SXSW Conversation: Bootsy Collins & Chuck D

SXSW Panel Reviews

SXSW Conversation: Bootsy Collins & Chuck D
by Gary Miller

SXSW Conversation: Bootsy Collins & Chuck D

Austin Convention Center, Friday, March 15

Words alone can't do the funk-rap continuum justice, but when Bootsy Collins recounts his musical evolution to Chuck D, being in the room is enough. Garbed in an oversized silver top hat and trademark sunglasses, Collins defined funk as "making something out of nothing." He wistfully described cutting records with James Brown at Cincinnati's King Records, an all-in-one label that allowed the band to witness the whole process. "We would go out on the dock where the foreman was at and watch them putting records on the truck," Collins recalled. To that, Chuck D called for an "Occupy the Air" movement, whereby local radio signals would be compelled to broadcast local artists. "To me, Clear Channel is poison," he said. Collins lamented the preponderance of mix-fixing shortcuts in today's music, an entirely reasonable position for someone who once worked for the notoriously unsatisfied Brown. Collins imitated Brown after a show, sitting in a chair, shaking his head and saying, "You ain't got it, son. You ain't got that one!" After discussing his first acid-fueled gig with George Clinton, Collins exhorted the audience to think like bands and build communities. "If we ain't vibing with each other," Collins said, "I call that playing with yourself."

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