The Payback

James Brown

About The Payback

"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 sparse, 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. It was his second, and final, single to be certified gold by the RIAA. 


 The easy, fast & fun way to learn how to sing:

Hey, gotta, gotta payback! (the big payback)
I'm mad (the big payback)
Got to get back! 
Need some get back! 
Pay Back! (the big payback)
That's it! 
I'm mad!

You get down with my girlfriend, that ain't right!
Hollerin', cussin', you want to fight
Payback is a thing you gotta see, hey
Brother do any damn thing to me

Sold me out, for chicken change (yes you did!)
Told me that they, they had it all arranged
You had me down, and that's a fact
Now you punk, You gotta get ready
For the big payback! (the big payback!)
That's where I land, the big payback (the big payback!)

I can do wheelin', I can do dealin' (yes you can!) 
But I don't do no damn squealin'
I can dig rappin', I'm ready! I can dig scrappin'
But I can't dig that backstabbin' (oh no!)

The brother getting ready, that's a fact!
Get ready you mother, for the big payback (the big payback!)
Let me hit 'em, hit 'em Ren, hit 'em! 
Hey, hey, woo!
Lord, Lord

Took my money, you got my honey
Don't want me to see what you doing to me
I could get back
I gotta deal with you
I gotta deal with you
I gotta deal with you
I gotta deal with you
Hey, let me tell ya!
Get down with my woman, that ain't right! 
You hollerin' and cussin', you want to fight!
Don't do me no darn favor
I don't know karate, but I know Ka-Razor! (yes we do!)

Huh, hey
Get ready, that's a fact
Get ready you mother for the big payback (the big payback!)
Hey! I'm a man! I'm a man! 
I'm a son of a man, but don't they tell ya then Pappa can
Get ready for the big payback (the big payback!) 
Hit 'em again!

Lord, Lord
Yeah, hey, get ready 
I need it, I need a hit again!
Say it once
Say it once
Say it once
Hit 'em back!
The big payback!

Sold me out for chump change
Said my woman had it all arranged
Tryin' to make a deal, she wants to squeal 
But I had my boys on her heels
Saw when she comin', told a lie 
She broke down like she wanted to die 

I don't care what she does
She gon' be doin' just like she was
Take those kids and raise them up
Somebody teach 'em to be righteous tough
Take her, take that woman, it's one place she found
Just run that mother out of town
Make it get up! Make it get up, get out
Make it get up! Make it get up, get out
I'm mad! I want revenge, I want revenge (the big payback!) 
I want revenge
I want revenge
I want revenge, I want revenge
Can I get some hits? I need those hits
I need those hits, hit me

Lord, I need those hits
Carry on, carry on
Pay back all of it (the big payback!) 
Oh, oh, oh (the big payback!) 
The big payback

 The easy, fast & fun way to learn how to sing:

James Brown

James Joseph Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and recording artist. He is the originator of funk music and is a major figure of 20th century popular music and dance. more »

2 fans

Written by: James Brown, John Starks, Fred Wesley

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

12 facts about this song

Classification - Release
"The Payback" is a song by the influential soul and funk musician, James Brown. The song was released in 1973 as part of an album also titled "The Payback."
Classification - Performance
Known for his passionate performances, James Brown incorporated a unique blend of soul and funk in "The Payback", which would go on to become one of his signature songs.
Classification - Chart position
"The Payback" skyrocketed to the number one spot on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and remained there for a total of two weeks.
Classification - Sales
"The Payback" album was a commercial success, going on to be certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Classification - Music Attributes
The song is notable for its engaging combination of a funky bassline and percussion, along with a stinging brass section complemented by Brown's powerful vocals.
Classification - Context
The album was initially rejected by Brown's record label due to its politically charged nature and intense tone. However, after its success, it was welcomed as another iconic part of Brown’s repertoire.
Classification - Longevity
Even though "The Payback" was released in the early 70s, the song has enjoyed a lasting legacy. It has been sampled by different artists across various genres of music in the years since its release.
Classification - Movie Soundtrack
Interestingly, "The Payback" was initially intended to be a soundtrack for the blaxploitation film, "Hell Up in Harlem," but was rejected for being "the same old James Brown stuff," which later proved to be a misjudgment given the song's tremendous success.
Classification - Song Inspiration
The song and the album as a whole were inspired by the theme of revenge, reflecting some of the personal and professional struggles that Brown faced at the time.
Classification - Sampling
"The Payback" has been widely used in a number of popular songs by major artists. For example, the distinctive opening of the song was sampled by En Vogue for their hit "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" and by Kendrick Lamar for his song "King Kunta."
Classification - Cultural impact
The song's message of revenge against injustice has resonated with many over the years, contributing to its cultural impact and enduring popularity.
Classification - Technicality
The song operates on a duration of 7:39 minutes, making it one of the longer tracks in the soul/funk genre.

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