The Payback - Part I
The Payback - Part I cover
{{{Type}}} by James Brown
Released Template:Start date
Recorded Template:Plainlist
  • August 4, 1973, International Studios, Augusta, GA (basic tracks)
  • September 1973, Advantage Studios, New York, NY (brass and female vocal overdubs)


Genre Funk
Length Template:Plainlist


Label Polydor
Producer James Brown
James Brown charting singles chronology
"Stoned to the Bone - Part 1"
"The Payback - Part I"
"My Thang"

"The Payback" is a funk song by James Brown, the title track from his 1973 album of the same name. The song's lyrics, originally written by trombonist and bandleader Fred Wesley but heavily revised by Brown himself soon before it was recorded, concern the revenge he plans to take against a man who betrayed him. The song is notable for its spare, open arrangement and its use of wah-wah guitar - a relative rarity in Brown's previous funk recordings. Released as a two-part single (featuring a radio announcer at the beginning of part one) in February 1974, it was the first in an unbroken succession of three singles by Brown to reach #1 on the R&B charts that year - the last chart-toppers of his career. It also peaked at number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1][2] It was his second, and final, single to be certified gold by the RIAA.[3]


The song and the album of the same name were originally recorded by Brown as the accompanying soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Hell Up in Harlem (1973), but was rejected by the movie's producers as "the same old James Brown stuff."[4] An incensed Brown decided to release the album and let it stand on its own merits. The subsequent soundtrack was then recorded by Motown Records artist Edwin Starr. Later, Brown recorded "Rapp Payback (Where Iz Moses)", a reworking of "The Payback", in 1980. It was also remade in 1988, remixed and released as "The Payback Mix (Part One)" in the United Kingdom. This version was one of Brown's biggest hits in the UK, reaching #12 on the UK singles chart.


"The Payback" song has been sampled by many musical artists, including numerous hip hop and R&B producers. The group En Vogue recorded two different R&B hits, "Hold On" and "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)", that were both based on loops from the song's rhythm track. LL Cool J sampled "The Payback" in his 1990 song "The Booming System".Guy used the enthusiastic whoops for Dog Me Outin 1991. Mary J. Blige sampled the song for her 1997 hit "Everything". The group Total (featuring Notorious BIG) sampled the song in their 1995 hit "Can't You See". Keith Sweat's group Silk, in the song "Happy Days" sampled "The Payback" from their 1992 debut album, Lose Control, which was produced by Sweat and featured on the track. Big Black released a loose cover of the song on their 1984 Racer-X EP. Massive Attack also sampled the song on their track "Protection" from the 1995 album of the same name. Eboni Foster sampled the song on the single, "Crazy for You" in 1998. Rapper Kendrick Lamar used elements of the song on his 2015 track "King Kunta".

Appearances in other mediaEdit


  1. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 85.
  2. White, Cliff (1991). "Discography". In Star Time (pp. 54–59) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  3. Bloom, Steve. "Anything Left in Papa's Bag?" Down Beat September 1, 1980. Rpt. in The James Brown Reader: Fifty Years of Writing About the Godfather of Soul. Ed. Nelson George and Alan Leeds. New York: Plume, 2008. 160-170.
  4. Smith, RJ. The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, 290. New York: Gotham Books, 2012.
  5. Template:Cite episode

External linksEdit

Template:S-start Template:Succession box Template:S-end

Template:James Brown singles Template:NBA on TBS

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.