James Brown
December 25, 2006, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

I wasn’t going to write anything on From Da Bricks over the Christmas period as I am away from my collection and knew I’d be gorging myself on food and drink for a week. However, James Brown died today and I felt compelled to write a short tribute to a man whose music made him an international figure who had an impact on men, women and children for close to half a century. Brown’s contribution to hip hop has also been massive: how many tracks can you name that have sampled a James Brown beat?

Funnily enough, I don’t feel like I know Brown’s music as well as I should do. I guess it is a case of only having so much time on my hands and for the last six or so years I have been committed to listening to as much hip hop as possible to the detriment of other genres, however closely related. This is something that I aim to correct in the near future. James Brown may not have been the most commercially popular or the most naturally skilled of vocalists, but he sure was the funkiest and was undeniably one of the most exhilarating performers to ever grace a stage.

Unfortunately, his life was marked by tragedy from a early age and it plagued him throughout his 73 years on this planet. Failed relationships, battles with drug addiction and prison sentences meant that towards the latter stages of his life he had lost the grace and raw power that he possessed earlier in his career, becoming a parody of himself. However, this video of a performance of ‘Mother Popcorn’ demonstrates what the ‘Godfather Of Soul’ was all about. The funky music and dance moves are what he should always be remembered for, and there are very few people who have acted as such an enigmatic and powerful symbol of the African-American male in popular culture.

In the liner notes to ‘Endtroducing…’ DJ Shadow states that James Brown was the inventor of modern music. His raw and unadulterated sound has influenced musicians across the globe for decades, and there is no denying that hip hop would be a drastically different entity if it wasn’t for Brown. Christmas day or otherwise, I’ll drink to that.

James Brown R.I.P.

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