Throwback: James Brown-The Payback

James Brown’s “The Payback” was the title track from his repurposed 1973 album. The music was originally planned for the Hell Up In Harlem soundtrack until it was rejected by film’s producers. “The Payback” is instantly recognized for its pivotal groove instigated by the wah-wah guitar and Brown’s preacher man announcement that his enemies are about to receive retribution. Brown’s modernized New Orleans funk was an intense evolution of his ’60s sound transformed from an emphasis on the upbeat to a downbeat. The Payback album became one of Brown’s strongest moments in the ’70s and a harbinger for future pop music. The temporary impression “The Payback” left on the charts would be eclipsed by the times it would be sampled over 300 times by hip-hop and R&B producers. “The Payback” may not have been used in Fred Williamson’s movie as planned but has appeared on multiple soundtracks, television shows and video games. James Brown’s influence on pop culture has been compared to the essentialness of water and “The Payback” has been the source of an eternal creative stream. 

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