Legendary Singer James Brown Dies, President Bush, Various Rappers React

Pioneering R&B

legend James "The Godfather of Soul" Brown died early today (Dec. 25)

from an unknown illness in Atlanta, GA. According

to his representatives, Brown, 73, was admitted to Emory Crawford Long Hospital

on Sunday, suffering from pneumonia. He

died around 1:45 a.m. with manager Charles Bobbitt by his side."We

really don’t know at this point what he died of," Brown’s agent Frank Copsidas

told the Associated Press. Rapper

Nas, who incorporated a portion of Brown’s song "Get Up, Get Into It, Get

Involved" on the song "Where Are They Now" from his latest album

Hip-Hop Is Dead, was lucky enough to meet Brown before his passing. "I

spoke in front of hundreds in his honor," Nas told AllHipHop.com in a statement

today (Dec. 25). "I looked directly at him. He smiled while I told him how

I used his music with mine and how much he’s done for us and how I love him. I’m

lucky to have had that moment, shook his hand. He was pure greatness." The

news of Brown’s death evoked a statement from United States president George W.

Bush Jr. "Laura

and I are saddened by the death of James Brown," Bush said in a statement.

"For half a century, the innovative talent of the "Godfather of Soul"

enriched our culture and influenced generations of musicians. An American original,

his fans came from all walks of life and backgrounds. James Brown’s family and

friends are in our thoughts and prayers this Christmas."Rapper

Snoop Dogg labeled Brown his "soul inspiration.""I

am hurt. That’s my Godfather," Snoop Dogg said. "The hardest working

man in show business of all time. He’ll be missed, but his music and his legacy

will live on through me, in everyway you can imagine."Rapper

Ice Cube acknowledged Brown’s iconic status within the Hip-Hop industry as well,

as he influenced nearly every rapper or producer that participates in the craft.

"James

Brown was the first solo singer that I loved as a kid," Ice Cube admitted.

"He was not only the Godfather of Soul, but the Godfather of Funk and Rap.

Music will never be the same." Like

many rappers, Brown’s story is one of triumph, as the singer was born in extreme

poverty in 1933 in Augusta, GA. In

the late 1940’s, Brown was arrested for armed robbery. He

gained parole with the help of Bobby Byrd and formed a gospel group.

After unsuccessful stints as a baseball player and a boxer, Brown joined Byrd’s

group The Avons.The

pair later went on to form their famed group, The Famous Flames in Macon, Georgia

in 1955. Brown

and The Famous Flames released a number of seminal records as artists on Syd Nathan’s

historic Cincinnati, Ohio based label, King Records. In

the 1950’s, Brown rode the charts with singles like "Please, Please, Please,"

"Try Me" and others. In

1963, Brown released what many consider the most important record in his career

Live at the Apollo. The

album captured the live energy of a James Brown concert and reached #2 on the

charts. Live

at the Apollo was the start of Brown’s fight for artistic control over his

music career. In

1964 he released the hit single "Out of Sight" for Smash Records, while

he was still under contract to King Records. A

following lawsuit prevented Brown from recording until King finally capitulated

and granted Brown more artistic freedom. The

result was a spate of hit records, including crossover hits like "Papa’s

Got a Brand New Bag," "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "I Got the

Feelin," "It’s A Man’s World," "Licking Stick-Licking Stick"

"Funky Drummer," "Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud" and

others. In

1969, Brown’s band walked out on him due to his demanding nature as a bandleader.

Brown

recruited a young group from Cincinnati named the Pacemakers, which featured Catfish

Collins and legendary bassist Bootsy Collins, who became members of the Parliament/Funkadelic

collective.Brown

has had over 100 hits throughout his career in the United States. He also embraced

Hip-Hop music early in the genre’s evolution.His

records have been incorporated into the fabric of Hip-Hop music since the genre’s

inception in 1973. Since

then, Brown’s has been sampled countless times.He

teamed with Hip-Hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa to release the hit single "Unity"

in 1984 and in 1988, Brown teamed with R&B/Hip-Hop group Full Force to release

"Static, Pts. 1 & 2."Brown

was also an entrepreneur, as the owner of several publishing companies, radio

stations and record labels, including the legendary People imprint, which included

acts like The JB’s, Maceo [Parker] & The Macks and Lyn ‘The Female Preacher’

Collins, who’s James Brown produced single "Think (About It)" was turned

into a Hip-Hop classic titled "It Takes Two" by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock.In

1998, Brown sold $100 million in "James Brown" bonds to undisclosed

insurance companies with the help of securities company The Pullman Group. The

bonds were secured against Brown’s 750-song catalog, allowing him to use his works

as collateral to help feed the poor and to finance the production of his Christmas

album, Christmas for the Millennium & Forever.Brown

became a pioneer of digital music with the release of Christmas for the Millennium

& Forever.The

album was released via an exclusive deal with Emusic.com in 1999.Emusic.com

licensed the album from Brown and sold the songs as digital downloads exclusively

online, while Brown retained the master recordings and publishers and writer’s

rights.

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