Saturday February 20, 2021

Author seats himself and turns on to Funkadelic. “Why is everyone afraid to say ‘Kiss me!'” asks George Clinton on “Mommy, What’s a Funkadelic?,” the 9:04 opener on the band’s debut. It’s a sad song when heard in light of Fred Moten’s comments about the cries of Frederick Douglass’s Aunt Hester, the black variant of Freud’s “primal scene.” Moten argues that those sounds continue; “Joy and Pain,” he says, are integral parts of black music, as in the track by Maze feat. Frankie Beverly, or the Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock version from 1988. The Funkadelic album is too much, a big ‘ol heap of “way back yonder funk,” “ancient old funk.” I’m reminded — reshaped, resounded — as the album proceeds. A description of “the songs of the slaves” follows the Aunt Hester scene in Douglass’s autobiography — and that’s what I hear when I hear “Music for My Mother.”

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