In the late '80s and early '90s, Clyde Stubblefield was the most sampled drummer in hip-hop -- especially on the East Coast. Back then, Marley Marl and other New York hip-hop producers sampled James Brown over and over -- and because Stubblefield played on so many of the Godfather's '60s recordings, his classic drum beats were resurrected on countless rap tunes. By the mid-'90s, Brown and Stubblefield weren't being sampled nearly as much in hip-hop; regardless, Stubblefield knew he had an impressive resumé and started recording under his own name a few years later. Produced by Leo Sidran in 2003 (with Ben Sidran serving as executive producer) and released in early 2004, The Original is Stubblefield's second album as a leader. The Original is, for the most part, an album of '70s-minded funk and soul (with a few detours into instrumental jazz-funk territory). Given Stubblefield's impressive history, one greets this disc with high expectations; the material, however, falls short of exceptional. But The Original isn't a bad album either; although mildly uneven and not as consistent as it could have been, The Original has its share of enjoyably catchy grooves -- most notably, "Okay" and "Hippest March, Pt. 1." Another noteworthy track is the jazz-funk instrumental "Stubbs' Relentless Groove," which has a strong Crusaders influence and isn't unlike something Wayne Henderson would have produced around 1973 or 1974. At that time, the Crusaders (as opposed to the Jazz Crusaders) were trying hard to attract R&B audiences -- and they were certainly well aware of what Stubblefield had accomplished in the Godfather of Soul's employ. The Original isn't the masterpiece it could have been, but it's a generally decent effort from someone who has every right to describe himself as the Original Funky Drummer.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson