I’ve never missed having a “father” in my life being that I had so many strong male influences growing up but listening to the late, great James Brown’s “Papa Don’t Take No Mess” I actually wish I had a cool ass daddy like he did. The song has very few lines but each one of them you can tell was heartfelt, impactful and coming from a place of deep love for his father.
Check it out if you don’t know it (Video following the article).
Lessons from Papa…
“Papa digs the chick If she look real slick, Papa rap is very quick He definitely ain’t no trick.”
What I get from this is that Papa spits his game directly and to the point; being that he is a man of confidence and stature, the chick either gets on board or keeps it moving. I love the hell out of this, Papa “definitely ain’t no trick” so he isn’t buying gifts, paying for groceries or brown nosing women to get with them. He gets to the point and his words are golden – take it or leave it.
“Papa didn’t cuss, didn’t raise a whole lotta fuss but when we did wrong Papa beat the hell outta us!”
Sounds to me like the strong, silent type with a firm hand as a disciplinarian. While many of us can be one or the other, Papa is the type of traditional man who you have to respect with a small inkling of fear. Nobody acts foul under Papa’s watch because there will be hell to pay, but at the same time he is no savage: cussing, being loud and carrying on.
“I saw Papa cry when he thought that I would die… said something was in his eye… I knew it was a lie.”
Many of you will take issue with this portion being that in this modern day men are pushed to cry more, feel more and open up more. But in the time of James Brown’s father a man crying was absolutely unheard of. Yet with that pressure of manhood on his shoulders he is unable to withhold the emotions behind losing his son… you have to respect that. Papa is human after all, plus how funny is it that he played it off as something being in his eye?
“Mama said… Papa’s smart, Papa got a whole lotta heart, Papa would do his part when the game get hard.”
This last line is the real meat and potatoes of the song… “Papa got a whole lotta heart” is saying that Papa would not back down when it came time to dance in any situation. Papa was brave, and quick with his mind – that’s where “Papa’s smart” comes in. James mother is letting him know just how badass his Papa really was
“Papa would do his part when the game get hard” – see the way I read that is that Papa was a hustler. If there were no groceries, Papa would do the damn thing and provide, which is the heart and soul of being a man in our society now isn’t it? No, Papa wasn’t complaining or crying about life, feeling sorry for his self, Papa did his part when the game got hard.
Thank you James Brown, you were a legend and an icon whose music taught us so much more than you would believe.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.