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The trauma of enslavement upon the black cultural memory mobilized a sense of entitlement to embody something that was more than modern- a recupertive act that deemed ideal for embodying the science fiction trope of being alien. Relatable to the abduction and close encounters that slaves faced throughout the Middle Passage, extraterrestriality as an artistic device aptly materialized the experience of real marginalization whilst fantasizing the relief in escaping oppression, hovering in space from without boundaries.
The space alien trope used within the context of Afrofuturism coincided with the emergence of the science fiction genre and the participation of the United States in scientific space exploration during the s.
For Parliament Funkadelic, this trope is not only effective in its result of cultivating a sense of self and direction, but it also stakes a claim in artistic privilege and autonomy in that it obfuscates Kimberly M. Under the metaphor of creating a mythology for oneself, the performer has access to masks and other costume technologies that draw upon the fantastical and culminate in an identity that is unfamiliar enough to elude the confines of an absolute, definable persona.
Although the members of both performance groups did indulge in mild-altering drugs alongside their white counter-cultural peers, the serviceable use of the charismatic black church proved to be a captivating, alternative conduit through which the energy of the funk and the groove could flow to the masses.
During the late s, the black church provided a platform for the leaders of social movements to reach their audience. The sacred space of the church and the transformative powers that brewed from within became a secondary trope that Parliament Funkadelic used to mimic in their shows, as Clinton and Parliament were presumed to be inherently well-suited to portray the role of mystics or diviners, growing up in the black church.
Wright 46 As innovative expressions in music were delivered through the assistance of mystic spirituality and mild-altering substances, the curious aesthetic that Parliament Funkadelic subscribed to spoke to the youth subcultures of the s, as the sense of alienation took on a quite literal shape. As a result, this unintentional, expanded sense of being alien globalized the cultural impact of Parliament Funkadelic, bringing forth a new, more diverse audience.
Parliament gained first-rate status in live show ticket sales, becoming the first black arena act in popular music history. Aside from the cost of their stage productions, the Parliament Funkadelic live show realized a success in entertaining their audience with the theatrics of stepping out of bounds, and encouraged their listeners to free Kimberly M.
Bringing the elements of hope and charismatic ecstasy that could be experienced within the black church, the Parliament live show, compounded with the visual element of primitive-meets-planetary, embodied the concept of alterity to the extreme. In the process of subversive expression, the irony was that Parliament lost the ideological following of the black audience.
Figure 2. Despite the exclusion members of Parliament may have experienced within their own cultural community, they instead found prominence on stage for an audience that was in harmony with their message and emphatically engaged in the reverie of venerating the realm of a Parliament live show as a sanctuary.
The service that a Parliament Funkadelic live show provides is to act as a medium between the body of the audience member and the unstable energy of the groove, incurring a trance-like state amongst the diverse crowd.
Anne Danielsen, who goes in depth in her research on the temporal experience of the live Parliament Funkadelic show in Presence and Pleasure, emphasizes that Kimberly M. Employing mystical spirituality, utopian homelands, and a style all their own, Parliament insisted that the world you created could be the world you wished to see in your own lifetime. The ecstatic existential transport to the idyllic motherland that hovers outside of the bounds of our temporal landscape is a land that I am unsure if any of the members of Parliament Funkadelic would confess they have reached.
New York, NY: Palgrave muse. Macmillan, Danielsen, Anne. Presence and pleasure: the funk grooves of James Brown and Parliament. Middletown, Conn: Wesleyan University Press, Eshun, Kodwo.
Lewis, Van Dyke. McLeod, Ken. Accessed December 4, Often, five or six vocalists may sing "lead" on different songs on one album, with still other voices, sometimes altered by studio effects, popping up to offer commentary or cary along the album's plotline.
Group choruses skewer the tight soul harmony the Parliaments once practiced; voices in Clinton's arrangments go off at odd angles, spread across octaves, and range from nasal squeals to gospel bellows, yet still cohere to create a sense of unity more powerful for the diversity it encompasses.
The practical actualization of P-Funk's idealized community, in turn, occurs at the P- Funk concert, which centers around the active participation of fans, dancing in the aisles and chanting the P-Funk slogans along with the band on stage. At the P-Funk show I attended a few years ago, the shared love of the music among fans was so powerful that for the hour before the band even took the stage, the crowd spontaneously joined together in a series of a cappella chants -- something I've never seen at any other concert.
Once the fans have gone home, the challenge is to keep the sense of community alive through more mediated forums of communication. For P-Funk fans, the primary forum for this alternative public sphere in the s was black radio, which, as I have already discussed, in part found its own self-definition through P- Funk's music. Clinton directly addressed how radio creates this mass-mediated community in a series of raps on Parliament records in the voice of a DJ for the mythic radio station "WEFUNK.
And by taking on the voice of a DJ, Clinton was able communicate directly to his audience without the barriers of stage or song. Not surprisingly, many rappers have borrowed this conceit in their quest to find more direct modes of expression. As Barry Walters points out, Appropriately, the best Parliament records were about black radio and its ability to unify its audience through the airwave differentiation By parodying the slick black jock rap style, Clinton addressed his audience directly Parliament's concerts in the late s would begin with a strange monologue, spoken in the manner of the opening narration to a science fiction epic.
One version was recorded as the "Prelude" to The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein; a slightly different version is reprinted in the liner notes to Tear the Roof off the Mother: , a Parliament retrospective album: Funk upon a time, in the daze of the Funkapus, the earth was on the One.
Funk flowed freely and freedom was free from the need to be free. But soon there arose bumpnoxious empires led by unfunky dictators. These priests, pimps and politicians would spank whole nations of unsuspecting peoples -- punishing them for their feelings and desires, constipating their notions and pimping their instincts until they were fat, horny and strung-out.
The descendants of Cro-Nasal Sapiens fell in line, for their credo was "Get over by any means necessary. The descendants of the Thumpasorus Peoples knew Funk was its own reward. They tried to remain true to the pure, uncut Funk.
But it became impossible in a world woo'd by power and greed. So they locked away the secret of Clone Funk with kings and pharoahs deep in the Egyptian pyramids, and fled to outer speace to party on the Mothership and await the time they could safely return to refunkatize the planet.
The climax to P-Funk's concerts of the late '70s was the landing of the Mothership, signifying the return of the exiled Thumpasorus Peoples to earth. As the giant mock- spaceship was slowly lowered, the band would play the title track to Mothership Connection, which transforms the dream of returning to the Motherland of Africa into a journey across the galaxy.
Clinton's Signifyin g on science fiction, long one of America's most lily-white preserves, was a bold and original critical step. Also a trend-setting one; Mothership Connection appeared a year before Star Wars. There did, however, exist one other black musician who dealt in sci-fi themes: jazz giant Sun Ra, who claims to be from Saturn and is a major influence on Clinton's style, music and persona.
Most sci-fi universes, as Greg Tate points out, are "full of a zillion species of extraterrestrials and only caucasoid humans. They constantly have had to struggle to transform dreams into realities, to redeem, as it were, the core of possibility within fantasy. Funkintelechy Clinton's sci-fi storylines also served to thematize one way in which P-Funk was already charting a course into the future: through the use new musical technology. Cornel West points out, Parliament ushered forth the era of black technofunk -- the creative encounter of the Afro-American spiritual- blues impulse with highly sophisticated technological instruments, strategies, and effects.
Dre's The Chronic, contains copious P-Funk samples. As Mumbo Jumbo concludes, "Time is a pendulum. Not a river.
More akin to what goes around comes around. Motorbooty, Boehm, Mike. Bowman, Rob. Liner notes to Music For My Mother.
AEM Records, Carson, Tom. Christgau, Robert. Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. New York: Pantheon Books, Rock Albums of the '70s: A Critical Guide.
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Haskins, Fuzzy. Himes, Geoffrey. Jones, Leroi. New York: Morrow Quill Paperbacks, Kenny, Glenn. Robbins, Ira A. Marsh, Dave. New York: Plume, McEwen, Joe. In Rolling Stone, August 25, , Review of Mothership Connection, by Parliament. In Rolling Stone, March 25, , Review of Tales of Kidd Funkadelic, by Funkadelic. In Rolling Stone, December 26, , Mills, David. Morthland, John. Nelson, Havelock and Michael A. Orth, Maureen with Vern E.
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