The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, is the Grandfather of Rap; and that's a fact, jack. Since hip-hop’s inception, rap producers have popularly refreshed Brown’s catalogue as the basis for countless hits. Formative beatmakers Marley Marl, Prince Paul, and the Bomb Squad built signature sounds the drums, bass lines, and ad lib vocals of James Brown's biggest hits and deepest cuts.
In his historic lifetime, James Brown wrote and produced hits that spanned all genres—rock, funk, and blues. Mick Jagger co-produced the upcoming bio-drama Get On Up, based on Brown’s life and career, and featuring rapper Black Thought and neo-soul singer Jill Scott. After portraying Jackie Robinson in 42 last year, 32-year-old Chadwick Boseman will change makeup to play James Brown in Get On Up, which debuts today in theaters nationwide.
Hollywood and the music business are deservedly enthralled to a rock-and-roll legend who inspired literally every genre of popular music in the U.S. in one form or another. It's impossible (or rather impractical) for us to fully list James Brown's relevance to hip-hop culture, so the following tracks are favorites and essentials—these are 11 James Brown tracks that every rap fan should know. This afternoon, Pete Rock just so happened to drop a new James Brown tribute mix that's also a must-spin. Long live Soul Brother Number One.