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Chuck D Pays Homage to Clyde Stubblefield
March 2nd, 2017

Last weekend marked the passing of one among music's finest artists of all time, Clyde Stubblefield, best known as The James Brown's “Funky Drummer.”

Over the decades, the iconic drummer would also win acclaim among the music history's most sampled artists, which beats picked up by countless hip-hop artists, including N.W.A., Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, Wu-Tang Clan, LL Cool J, even spanning to more contemporary artists such as Ed Sheeran.

Chuck D knew a thing or two about breakbeat sampling from the funky drummer's handy-work, considering the influential depth both Brown and Stubblefield had with the PE frontman, not to mention their classic “Fight The Power” with said sampling.

“You can't point to James Brown without somehow pointing something at Clyde Stubblefield, Bootsy [Collings], Maceo [Parker], and all the king's men so to speak,” mentioned Chuck in an interview with HipHopDx, “Clyde is the one who made James even go to the next level, and he expressed that in those songs very clearly.”

He adds, “He let the world know how much Clyde was the funk in his bone. I'm very blessed and honored to have conversations with the man.”

While the list extends towards limitless boundaries, some of the most popular breakbeats were sampled out of Stubblefield's contributions on Brown's hits like “I Got The Feelin,” “Sex Machine,” “Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud,” “Cold Sweat,” “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved,” “Mother Popcorn,” and “Ain't It Funky Now.”

“As for the element of the drums, it wasn't always 'Funky Drummer',” Chuck continues, “It was a style of repetition that was emulated as opposed to just the actual sound. You know, holding it there, and keeping steady with the vamp. Not trying to go off into different tangents and changes and arrangements.”

He finishes, “It's key for an orchestrator to keep it there, staying in that rhythm and keeping that time. They kept the rhythm. That's why Clyde Stubblefield (and Jabo Starks) were his most proficient drummers. I think of grooves of James Brown had Clyde in it subliminally... People kind of doubled up on Clyde, which is kind of dope. [Public Enemy's] 'Bring The Noise' is [Brown's] 'Give It Up, Turn It Loose' backwards. As you're chopping up the beat and the groove, you're making them both work.”

By Jods Arboleda for PublicEnemy.com