Author News and Book Reports
George Clinton and Questlove cover doo wop to hip hop with Ben Greenman
Grammy and MTV music video awards winning founder of legendary groups Parliament and Funkadelic, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame icon George Clinton along with Ahmir 'Questlove' Thompson, founder of the thinking person's hip hop group, The Roots, the highly influential, hit record-selling hip hop group since 1995 and currently nightly performers on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon took the stage after a brief introduction from novelist and journalist, most notably for The New Yorker, Ben Greenman to a standing ovation at the 2014 Miami Book Fair International. Beginning with Greenman's first question:'Why now?', Clinton and Questlove introduced their respective memoirs, both co-authored by Greenman, Clinton's Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You? (Atria Books; October, 2014), to be released in trade paperback September, 2015, and Questlove's Mo' Meta Blues, originally released in June, 2013, soon to be re-released by Grand Central Publishing in May, 2015. Having ruminated on what inspired them to write their memoirs, Clinton and Questlove went on to comment on the unconventional titles of their memoirs. Clinton then told the story of his reaction the first time he heard hip hop disruptors Rakim and Public Enemy, and Questlove described growing up in his father's oldies doo wop culture of Jackie Wilson and Chuck Berry. Clinton went on to parse the music of ideas (politics, religion, and prophesy) as concept vs. beat or 'pure music.' Questlove followed with an unlikely story of running around a hotel lobby as a 7 year old and meeting the fire breathing, blood spitting, hard rock masked group Kiss coming off the elevator. At Greenman's urging, Clinton reflected on his sense of 'professionalism,' comparing the 'do whatever they want' work ethics of D'Angelo and Sly Stone with his own 'do what he was paid for' ethic. Questlove and Clinton riffed on how the methods they used to succeed would not have worked with today's social media and viral marketing, pointing to the importance of having a music persona like Snoop Dogg before the emergence of Facebook and Twitter. After telling the story of the night a female fan stopped the show with a performance of her own, Questlove and Clinton speculated on what might have been if not for their successful careers in music and mused over their surprising love of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. Questlove and Clinton wrapped the evening with reflections on the their favorite songs in their peronal repertoire, including Then You Shot Your Cousin and One Nation Under A Groove, (Not Just) Knee Deep, before taking questions from the audience on Clinton's blockbuster song Chocolate City; the perils and possibilities of making money in music, citing the hitless wonders Phish and the politically unfortunate Dixie Chicks; and miscellaneous questions about The Roots, book signings, and Whiplash, the Academy Award nominated movie.