Afrika Bambaataa Collaborates with James Brown and Johnny Rotten



Its a wonder James Brown didn’t spontaneously combust he was so full of beans.

There is FAR too much context and history to adequately post a reply here - one that does justice to either James Brown’s incredible personal and artistic contribution and ongoing legacy to music in general or hip-hop in particular. Please, do not rely on shallow and marginalizing efforts to portray him as a pseudo-psychological character study, as in last year’s lamentable “Get On Up” film.

Mr. Brown - as he is always respectfully referred to by veterans of his bands and organizations - is probably the focus of months, or years, of study!

Touched upon here, in one panel, is the “curiosity” of Mr. Brown’s commercial and cultural dominance, despite near-invisible presence on American radios. This also begs for a broader examination of black society in the broader picture of a white power and economic reality. Mr. Brown was “the hardest working man in show business” without hyperbole. He managed more than 200 one-nighter performances in different cities, for much of the 20 years spanning his most active career.

Acutely aware of the need for airwave coverage, James Brown was, by the late 1960’s, the largest independent owner of commercial broadcast radio stations in the US - rivaling many of the corporate franchises and networks in sheer number, if not outright wattage. This was an enterprise he built and maintained while performing at his height of bookings. These were wholly owned by his company and nearly completely black staffed and operated. Again, against the backdrop of explicit, overt racism and marginalization, this accomplishment is woefully under recognized, much less appreciated.

Mr. Brown saw himself - and without irony - as the true representation of “Horatio Alger-model” American success. He recognized the humility of his childhood origins and social/racial categorization as challenging elements that only proved even moreover, that his was a self-made triumph and a necessary example to others.

I deeply suspect the motive of those who focus attention on various flaws of Mr. Brown’s life or character, without honoring his practically super-human level of achievement. There was no one like him before, and we are unlikely to ever see another such.


It sounds like you need to make your own comic about it.


Papa don’t take no mess.

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I can play bass, or draw pictures… Not both in my life today. :smile:

But seriously - “Mr. Dynamite” is the HBO doc done with many of Mr. Brown’s people. It’s on Amazon - and I’d watch it.


I used to have a copy of the Rotten collab. I mean, finding a record in the dollar bin with that bill, how could you not? [checks crates] looks like it’s been purged during any number of moves since acquisition.

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I imagine this will generate more money for Johnny Rotten than his 1997 appearance on Judge Judy:

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Technical quibble: there are far too many cables shown coming out of the turntables and mixers in panel 3. I’m not sure if previous comics have made this same mistake or not. Turntables would have a total of 3 cable connections: 2 RCA audio outs and one power, mixer would have 7: 4 in, 2 out, 1 power.

Major quibble: This really should be split into two larger comics as there is far more to say on James Brown and hip hop besides the Bambaataa record (Double Dee & Steinski’s Lesson 2 was covered before briefly). Really though the Time Zone combo of Bam & Rotten backed by Bill Laswell & his cohorts of superb musicians also has a story behind it

Given that every time James Brown is mentioned he’s almost always referred to as “the hardest working man in show business”, “The Godfather of Soul”, “Soul Brother number one”, etc, I don’t think there’s much chance of his importance to music in general being forgotten.
You can drop a James Brown record on pretty much any dance floor and people will get up and get down.

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