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