On Christmas Day 2006, James Brown, (born as James Joseph Brown, Jr.) died unexpectedly of congestive heart failure after being hospitalized for pneumonia.
Mr. Brown was born in Augusta, GA on May 3, 1933, long before the south was “dirty” and surely before American continental geography were places of pride for hip hop talent. Yet, starting in the 1980s, we witnessed a growing popularity of emerging hip hop artists use JB’s signature “one-three” beat from James Brown as motivation for music that became a part of a new genre of music we now call “hip hop”.
The soul and rock legend, often revered as “the hardest working man in show business”, Mr. Brown, whose career spans nearly 60 years, handcrafted a new culture and genre of music with an eclectic, polyrhythmic blend of soul, rock, funk and R&B. Despite being banned from performing at “white” establishments for several decades, battling racism and while fighting for social justice, James Brown was a visionary, pioneer and trailblazer who worked tirelessly while pursing his career and perfecting his craft.
Mr. Brown’s influence on hip hop culture still rocks on today in hip hop.
JB’s musical influence and sound can still be heard in hip-hop songs, starting from the first modern duo to sample one of Mr. Brown’s songs, Erik B. and Rakim‘s “Erik B. Is President” back in 1986, which is classic hip hop anthem.
Since then, other artists including (but most certainly not limited to) DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Snoop Dogg, Coolio, MC Hammer, DJ Magic Mike, The 2 Live Crew, Digable Planets, Craig Mack, Redman, Geto Boys, Grand Master Flash & The Furious Five, Artifacts, Lords Of the Underground, The Fat Boys, Jaz, Scarface, Salt N Pepa and Chubb Rock have all recorded songs with samples from the one and only, “Godfather of Soul”.
Here’s 7 of my favorite James Brown samples in hip-hop:
Slum Village, “I Don’t Know”
Pete and C.L. Rock, “T.R.O.Y (They Reminisce Over You)”
Total, “Can’t You See”
De La Soul, “Me, Myself and I”
Notorious BIG, “Dreams”
Ice Cube, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted
TLC, “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”
The unforgettable legacy, timeless music and powerful energy Mr. James Brown gifted us with during a 6 decade career most certainly lives on.