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godfather 1933The Music Director gets on up: A year ago today, on December 28, 2006, tens of thousands of the city’s most soulful citizens made their way to 125th St in Harlem to see James Brown’s final public New York appearance. It was– as anybody who was there will tell ya’ll– quite a show. Ernie Koy Jr. walked over from the Bronx, I accidentally touched the hem of Al Sharpton’s garment (sweaty!), BZA was shooting non-stop & Angry M.F. Fisher caught up on the local Senegalese scene. The Publisher was there also, of course, & in Pitkin Avenue hustler’s convention mode too, handing out New York Calling: From Blackout To Mr. Brown t-shirts, postcards & calendars like the brother had ants in his pants. Get involved, get involved, get involved!

Likewise enthused, in an allhiphop.com interview shortly after Mr. Brown’s death:

KRS-One: James Brown is the Grandfather of Hip-Hop, of course recognizing Kool Herc as the father. You’re talking to a 25 year theologian, and Christ is my s**t. Jesus is my s**t, that’s my n***a! [Laughs] This guy, James Brown, dying on Christmas is very symbolic. Dying on Christmas, we know God is looking at us! We established right here and now. According to Christian tradition, James Brown dying on Jesus’ birthday means that Hip-Hop starts today. If you ask me, I think we should start Hip-Hop over on every Christmas. James Brown dying on Christmas, Lord have mercy! We have the opportunity, right now, to take Christmas [to share a federal holiday for Hip-Hop]. We can use federal law to our advantage. James Brown dying on Christmas Day means that for us, we don’t have to celebrate Christmas no more, that’s over! That “White Christmas” bulls**t is over! Jesus wasn’t born on Christmas, we know that’s a lie now. Christmas has nothing to do with the birth of the Christ, much less gift-giving, commercialism, and consumerism. Now, Hip-Hop has a chance to reestablish what Christmas really about. Christmas is about the birth of tbobby’s happy househe Christ within yourself. You celebrate Christmas and you don’t say, “Jesus is born on this day,” – the ancient reason is Christ is born in you! God is born in you for another year. James Brown passing on Christmas could mean the birth of Soul in you. He is the Godfather of Soul – not Pop, not R&B, not Rock, not Blues, not Jazz – Soul music!

We should print the lyrics of “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” and we should say it every Christmas. [KRS recites lyrics] He summed up the entire Black struggle. James Brown dying on Christ’s birthday shows not only who he was – Christ returned – but that Hip-Hop has a chance, politically, to take a day. Let’s celebrate James Brown! Hip-Hoppers celebrate the birth of their Soul, the birth of their Christ, the birth of their nature. Every Christmas, we gonna play James Brown records. All that White Jesus stuff is over! Matter of fact, I’m gonna call James Brown “James Brown the Christ.” When you look at Jesus, look at James Brown. Why wouldn’t you? The first painting of Jesus – the White man with long flowing hair is not what Jesus special agent??looked like – we know this. But we accept the lie out of habit, and it’s destroying us. The Vatican knows this! The Vatican says Jesus could be any color, any faith. Why not James Brown? Hip-Hoppers could say “James the Christ.” Further, Lord have mercy, in The Bible James was the brother of Christ. Hip-Hop could do this so sweetly, and take a federal holiday for itself, establishing what Christmas really means.

There is nobody who is more influential to Hip-Hop than James Brown. Kool Herc said that James Brown was the A-1 b-boy, the first MC, the first DJ – ‘cause he had two drummers. The drummer was what the turntable was today. When one finished playing, the other’d start, and sometimes they’d play together! Tell me this man is not the Christ! Tell me this man is not is Hip-Hop, straight up! James Brown is our artistic father. We all sample from him. This is a day where we exchange gifts. The gift exchanged with us from James was our culture. He freely gave his music to our culture. To me, that brings tears to my eyes! That’s some god s**t. That’s the lord and savior. On December 25th, James Brown gives the gift of himself to his children. What’s the gift we should be givin’ back? We should be givin’ back his request. “These record companies stole from me, get it back.” Get it back, children. There should be a James Brown Soul Museum, not a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. James Brown.

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