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NYC Homecoming: Queens, Headlining George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic At Forest Hills Stadium, Friday, August 20th, 2021, Reviewed

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“If people don’t do it, it’ll get taken away.” That’s what True Groove head honcho Tomas Doncker said to me when an all brass jam exploded halfway through 80 year old George Clinton’s, and his mostly newbies Parliament Funkadelic, set at Forest Hills Stadium. Doncker is right, of course, but it isn’t only true of funk but also of the first 15 years of hip hop. And the point is well made in last night’s wonderful concert which also seconded as a premature return to post-pandemic normalcy and a five hour commercial for the Hip Hop Museum that’ll be opening near Yankee Stadium in 2024.

In attendance was the loathsome Mayor, Bill De Blasio, and the professional politician, Senator Chuck Schumer (what, no Governor Cuomo? Why not? Don’t tell me I’m keen to guess), the New York Public Advocate, and more, ready for their photo-op as they wheeled out a birthday cake for George Clinton who turned 80 over a month ago and is still touring because he lost his royalties back in 2015. Add to that a whole lotta shoutouts to dead rappers from Tupac (over Biggie, go figure) to Biz Markie (yet no DMX -also go figure) and you have a recipe for a long winded disaster and we didn’t get one. The music did what it was there to do: it saved us from a buncha blowhards.

All week long, the five boroughs had homecoming hip hop free performances, two Wu’s in Staten Island, Daddy Kane in Brooklyn (and Desiigner… who is curating these shows?) and more, but the penultimate show was last night and while Clinton is a huge influence on hip hop (second only to James Brown), he isn’t hip hop and today’s Central Park gig finale (which I plan to go to, weather permitting)? With the exception of LL Cool J, the skin pigmentation gets a whole lot paler.

And it was still a terrific late afternoon to night concert.

Opening with Dj Wiz spinning for half of Mobb Deep (Prodigy has passed) Havoc, we moved flawlessly into an EPMD set with a “Knick Knack Patty Wack” you never thought you’d hear again. “Knick Knack” comes from 1989, and the artists were all post-Sugar Hill, pre-Boom Bat early 90s exemplified by the somewhat bizarre inclusion of West Coast legend Too Short with an uncomfortable set because he couldn’t go full on in front of “mothers and children” though the inclusion of “The Ghetto” made up for it. Queen’s son Mic Geronimo was better and “Master I.C.” was the second best moment of the entire evening. And, the surprise guest was really a surprise and a thrill with DMC giving us “Walk This Way” (the starting line of modern hip hop) and “It’s Tricky”.

As for Parliament-Funkadelic, Tomas has forgotten more about funk than I’ll ever know and when he is enthralled, it’s enthralling. He shrugged off a terrible cover of House Of Pain’s “Jump Around” with a roll of the eyes, but a show stopping, evening stopping “Flash Light” is what gave me the money quote mentioned at the top and not just a “real music” brass band trumpet blasting break but Michael “The Kid” Hampton’s solo, Hampton is on Regina Bonelli’s upcoming True Groove album and the man is a missing link between Jimi Hendrix and everybody else. It’s really a pleasure going to a show with Doncker and I’d missed it and not just because he bought me burgers and fries, it is because of the way he listens and assimilates, and for hip hop lovers it is a joy to have someone who really knows what we are listening to, to confirm or dispute my thoughts.

The entire show was just fine, and the powers that be must have only released about 50% of the tickets so there was room and places to lean back and really enjoy the show. Look, is there something a touch racist about spending a week celebrating hip hop and then blowing it off at the end? Yes. And really, for the Saturday Central Park gig wouldn’t it have made more sense to beg Brooklyn super-duper star Jay-Z to deliver us instead of a retired octogenarian and a man who celebrates New Jersey not New York (and the fucking Killers? Fuck off back to Las Vegas).

But that is another story, the well paced, well delivered, just crowded enough, real music for people to remember the world of analog hip hop, was just terrific. If we have to return to lockdown, at least we got this first.

Grade: B+

1 Comment

  1. Giles G on August 22, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    Wow , it obvious the writer isn’t a funk fan George and P-Funk put on a good show. They played some old Funkadelic album cuts like “super stupid” and Mike Hampton jammed all night. Put some Respek on George name. Hip hop owes as much to him as it does to James B.
    And who says Walk this Way started modern hip-hop? Surely you’re joking.

    Funk gets Stronger!!

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