'James Brown', 'Jamesbrown', James Brown: Black (music) from the getup

Brar, Dhanveer Singh (2015) 'James Brown', 'Jamesbrown', James Brown: Black (music) from the getup. Popular Music, 34(3), pp. 471-484. ISSN (print) 0261-1430


The following article addresses the question of the blackness and radicalism of James Brown’s musical performances during what was arguably the peak of his career between 1964 and 1971. Using analytical frameworks from the fields of black studies, performance studies, and cultural theory, the article presents an argument for listening to Brown’s music in terms of the modalities of rupture. The activity of rupture is tracked through the preface to his autobiography, the stage performance he developed in the early part of his career, and the experiments in rhythm he orchestrated with his band in 1964. The article culminates in a close listening of the 1971 record ‘Super Bad’ as the aesthetic height of a black radicalism Brown was producing through his music.

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