Monday, December 25, 2006
Soul Brother Number One!
The supreme liberator; James Brown has passed away at age 73!
What most people don't realize is that he was one of the most influential innovators of the 20th century. Surely, he had become a caricature of himself in recent years but his place in African Heaven was long accounted for.
James Brown liberated African-American music from the clutches of European influenced church music. By himself, he brought the entire world to its feet with his organic, pulsating jungle grooves. Without James Brown there is no such thing as "Funk" and certainly not any art form known as "Hip-Hop".
Not surprisingly, most of the pioneering rap songs of the '70's and '80's featured samples of his music as the backdrop for a new attitude. Why not?
James Brown preceded Fela Kuti as the Blackest African of our planetary system. When he visited Africa in the 1960's he freed African musicians from the constraints of colonial etiquette.
His band was the first group to feature two drummers, two bassists, three guitars and a full horn section! Fela acknowledged, in a film interview, that he had been driven to inspiration by the thoroughly raw African power of James Brown's music. Having seen Fela live on stage, I can attest that he had borrowed much from the Godfather of Soul.
If you need to be reminded of the enormity of the man's legacy, you need only listen to what African-American music sounded like B.J.B. (before James Brown). Then you will truly understand that in the Jungle Groove...he took us back to Africa!