Now this is what you call P-Funk. Nina Hagen, Germany’s Godmother of Punk, and Prime Minister of Funk George Clinton, America’s Dr. Funkenstein, came together for the iconic singer’s new single, “Unity,” according to Rolling Stone. Hagen, who wrote the song immediately after the murder of George Floyd, says this her tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. Hagen also announced she will issue her first album in nine years, since 2011’s Volksbeat.
“’Unity’ was created immediately after the incredibly cowardly and brutal murder of George Floyd,” Hagen said in a statement, via Rolling Stone. “A song about the indestructible dream of charity. From the longing for human values, for social unity and justice.” Clinton is a strong presence on the dub track, which calls for “unity in the community.” While the song drips of both cosmic alliance and Christian Gospel, it is not quite as preachy and optimistic as it may appear. Freedom is never really won, it’s earned, as she paraphrases Coretta Scott King. Hagen, a master of subversion, throws in a line about something being in the water.
Hagen has always made herself available in the political abyss, whether fighting against forced psychiatric treatment or laying siege to fur fashion shows in Paris. Her 1986 single with Lene Lovich, “Don’t Kill the Animals,” protested the product testing on animals. Hagen’s own father was an anti-fascist in the Nazi resistance during World War II, and was a subject in Nazi human experiments. His father died in a concentration camp.
Hagen was born to be a political artist. Her stepfather was anti-establishment singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann, and when Hagen attempted to study acting, the government itself issued a restraining order. So she sang. First with the band Automobil, with whom she had the 1974 hit single “Du Hast den Farbfilm Vergessen,” translated as “You forgot the color film,” it was a veiled attack on the East German government. She recruited Manfred Preaker, Herwig Mitteregger, and Bernhard Potschka of the band “Lokomotive Kreuzberg” and composer Reinhold Heil for the Nina Hagen Band in 1977. In 1981, Hagen named her daughter Cosma Shiva after seeing a UFO while pregnant. On her first English-language album, NunSexMonkRock, she promised “there’s a revolution going on.”
Hagen has put out about 15 solo and was the voice of Sally in the German release of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. She gave all her clothes away to Anthony Kiedis who turned it into the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ hit “Give It Away,” and appeared with John Frusciante on her Street album. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were part of the P-Funk army, along with Galactic and Fishbone, when they toured with George Clinton.
Funk pioneer Clinton came out of retirement for this mothership connection with Hagen. He announced he was through when he reunited with Parliament after 38 years for the Medicaid Fraud Dogg album in 2018. He reunited with Funkadelic the year before. He even released a memoir in 2017. Clinton, who’d been testifying since he started recording with the Parliaments in 1967, promised Afrofuturistic political sanctuary in the form of the Funkadelics album Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow. Subsequent albums warned us America Eats its Young. Clinton was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1997 by Prince. Nina Hagen’s new album’s release date has not yet been announced, but “Unity” is available from Berlin-based Groenland Records.