George Clinton

William Thoren Photography

This freaky son of Newark, N.J. didn't always used to funk it up. Back when he was working in a barbershop, he was influenced by a lot of jazz, and aspiring to be a famous doo-wop singer. 

"Our customers were James Moody; I delivered milk to Sarah Vaughan," he says. "Wayne Shorter lived on Huntington Street. I lived on Bergen street, one block apart. Larry Young Jr., I remember when he sang doo-wop."

Cameron Robert/NPR

Editor's note: This story contains some explicit language.

The connection between Killer Mike and George Clinton might not seem immediately obvious. One is a 42-year-old Atlanta rapper who, alongside El-P in Run the Jewels, sells out shows across the country without the boost of radio play. The other, now 75, founded the pioneering groups Parliament and Funkadelic in the '60s and presided over a funk empire whose onstage manifestations included dozens of musicians and a spaceship that descended from the rafters.