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Remembering What James Brown Means To Hip-Hop

Lately we’ve been aware of some riffs between some of Hip-Hop’s most historic founding figures. Some people may feel that certain individuals are getting more credit than they should be getting while others feel certain individuals don’t get enough credit. We could actually talk about that all day until we’re blue in the face. What is undisputed is the impact that James Brown records had on Hip-Hop during it’s beginning stages as well during it’s developmental stages. Off the top James Brown is the most sampled artist in the history of music by far. This is largely in part because of how essential his overall sound is to the Hip-Hop culture. 

If James Brown were alive today he would be celebrating his 84th birthday. Trying to figure out the dopest James Brown samples ever is damn near impossible. There are just too many to name. Many of us can go on record and say that no one sampled James Brown’s music like Public Enemy did. Public Enemy took sampling James Brown to the next level. According to James Brown’s “Funky Drummer alone has been sampled nearly 1,400 times (it is highly likely that number is even more). The Funky Drum himself that played on the “Funky Drummer” record, Clyde Stubberfield passed away back in February of this year at the age of 74. Possibly the funkiest drum loop to ever rhyme on. If you can’t rhyme over “The Funky Drummer” you aren’t a true emcee in this thing we call Hip-Hop. 

As important as “The Funky Drummer” is to Hip-Hop it could be argued that “Give It Up Or Turn It Loose (In The Jungle Groove Remix)” is even more important. This is the record that made The Father Of Hip-Hop, DJ Herc realize that he could keep the party going with the break beat section of a record. Herc called this method “The Merry Go Round”. Once again Clyde Stubberfield on the drums, Bootsy Collins blesses us on the bass and this is one of the funkiest beat breaks you’ll ever hear. 

James Brown samples are notorious for being used over and over but for some reason never feeling old or overused. A great example of this is “The Payback”. This record has been sampled by everyone from LL Cool J to Madlib to Nas and each time it seems as if it’s a different spin on it. Even R&B groups like EnVogue and Total have used “The Payback” for their own to create timeless tracks that have a Hip-Hop swing. “The Payback” has been sampled over 350 times so clearly this is yet another James Brown go to record. Even the original version could be sited as an early rap record. James Brown is spitting game on this record. Many rappers today sing more on their records than James Brown did on this record. 

Another James Brown record that gave us a very important Hip-Hop moments is “Funky President (People It’s Bad)”. This is the record that gave us the drums from the Hip-Hop altering, life changing Hip-Hop explosion entitled “Eric Is President” from Eric B & Rakim. As described by many from the mid 80’s era this song changed everything. “Eric B Is President” upped the stakes for anyone trying to jump on the mic. It also up the stakes for Hip-Hop beats being made from a production standpoint. This is when we started to see an explosion of every rapper coming out using James Brown samples. This eventually led to sample clearance laws that were coming to a head at the time. “Funky President” also gave us classics like “Hip-Hop Hooray”, “Mighty Healthy”, “Fu*k Tha Police”, “It’s Funky Enough”, & “Fight The Power” just to name a few. 

James Brown’s impact on Hip-Hop music and music in general is truly immeasurable. We honestly have no idea what Hip-Hop music would sound like if James Brown never existed. We aren’t even accounting for all the artist that he worked with and influenced that were sampled for great Hip-Hop records as well. Brown set the tone for what Hip-Hop was going to be and what it became. Fortunately Brown lived to see what this art form was able to create with his great works. Any Hip-Hop fan owes a great deal of gratitude to The Godfather Of Soul Mr. James Brown. Happy Bornday. 



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