James Brown

Hot Pants

Song Review by

Like many R&B performers, James Brown had a penchant for knocking out the occasional ode to the female form. Brown's most memorable entry into this arena is "Hot Pants," an entertainingly salacious track that marries lustful raps to a groove that is difficult to resist. Interestingly, the lyrics divide their time between ogling women who wear the title garment and admiring them for using "what they got/to get what they want." The music behind these sentiments focuses on groove instead of melody, pacing the lyrics to create a rhythmic effect (especially on the catchy, oft-repeated "she got to use what she got/To get what she wants"). James Brown's recording of the song further draws out this rhythmic style with an arrangement that builds itself on a scratching, infectious rhythm guitar riff and layers swinging horn arrangements over the top. It also works in some nice instrumental breaks that raise the song excitement level with staccato, ascending bass, and horn riffs. The song is topped off nicely by Brown's witty but soulful rapped vocals about the title subject. The combination of a timely subject and infectious riffing made "Hot Pants" a major hit for Brown, shooting to the top of the R&B charts and achieving a respectable Top 15 ranking on the pop charts. Brown later re-recorded the tune for the Hot Pants album in a version that upped the tempo to create a more frenetic feel. The song is pretty potent either way but many funk fans prefer the original single version, whose relaxed but swinging feel captures the lyrical feel perfectly.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Hot Pants 1971 Polydor 8:42
No Image 1977 Polydor 0:00
In the Jungle Groove 1986 Polydor / Universal 0:00
Billboard Hot Soul Hits: 1971 1995
Various Artists
Rhino 3:09
Golden Hits [Intercontinental] 1996 Intercontinental Records 1:16
Classic Funk, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
Import 8:40
James Brown's Golden Classics 1997 Intercontinental Records 1:12
Golden Hits [Galaxy] 1997 Galaxy Music 0:56
Gold Collection [Fine Tune] 1998 Fine Tune 0:56
Prisoner of Love [Madacy] 1999 Madacy 0:52
James Brown/Ray Charles 2000 Platinum Disc 1:04
Remixed Dance Hits 2001 Golden Music / Cleopatra 4:59
The James Brown Collection, Vol. 2 2001 Dressed To Kill 1:06
Out of Sight: Greatest Hits 2002 Universal International 3:06
Hang All DJ's, Vol. 2 2003
Various Artists
Wax / Waxed Soul Recordings 0:43
Back 2 Back 2004 Masters / Double Play Records 1:15
Greatest Breakbeats 2004 Polydor 0:00
Give It Up or Turn It Loose 2004 Pazzazz 1:16