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The Track That Built Hip-Hop: James Brown Band's Clyde Stubblefield's Funky Drummer

Posted by Billyjam, June 14, 2010 01:45pm | Post a Comment

The PBS documentary that aired earlier this year, Copyright Criminals, was all about sampling in hip-hop and other contemporary music forms. There was a wonderful segment in which they focused on James Brown's drummer Clyde Stubblefield, who got little or no credit for one of his most influential & sampled pieces. The Chattanooga, Tennessee- born funk drummer was a member of James Brown's band during some of the most exciting years and, as such, he was responsible for the drumming on such classic Brown recordings as "Cold Sweat," "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud," "There Was A Time," "I Got The Feelin'," "Mother Popcorn," and "Ain't It Funky Now."

But it was Stubblefield's simple but funky and hypnotic drum pattern on the James Brown track "Funky Drummer" that would become the artist's greatest legacy, even though he didn't initially get the full credit for it. The song, which would go on to become the most sampled tracks in hip-hop music, was widely utilized by artists in the late 80's and early 90's (and beyond, too) who, generally speaking, did not give proper credit to the song's creators. In the documentary Stubblefield talks about the disappointment he felt for not getting credited for his work so many times. In fact  even when the "Funky Drummer" was credited, it was typically James Brown who was given credit for the original, not Stubblefield. But as time goes on, more and more people know who the "funky drummer" is and give the man his props.


"Funky Drummer"

Artists that have sampled "Funky Drummer" include Public Enemy, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Ultramagnetic MCs, Beastie Boys, De La Soul, Gang Starr, Geto Boys, NWA, Eric B & Rakim, Ice Cube, The Pharcyde, Run DMC, Above The Law, and Biz Markie.

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