. We’ve been in the courts for 35 years trying to get it, and we’ve gotten none of it – none of it, really, since those days.” He says he hasn’t even been fairly compensated for “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?”, but he doesn’t blame his friend Snoop. “That was not on his part. it’s the record companies,” he emphasizes. “All the artists were good with it. … There was no point in fighting with the artists, because that’s how it goes. Fighting against [artists] it becomes the verbiage you hear on TV and becomes the main talking point, when it’s not. Actually it’s the lawyers and the record companies. … But now me too [civil rights attorney] Ben Crump, who’s my brother, we’re putting it all together now. It’s all coming together, and there’s going to be an inferno [legal decision] announcement we will make in the coming weeks.”
Meanwhile, Clinton has a new trick for the old “Atomic Dog.” He is set to release a remake in collaboration with the Black college fraternity Omega Psi Phi, also known as the Que Dogs, who use “Atomic Dog” as their step song. Also coming soon is a music video featuring Crump and other fraternity brothers, filmed at Howard University and Florida A&M University. And The masked singer It won’t be fans’ only chance to see Clinton, or his ilk, on screen. While it remains to be seen who will play Clinton in the upcoming Snoop Dogg biopic, he will be played by Wiz Khalifa (who wore a very P-Funky outfit as the Chameleon in The masked singer Season 5) in the movie Casablanca Records Spinning goldand Eddie Murphy is in talks to star in a George Clinton biopic.
And Clinton approves of both castings. “I like Wiz. I go to his cannabis situation in Vegas,” he laughs. “And Eddie is good. Play it Dolemite! And if you play Dolemite, you can play anyone.”
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