For people around my age, the last few seconds of James Brown's "Funky Drummer," when the other instruments drop out and leave just the drums, are iconic. Those bars have been called the most sampled seconds in history (here's a partial list of appearances); the groove was an essential building block of 90s pop.
No matter how many times I hear "Funky Drummer", it turns my head. It's like sitting in a movie theater if a megastar turned to the camera and addressed you by name. If Run-DMC, Nine Inch Nails, 808 State, and and De La Soul are cocaine, "Funky Drummer" is crack. Mr. Brown knew what he had in that rhythm. When he calls for the other instruments to hush, he asks the drummer not to improv, but to keep playing on: "Don't turn it loose, 'cuz it's a mother!" Hell yes, it is!
Latest reader comments