Arguably, there would be no modern hip-hop without George Clinton. When he provided the beats for Dr. Dre’s breakthrough 1992 album, The Chronic, the G-funk era was born (funked down with a gangsta twist). Fittingly, the artist whose samples have perhaps graced more hip-hop tracks than any other is currently a spokesman for a bill that will redefine copyright law to protect artists against unauthorized sampling.
Timely, then, that Clinton has popped his sanctioned-sampling cherry by contributing his music, plus a scant few original vocal tracks, to Aleon Craft’s new mixtape, Mothership: The Decatur Connection. It’s effectively a mashup, with SMKA producers Paul Forrest and Justin Padron remixing Aleon Craft’s excellent mixtape, Mothership Decatur, with a variety of Clinton tracks. As with many examples in this genre, there are moments of inspired greatness accompanied by WTF moments of awkward juxtapositions. The opening track, “Copyright Trolls”, is an example of the latter, suffering from oversaturation. With six Clinton tracks and the vocals from three Aleon Craft tracks, it’s just too much.
Aleon Craft’s lucid and nimble MC skills are much better served when layered on top of just one Clinton jam. On “Places to Fly”, Craft’s vocal sample is finally allowed to effortlessly flow forth, aptly describing the mixtape process at hand: “Torn, between creating music in sections…” Yet the Clinton mashup pales in comparison to Aleon’s original “Places to Fly”, losing its severe Southern rap essence and intense drive. The celebratory blues-funk of Funkadelic’s “Hit It and Quit It” provides a badass backing for Aleon’s ode to ATL nightlife, “Donkey Kong”, the clear winner here. But on “Ball of Confusion”, it’s just that: confused and convoluted, especially when “One Nation Under a Groove” crassly interrupts the cathartic release of “Maggot Brain”. One wishes for more quality, less quantity.
Essential Tracks: “Donkey Kong”, “Places to Fly”, “Make It Out”, and “Ghetto Soul”