Hip-Hop is not dead, but James Brown is. As there are undoubtedly more important accomplishments to go through when looking back on the life and times of the Soul Brother No. 1, not every eulogy will mention his influence on the music covered by this publication, but this Christmas a part of hip-hop died. Rap music as we know it would not exist without The World’s Greatest Entertainer. It would not exist without “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” “Funky Drummer,” “Cold Sweat,” “Give it up Or Turnit a Loose,” and “Ain’t it Funky Now.” While early on he bestowed the title Godfather of Soul upon himself, James Brown was an innovator like only few musicians of the last century. He had a hand in, for instance, the creation of funk. Musicians such as Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, St. Clair Pickney, Bobby Byrd, Jimmy Nolen, Bootsy Collins and many others assisted him along the way. It were funky drummers like Clyde Stubblefield and John ‘Jabo’ Starks whose grooves inspired b-boys to dance to the drummer’s beat, causing Kool DJ Herc and his followers to play what would become known as breakbeats. James Brown and his bands fertilized the ground in which hip-hop, which at times seemed nothing more than a freak of nature, could develop and eventually grow into something of its own.

No matter how many stars rap music continues to produce, artistically none of them stands as tall as Mr. Dynamite. Bandleader, songwriter, showman, producer, hardest working man in show business. The message of his music, conveyed through notes, grooves, or words, rubbed off on the young people that made rap what it is. Songs like “Say it Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” “Talkin’ Loud & Sayin’ Nothing,” “Soul Power,” “Get Up, Get Into and Get Involved,” or “Damn Right I Am Somebody” radiated the energy that hip-hop hoped to emulate. Brown also embodied the determination that hip-hop continues to champion. As he offered in 1971: “I’m still on the case and my rap is strong.” In short, the Brother had the Rapp long before any of the MC’s covered by RapReviews.com ever had it.

With literally hundreds of compositions sampling his music, James Brown has lived on in hip-hop, but without it his work would have remained just as relevant. Yet as we mourn the possibly single most important ancestor of hip-hop, the music that once soaked up his cold sweat and replayed his impeccable sense of rhythm, goes through yet another crisis. Our site makes you a weekly witness to the fact that, despite contrary claims, hip-hop is alive and well. The majority of the albums we collectively reviewed in 2006 has passed us by individually. But some we do remember, in vivid detail even. So here is a collection of songs the RapReviews.com staff deems intriguing and important enough to be placed on…

The 2006 Virtual RapReviews.com Year End Compilation

“Please Forgive Me” – Storm the Unpredictable – from “A2: What Should Have Been
“You Still Ain’t Listenin’ (The ’06 Fix Up)” – A-Train – from “Welcome to the Revolution, Vol. 1
“Yao Ming” – Dumhi – from “They Call Me Bruce
“Cruise” – XV – from “Complex
“ELEctrik HeaT – the seekwiLL” – K-Os – from “Atlantis: Hymns for Disco
“Tour of Duty” – Hall of Justus – from “Soldiers of Fortune
“Tuxedo Rap” – People Under The Stairs – from “Stepfather
“Get Facts” – Eyezon – from “7 Miles From Earth
“Gets Mine” – Oh No f. Buckshot – from “Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms
“Respect” – De La Soul – from “Impossible Mission TV Series Pt. 1
“Oblique Brown” – Oblique Brown – from “Oblique Brown
“Southern Man” – Deaf In The Family f. Bavu Blakes – from “For Those About to Rock
“Live For Hip Hop” – MXX f. Masta Ace, Zoxea – from “Street Selection Volume One