*The thing about working for EURweb.com that I appreciate the most is getting the chance to write about people who were truly riding the cutting edge of their chosen genre and Bootsy Collins’ certain fits the bill.
We could sit here and run off some of the greats whose sound Bootsy Collins contributed to, like James Brown, Cyndi Lauper, Fat Boy Slim, Ice Cube, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phil Ramone, Snoop Dogg and George Clinton of Parliment Funkadelic, but you already know that. You know even if you don’t know.
Collins’ funk has been sampled so much in the past decades that you’re bound to have smelled it, even if you weren’t quite sure who dealt it. After a 5 year hiatus Bootsy is in back with a new album titled “Funk Capital of the World.” Everyone thinks they have some clue as to where that might be.
Some say it’s Chocolate City aka Washington D.C., while others say Harlem, NY has to be the capital and, least we forget, Fort Worth, TX ain’t dubbed Funkytown for nothing. During a recent sitdown with our Lee Bailey the legendary bassist told us where the Funk Capital really is.
“It’s really, to tell he truth, the funk capital is on the inside. It’s where you take it. Where ever you go with it. I did it (gave the CD that name) to have two or three different opinions on what it really is. For me the funk capital is inside. It’s always been inside and having the chance to let it out, where ever I’m at, that’s where the funk capital is at.”
That being said, the perpetrator of the funk tells EURweb.com that, by definition, it is of the Divine.
“It took me a while to tweak it a little bit as to where it really comes from and it comes from the One,” he explained. “The One that created the universe, and all that is inside. I had two or three other names for the album, but every time I threw Funk Capital against the wall it stuck. Everytime I mentioned it to somebody they said ‘Yeah!’ I wanted to make it so it can’t just be a city. I wanted to do my Parliment Funkadelic twist on it.”
The thing about the funk is it appears so complicated in it’s presentation, but it’s actually very simple to produce. But it’s actually deep in it’s simplicity. We think you might need an explanation and here’s Bootsy to give it to you.
“Funk has always been deep,” he explained. “If you check out any of the stuff we did back in the day with George (Clinton) and the Clones of Funkenstein, ‘Paint the White House Black,’ ‘The Mothership Connection,’ it’s always been deep it’s just that the music was fun, groovy, and funky, but what is being said in it and the concepts are deep.”
I remember coming across those truly funky album covers that my mother would have near the record player, pulling them out and just looking at the cover artwork. They were far out, to say the least. As I grew older I realized the lyrics were out of this world as well. Bootsy says that was by design as well.
“If you go back and look at it, all of it’s deep,” Collins continued. “Chocolate City! C’mon man, that’s deep. That’s some deep stuff. George was into all of that stuff and he had books and book and books about the Bermuda Triangle, Easter Island, the Pyramids and all of that stuff and he got me into it. We used to go out into the Bermuda Triangle and fish and this is all we talked about and wrote about. The music being as funky as it was made you party and have a good time, but at the same time the underlying message was always in there. Who would have thought we would have a Black president? Goerge was talking about that.”
Music with meaning? A lost concept to be certain. Who stole the soul and who do we need to punch to get back the funk? The legacy of Black music in America is at stake.
“We’ve become so caught up with this paper god that we’ve forgotten about us,” he explained. “It’s all about faith, it’s all about being out in the cotton fields picking up cotton while singing them songs, bleeding, sweating, but at the same time we’re happy, joyous, having a good time doing what we did. We’re getting back to basics. That’s what the funk capital is about.
“It’s about that paper god man. We’ve forgotten about how our forefathers worked and worked and worked like dogs and now all we’re talking about is getting paid. It’s a deep thing, Funk is simple. It is, but at the same time there’s a deep story behind it.”
Bootsy Collins has been making albums consistently for years, even when more recognized funksters had long since hung up their high-platform glittered boots and spaced out paraphernalia. Here, Collins explains to our Lee Bailey why this album took so long to drop.
“I’ve always recorded songs whether I had a record deal or not,” said Bootsy. “I was always recording for something else. That actually started when I was working with George Clinton. I got used to recording other stuff and I still do that. I happened to fall in with the right company at the right time. This guy happened to believe in what I was doing and wanted me to do it how I wanted to do it. This was important to me because I didn’t want to do another record with the record company that wants me to be like somebody else. This is what I do, like it or not. This is what I do. I’m not commercial, I’m not the today kind of artist. I just do what I do and if that’s alright with you then we can roll. And it was alright with this dude at Mascot (Records). He said do what you feel you can do and I had a chance to do it without anybody breathing down my neck and I got a chance to pull in mugs that I wanted to pull in.”
Did he just use the word mugs in a sentence to describe people? That’s so 70s!
“I got a chance to pull in voices that weren’t really musicians,” he continued. “The Rev. Sharpton, Dr Cornell West, and Samuel L. Jackson. These are very identifiable people that, when you put them over top of a music track, they bring about a whole ‘notha thing.”
Recording a track with people who are not musicians has to be pretty difficult, but Collins says it was all good.
“It worked different ways with different people,” Bootsy explained. “With Rev. Sharpton I just needed him to talk about how he felt about James Brown. He didn’t really need no directing for that because he already knew what he wanted to say. He knew James Brown so he knows. With Dr Cornell West, I just gave him the concept that we got smart phones and we’re still making dumb decisions. When I said that, it opened up a whole ‘nother thing. He didn’t even write anything down. I just turned the music on and the next thing you know he just started rapping. Samuel L Jackson … I gave him the direction of what did he feel music had done for him and he just went into the studio and put it down. Ain’t nobody really need no guidance or nothing.”
The conditions at public schools located in predominately Black and Hispanic neighborhoods seem to be performing at a level that continues to drop after each year. Is it a coincidence that these same schools have eliminated music related activities due to a poor fiscal outlook? Then you add the influence of modern, soulless music and calamity is bound to ensue.
“We really can’t expect too much more because of what the people are getting fed,” Collins theorized. “We kind of have to step up our game in getting some real stuff out and get kids to pick instruments up. The schools nowadays are taking instruments from kids and taking the programs out of the schools and then they expect kids to be normal. ‘Why come they ain’t doing this, and why come they ain’t doing that?’ Well, when you take away ways that they can release that energy and be creative they can only do what comes natural, and that’s to revert back to the animal instinct. We want to try to get this back on the table. I just heard they took ‘Guitar Heroes’ off the market because the killing game was making so much more money. ‘Guitar Heroes’ was bad enough with the fake guitar, but at least it was a step in the right direction. Now they took that off the market. I think our emphasis is on the wrong things. It’s always been about the people, but the system feels like it’s more about the system. We can only do what can do until we get some more good music back out there.”
We’re sure Bootsy and friends will do their very best to get music out there, as for the fiscal part? Unfortunately, kids are going to have to keep waiting on Superman.
Meanwhile, “Funk Capital of the World” is slated to be released on April 25 by Mascot Records. If you want a pre-release whiff of the funk you can log on to www.bootsycollins.com.