Saturday, June 16, 2012

"The Boss" By James Brown

Years before Gangsta rap blew up in the early '90s, James Brown was releasing gangsta cuts like "The Boss," "Papa Don't Take No Mess" and "The Payback." I guess you could say that James was the ultimate OG. The smooth funk groove on "The Boss" has so much swagger that it can make even the most funkless and uncool among us feel like Miles Davis for a minute.

"The Boss" is from Brown's soundtrack for the 1973 blaxploitation film Black Caesar starring Fred Williamson. The film is about the rise and fall of a powerful Harlem crime boss. It's no Shaft or Super Fly, but it's a decent flick and better than many other similar films of the genre.

Some of the song's lyrics seem like they could be about James himself. He was always a boss. I like how he defiantly blurts out, "Told you so!" during the bridge. It's like he's taunting all those who said he'd never get over and doubted the power of his funk. The groove is just so chill, and the bass line is a killer. Also, the horn arrangements by Fred Wesley are stone-cold.

With its gangsta themes and swaggering funk, it's not surprising that hip-hop artists picked up on the track. Gangtsa rap pioneer Ice-T famously sampled the groove for his 1990 single "You Played Yourself." The track has been sampled by a number of other hip-hop artists as well. "The Boss" was written by James Brown, Fred Wesley and Charles Bobbit.

Download "The Boss" at Amazon

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