The Song “Funky Drummer” Is Recorded – 12/20/1969

History |

Those who would think that drummer Clyde Stubblefield was a hip-hop musician would be proven incorrect. That is because Clyde was born in 1943 and by the time he came of age, this form of music had not existed yet; so, anyone would fail to find him if the search was to identify his name in albums that showed the credits on some of the most well-known artists involved in hip-hop.

However, you would hear Clyde’s drumming on the most well-known tracks performed by famous artists such as Ice T’s “O.G. Original Gangster (1991); Eric B & Rakim’s “Lyrics Of Fury” (1988); LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” (1990); N.W.A.’s “**** Tha Police” (1988) and Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power” (1989). Adding to the fact that hundreds of other hip-hop songs can be included, all of those classics uses a beat that is directly drawn from a drum break lasting eight bars that Stubblefield played in what a large majority feel is the most played record in the history of music; artist James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” on December 20th, 1969 that was recorded in Cincinnati, Ohio.

DJs brought about the existence and birth of hip-hop by performing rap over dance records and the records that were suited best for rapping to be successful needed to include what is known as a “breakbeat.” This refers to having a drum break that almost endlessly could be repeated as a support to rapping. The first artist to employ “The Funky Drummer” in this style is impossible to find out; yet, it became so apparent in the DNA of hip-hop right before the start of 1990. Public Enemy’s Chuck D. in 1989 was able to voice it out by name in “Fight The Power” was for hip-hop shorthand itself: “1989! The number, another summer/Sound of ‘The Funky Drummer’”

One thing to keep in mind is that “Funky Drummer” was more of an extended groove than a song. Like a majority of records by James Brown that displayed “Funky Drummer,” it had its starts as an ad-libbed jam before the beginning of a scheduled recording session; this jam was blessed with the appearance of the Godfather of Soul walking in on and announced it was time to record. Rather than using “lyrics,” “Funky Drummer” instead displays sitting back James Brown while allowing the groove to appear stage centered while occasionally interjecting a small bit of yelling motivation to one of his sole band members. When the moment comes to Clyde, James makes sure the understanding is not to perform a fancy solo but continuing with the awesome underlying funky beat as he can be heard saying, “Don’t turn it loose cause it’s a mother.”

Whatever the true intention of how James Brown and one thing to keep in mind is that “Funky Drummer” was more of an extended groove than a song. Like a majority of records by James Brown that displayed “Funky Drummer,” it had its starts as an ad-libbed jam before the beginning of a scheduled recording session; this jam was blessed with the appearance of the Godfather of Soul walking in on and announced it was time to record. Rather than using “lyrics,” “Funky Drummer” instead displays sitting back James Brown while allowing the groove to appear stage centered while occasionally interjecting a small bit of yelling motivation to one of his sole band members. 

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Amanda Miller

Contributor & Chief Coffee Maker

Being from San Diego I have always gone to the Ocean and wrote my thoughts onto paper. Since a young girl writing has been my passion and now I love being creative with what I love. In school I started early writing for my middle school paper and have learned so much since then. I now have an opportunity to do what I love and work from home every day you can't beat it. I look forward to writing some great content for you all and to see the feedback I get in the process. My favorite topic is positive stories showing people helping others.