James Brown

Funky President (People It's Bad)

Composed by James Brown

Song Review by

This song, a highlight of James Brown's Reality album, is a solid example of how Brown's grasp of rhythmic arrangements could transform a song that seems simple on paper into a hard-grooving delight on record. The lyrics of "Funky President" represent the political message song at its simplest, simply asserting that all we need "to get over" is a "funky president." The music is similarly streamlined. However, Brown's recording of the song gives it a shot of life thanks to an intensely funky arrangement that is built on wah-wah-drenched rhythm guitar riff and an infectious drum groove. The song also works in punchy horn riffs and hypnotic electric keyboards to build a densely funky backdrop for Brown's exuberantly soulful vocal. This arrangement made "Funky President" one of Brown's catchiest and most appealing tracks from this era. Sadly, this was only partially reflected in its chart success: it went Top Ten on the R&B charts but missed the pop charts altogether. Despite this mixed success, "Funky President" remains a popular feature on Reality, and the infectious guitar/drum hook that opens the song has become a popular break for hip-hop fans.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Papa's Got a Brand New Bag [Polygram] 1965 Special Music 4:01
Reality 1974 Universal 4:28
No Image 1977 Polydor
No Image 1985 Polydor
Star Time 1991 Universal 3:58
Make It Funky - The Big Payback: 1971-1975 1996 Mercury / Universal Motown 4:09
40th Anniversary Collection 1996 Polydor / Universal Music 4:02
Funky Milestones 1997
Various Artists
ZYX Music 4:04
Non-Stop Funk, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Chronicles / Polygram 4:43
Mastercuts: Breaks [2001] 2001
Various Artists
Mastercuts 4:00
Sampled, Vol. 3 2002
Various Artists
Virgin 3:58
Ultimate Collection 2003 Universal Distribution 4:02
The  50th Anniversary Collection 2003 Polydor / Universal 3:54
Greatest Breakbeats 2004 Polydor / Universal 3:59
Greatest Hits [Collectables] 2004 Universal Special Products / PSM 4:01
The Best of James Brown 20th Century :The Millennium Collection Vol. 3 2005 Polydor 3:56
Rock On: Breakout Years 2005 Madacy 4:01
James Brown Story 2006 Universal International
Fine Old Foxy Self 2006 UMVD 3:57
Fine Old Foxy Self: James Brown 1970s 2006 Universal Distribution 3:57
Gold 2007 Universal 4:02
The 50 Greatest Songs 2007 Universal / Universal Distribution 4:00
The Singles, Vol. 9: 1973-1975 2010 Hip-O Select / IMS / Universal 4:02
5 Classic Albums 2014 Polydor 3:57
blue highlight denotes editor's pick