Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud

James Brown (1968)

Q (UK) - - 50 Greatest Revolutionary Songs -

Leg­end has it the Black Pan­thers sparked James Brown’s 1968 po­lit­i­cal awak­en­ing when they left a de­ac­ti­vated hand grenade out­side his Hol­ly­wood ho­tel room. But Brown’s rein­ven­tion as a fig­ure­head for Black Power af­ter a decade as a TV-friendly su­per­star saw him dis­til the mood of the times with typ­i­cal show­man­ship. Recorded in Vox Stu­dios, Los An­ge­les, Say It Loud… was a bravura mix of im­pas­sioned slo­ga­neer­ing and soul tes­ti­fy­ing backed by one of band­leader Al­fred “Pee Wee” El­lis’s most grip­ping funk ar­range­ments. An in­stant suc­cess, the song sold 750,000 copies af­ter re­lease and even saw Brown restyle his fa­mous po­made into an Afro. And while he later sought to down­play its sig­nif­i­cance, its mes­sage of righ­teous self-em­pow­er­ment rang out for decades to come.

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