James Brown – Bio

James Brown

English: James Brown, February 1973, Musikhall...

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James Joe Brown Jr. aka “The Godfather of Soul,” “Mr. Dynamite,” “Soul Brother Number One” and “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” is by far the most influential and popular Funk/Soul artist in America. He is known as the creator of Funk music. He is also responsible for the development of many different musical genres. He was born in Barnwell, South Carolina and raised by 2 aunts and a brother in Augusta, Georgia. As a child, James sang at talent shows, and performed buck dances for a little extra change. He learned how to play the harmonica, drums, guitar, and piano. As a teen he decided to focus more on music in his teens after he met Bobby Byrd, who later became a member in his band.

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Introducing Funk

Funk is a distinct style of music originated by the African American Culture. It hit the scene in the late 60’s early 70’s.

James Brown, as released by image creator Lars...

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Its name originated in the 1950s, when “funk” and “funky” were used increasingly as adjectives in the context of soul music. The meaning being transformed from the original one (pungent odor) to a re-defined meaning of a strong, distinctive groove.

Funk consists a blend of soul music, jazz music and R&B. What separates this genre is the strong bass-line usually played in a style called “slap bass.” The blend of this baseline, complex drum licks, choppy guitar strumming, and synchronized horns (trumpets and saxophones) composed in a rhythmic groove gives Funk it’s distinct sound.

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Hip Hop & Connection to Roots

Nas – I Can 

I Can” is a very informational and meaningful hip hop song that was created in 2003 by Nas. “I Can” is the second single from Nas’s album, God’s SonNas dedicated this song to the youth, mainly young black kids.

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Cover of "God's Son"

He uses his status and creativity in the hip hop culture to send a positive message to our youth with this song. Nas was a very popular hip hop artist during the time he composed this song. He uses kids in his song as well as in the video to help attract more kids to listen to the positively influential song. This song is very meaningful and informational to kids, especially Black kids. As far as the video, there are many things used and shown that link back to African roots. This shows how important and influential Africa is in our present society.

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Hip-Hop & Sampling


In music, the term sampling is the act of taking a portion, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a different sound recording of a song or piece.  This can be done from a machine called a sampler.

In the early 90’s, sampling was essential to the culture of hip hop.  If you listen to hip hop tracks from this time period, most beats are sampled from old school tracks.  You might hear songs from many different genres in different songs or even combined in one track.

Some tracks are played exactly how it was made in the past, and some are cut and pasted from pieces or parts of the old school track’s instrumental.


One group who essentially and consistently included jazz in their songs was – A Tribe Called Quest.

Here’s a song from their debut album The Low End Theory.  The song is called Jazz (We’ve Got).

  • The drums in this track is actually a sample from Five Stairsteps – Don’t Change Your Love – (1968).
  • The Jazz track that is sampled in this song is Lucky Thompson – Green Dolphin Street – (1972).

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Hip Hop – Old School vs. New School

A Change in Hip-Hop

Mainstream Hip Hop music has changed over time. Mainstream refers to the music, songs and artists that are normally played on the radio and or television.

Some might say that hip-hop changed for the better, and some (like me) might disagree.  Everyone has their own opinion, but no one can argue against the fact that it has definitely changed.

It not only has changed, but constantly changes as time goes by.  A new style, vibe, feel, and sound to hip-hop comes along almost every decade.  The changes might not necessarily be the most obvious, but comparing old to new always gives one a better understanding.

The messages and meanings in the present hip-hop industry are also among the certain aspects that may differ from hip-hop from the past.

In the present mainstream hip-hop music that’s being played on the radio and music television channels, some artists aim for more of a party/club type song to dance to.  These type of songs are popular in today’s generation of hip-hop.  They aren’t necessarily popular because of the lyrics, but more so the some-what fast paced tempo and the dance style they display.

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Introducing Old-School Music

What is music?

The official definition of music is the art or science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.

What is Old-School Music?

Now that you have the understanding of what music is, let’s talk about Old-School music. There isn’t an official definition for old school music but this term refers to the music from the past. It can range anywhere before the past decade. Old-School music might also relate to the type of style one organizes, performs, and plays a specific genre of music. Even instruments can be used in a way that was very popular in the music industry in the past giving it an Old-School sound.

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