WOOOW! I feel good!note The Godfather of Soul
James Brown, "I Got You (I Feel Good)"
Also, Soul Brother Number One, Sex Machine, Mr. Dynamite, The King of Soul, Mr. Please-Please-Please, The King of Funk
, and most of all, The Hardest Working Man In Show Business
James Joseph Brown, Jr. (May 3, 1933 - December 25, 2006) was one of the biggest music stars of all time. This singer, dancer, and bandleader left his mark on rock, R&B, and Soul
and practically invented Funk
music. His live performances were extremely memorable, and Live at the Apollo
is considered one of the best albums, let alone live albums, of all time. He was also famous for his social activism, solidifying his influence on African-American culture. Brown's accolades include a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, and inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Brown's musical output is prolific. Brown actively recorded from 1959 to 1981, with varying amounts of live albums coming out every so often. During his heyday in the late 60s to mid 70s, he put out anywhere from six to nine singles, and two to four albums, per year. His stage show and presence were bombastic and always brimming with energy. Live recordings became more and more prevalent when Brown stopped recording in the studio.
Brown's music is also the most sampled music catalogue of all time. The drum break from "Funky Drummer
" is the most sampled song of all time with over 900 tabulated uses of the song on the site WhoSampled. Several other songs have his, including "Funky President (People It's Bad)", "The Payback", "Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved" and "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud" have each been sampled several hundred times.
He was Michael Jackson
's greatest idol when he was a child, as seen by how much his music and dance styles are influenced by James Brown, and Michael paid tribute to him many times throughout his career. James Brown later invited Michael
onstage in 1983.
Sadly died of pneumonia in 2006, on Christmas Day no less. But his legacy lives on and in 2014, a biographical film, Get On Up
, was made about his life.
"Papa's got a brand new trope":
- Audience Participation: Was a master in the genre. He could really pepper the audience into dancing; singing and screaming along.
- Back from the Dead: A famous stage act has Brown faking a heart attack and being carried or lead of stage by a roadie or fellow musician, only to return in triumph and new energy.
- Bad To The Bone: "I Got You (I Feel Good)" (not titled just "I Feel Good") has been used in many movie scenes with happy people. It is also a Standard Snippet in comedy trailers.
- But Not Too Black: Subverted, he is the creator of "Say It Loud: I'm Black And I'm Proud" after all...
- Careful With That Axe: HUUOOWWAAUUUAAAORGGHAAAGGOOOWWWW!
- Cult of Personality: James Brown was enstowed with various honorific titles, many of which he invented himself. In the 1960s he was the most "black" Afro-American singer and dancer you could imagine, making him the black consciousness embodiement in music.
- Dance Sensation: In the 1960s and 1970s he was the embodiement of catchy dance music for parties.
- Dancing Is Serious Business: Brown certainly embodied the art of dance.
- Domestic Abuser: Was arrested for domestic violence at least 5 times and sued for forcible rape (the case was dropped due to insufficient evidence)
- Ear Worm: Every single track.
- Epic Rocking: Some of his funky tracks last several minutes and are Ear Worm too catchy to describe.
- Follow the Leader: Inspired countless soul, R&B, funk, hiphop and rap acts, but also reggae, afrobeat and dance music in general. Also a huge influence on live performing. Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop are just two artists who borrowed a lot from Brown's stage presence.
- Gorgeous George: Developed his stage persona after being inspired by the original.
- Funk: Not the earliest example, but definitely a Trope Maker.
- I Am the Band: Brown was a notorious perfectionist, and ran through backup band members like water.
- I Have Many Names: Just look at all of those Stage Names.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: Many songs of his have barely any intelligible lyrics except for "Hey!"
- As a Memphis radio host put it, "James Brown didn't need any lyrics sheets. He had PCP!"
- Intercourse with You: "Sex Machine", "Doing It To Death", "Lickin' Stick" (actually about a stick to give someone a lickin', but the innuendo was probably intentional),...
- John Barleycorn And Friends: "King Heroin".
- Listing Cities: "Living In America" and "Night Train."
- Live Album: Live At The Apollo is the most iconic one.
- Long Title: James had many in his catalogue. "I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door, I'll Get It Myself)", "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's, Man's World", "Give It Up or Turnit a Loose", "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud", "Mother Popcorn (You Got to Have a Mother for Me)" and "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine" were just the big singles that had long titles.
- Lyrical Tic: Brown may well be the Most Triumphant Example of a musician who uses this trope. He was famous for going "ow!". He was also famous for variations of "Hunh!", "Heh!", "Whoa", "Ooh", and (as noted in the page quote), "Hey!"
- A short-lived Twitmeme, "Radio 4 Minus One Letter", defined "From Our Ow Correspondent" as "a series of reports from across the world delivered by our reporters, interspersed with their impressions of James Brown".
- "Sex Machine" has him add a noticeable "-uh" to the end of every line.
- Mating Dance: You could call several of his funky and sexy tracks inspirational in this realm.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: James Brown is one of the most used victims of this trope.
- One-Word Title: "Please Please Please".
- Revenge: "The Payback" is all about this, obviously.
- Pure Energy: Brown was definitely alive!
- Sampled Up: Often cited the most sampled artist in the world.
- Shaking the Rump: "And then... shake your money maker!"
- Shout-Out: He enjoyed referencing titles from his own back catalogue in his new releases.
- Spiritual Successor: Michael Jackson named Brown his main inspiration and much like him he combined showmanship, an excellent voice and amazing dancing.
- Prince lent a lot from Brown's sexual energy and outrageousness.
- Three Chords and the Truth: One simple groove could last for minutes, but you never doubt its excellence.
- Verbal Tic:
- "Get in love with yo' bad self!"
- "Can I take it to the bridge?"
- "Ain't it funky now?"
- "Hit it!"
- "Hit me!"
- "Can't pass the people! Can't pass me! Hit me!"
- "Play it on me now!"
- "One more time! Can I hear it one more time?!"