Known to its legions of fans simply as P-Funk, Parliament Funkadelic has had a profound impact on the development of contemporary music, aesthetics and culture. PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC: One Nation Under a Groove chronicles the unique alchemy of the musical influences that fed into the bands singular approach to music, documenting P-Funks continuing influence on todays artists and musicians and featuring an in-depth look at the musical and entrepreneurial mastermind of its leader George Clinton.
To create a film that reflected the distinctive nature of P-Funk, filmmaker Yvonne Smith used animationboth cell- and computer-generatedto create the special sequences and virtual environments that reflect the P-Funk aesthetic. Inspired by a P-Funk lyric, she created the Afronaut, a cartoon character from outer space who serves as the films host and narrator. The Afronauts voice is provided by hip-hop comic and actor Eddie Griffin, who co-starred in the popular series Malcolm and Eddie and feature films including Undercover Brother, Herbie: Fully Loaded, and Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo and its sequel Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo. In PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC, the Afronaut descends to earth from a new millennium version of the Mothership, created by computer graphics artist Paul Collins. The Afronaut was brought to life in cell animation from the drawings of Kevin Lofton, a former animation artist on Beavis and Butthead.
In PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC, interviews with the original Parliamentsthe late Ray Davis, Calvin Simon, Grady Thomas and Clarence Fuzzy Haskinstake place in a virtual barber shop, reminiscent of the groups early years doing hair and singing in a New Jersey hair salon run by George Clinton. The barbershop and the various environments in which George Clinton appears, were created in digital animation. In addition to the Parliaments, the film also features original interviews with George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, Garry Shider, Dawn Silvaone of the Brides of Funkensteinand other key P-Funk band members and staff. Other musicians interviewed include Rick James, Ice Cube, Flea and Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, De La Soul, Shock G (also known as Humpty Hump of the Digital Underground) and Nona Hendryx of LaBelle. Reginald Hudlin, director of House Party and Boomerang, president of entertainment for BET and a P-Funk fanatic, also appears, as does funk historian and author Rickey Vincent.
What set P-Funk apart from other bands? In the music industry, George Clinton was known as much for his innovative business practices as for his music. Ultimately, Clinton morphed his core band members into multiple groups on multiple record labels, something no one had ever done. The band also created an alternate reality in which young P-Funk fans, especially African American males, could imagine themselves. George Clinton developed a mythology about brothers from another planet who came to liberate earth from the restrictions of Puritanical morality. It was a concept that allowed P-Funks fans to transcend the confines of their neighborhood and imagine themselves as citizens of a much larger universe.
At PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC shows, this mythology was realized in highly theatrical stage shows, which Clinton called funk operas. They featured elaborate and outlandish costumes and the landing of a space ship onstagethe Mothershipfrom which Clinton would emerge as Dr. Funkenstein, dressed in regalia that resembled a pimp from outer space. At a time when young African American men had no comic book heroes to identify with, Clinton gave them Star Child, pitted against the villainous Sir Nose DVoidoffunk in the cosmic showdown between good and evil, between letting your hair down and staying uptight. This battle was immortalized in the Parliament hit Flash Light, which is featured prominently in the film. Complete with a special vocabulary, hand signs, chants and tribal rituals, P-Funk remains a not-so-secret society open to all who want a release from the restrictive mores of society. To enter, all you have to do is dance: Free your mind and your ass will follow!