Digging the Digital Crates: Clyde Stubblefield, Hip-Hop's Funky Drummer
Updated: Oct 10, 2018
Clyde Stubblefield drummed in James Brown's band from 1965 to 1970 and played on iconic James Brown tracks from "Cold Sweat" to "Say It Loud--I'm Black and I'm Proud." He also composed the iconic drum track to James Brown's "Funky Drummer" that has become the backing drums to numerous hip-hop tracks, including iconic tracks like Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" and N.W.A.'s "Fuck tha Police."
Here's a short video of Stubblefield describing his composition of "Funky Drummer," his involvement with James Brown, and his perspective on his hip-hop legacy.
Stubblefield's infamous drum loop can be heard in the break of James Brown's "Funky Drummer" (1969) @5:30.
WhoSampled.com lists MC Quick Quinton and MC Mello J's "The Classy M.C.s" (1985) as the first recorded samples of "Funky Drummer," but DJ's as far back as Kool Herc most likely sampled Stubblefied's break beat.
Public Enemy sampled it in their famous raucous track "Fight the Power" (1989), which also gained traction as the title track for Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989).
N.W.A. sampled Stubblefield in the classic and provocative track "Fuck the Police" (1988) @0:30.
Ice T samples it in "O.G. Original Gangster" (1991)
Lupe Fiasco sampled it in "The Cool" (2006).
And Nicki Minaj sampled it in "Save Me" (2010).
While most of the samples come from the late 80s and 90s, artists have turned again and again to Stubblefield's break beat in "Funky Drummer." His work on "Cold Sweat" and "Say It Loud" have likewise been sampled throughout hip-hop history by major and minor artists. Although he passed away last year in Wisconsin, Stubblefield's legacy will live long past the end of his life. James Brown may be the Godfather of Soul and the Grandfather of Hip-Hop, but Clyde Stubblefield is its soul.