We could pour out a river of liquor, and it wouldn’t be enough. How else is there to say it? If there had been no you, there’d be no us. Kool Herc, Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash—they took the rhythms you spawned, channeling through Melvin Parker, Clyde Stubblefield, Jabo Starks or any of your other drummers, and cut and scratched them into a whole new thing.
New, yes. But the essence remains. That elusive, hard-to-define but impossible-to-mistake magic called funk. You made that. That was you. Your moves, your grooves, your style, your voice. Funk. Personified. That was you, and it became George, and Sly, and Rick and Prince. And then it became us.
Our pulse, our beat, our mind, our rhymes. You were the most natural MC ever to touch a mic, ever to command a stage or move a crowd. Shit, you might have coined a term with “Brother Rapp” back in 1970. You were always nice off the dome—the ad-lib sermons like “Escape-Ism,” the off-the-cuff back-and-forth with the band, like in “Mind Power,” even just calling out to Maceo for a blast of sax. “Hit me!” you’d say, but, really, it would hit us. From the more blatant examples of your influence—Big Daddy Kane, Mystikal—to those who show it more subtly—Ghostface, say, or Kanye—anyone who’s ever spit verses of rapid-fire couplets surely got touched.
Not that any of this would be news to you. You were never shy or falsely modest. You said you taught us everything we know, but not, wink, everything you knew.
We’ll be studying ’til the day we join you, learning everything we can. And we’ll carry your spirit within. Forever.