AIN’T IT FONK-AY: RJ SMITH ON JAMES BROWN

  via truthdig:

Mythic and imperious, James Brown ranks as one of the last century’s most important acts, defying musical gravity along with Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix and perhaps Ray Charles. Since his death in 2006, Brown looms over soul, funk and rap more as symbol than musician, a simplification and oversight that RJ Smith corrects on nearly every page of his radiant new biography.

Smith, a former Village Voice music critic and author of “The Great Black Way,” a nuanced history of the Los Angeles R&B scene, argues that Brown’s nasty shouts atop even nastier rhythmic turns made descriptors like “soul,” “funk” and “jive” vastly inadequate. Smith reaches beyond superlatives for evocative descriptions like this: “Other artists made things, but Brown made experience—he was a verb, and his true medium was us…”

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