From world-famous rappers to fans in their 20s, the reaction to the death of funk/soul icon James Brown at the age of 73 on Christmas day was immediate and emotional "I had the opportunity to meet him and present a award to him this year. … I spoke in front of hundreds in his honor," Nas explained of his introduction to Brown, whose indelible funk breaks have formed the backbone of hundreds of hip-hop tunes over the years. "I looked directly at him. He smiled while I told him how I used his music with mine and how much he's done for us and how I love him. I'm lucky to have had that moment, shook his hand. He was pure greatness."
The emotion was even deeper for Snoop Dogg, who said the death was like losing a member of his family. "I am hurt. That's my godfather, my soul inspiration, the hardest-working man in show business of all time," Snoop said in a statement. "He'll be missed, but his music and his legacy will live on through me, in every way you can imagine. Soul brother #1. … We miss you, James Brown."
For funk bass icon Bootsy Collins — who began playing as part of Brown's backing band, the JB's, in 1968 at the age of 17 — the time with the "Godfather of Soul" was a university of funk that he will never forget. Though Collins left the JB's in 1971 after bristling under the harsh system of discipline Brown meted out to members of the group who got out of line, in his first official comments on Brown's death, Collins wrote, "Mr. Brown was the God of Rhythm and Music. Me along with countless other musicians were his Sons. No one else will ever come close. For he is declared this day by all Funkateer's across the globe: 'The Funkiest Mutha in the Universe.' "
Brown, whose music has inspired everyone from Dr. Dre and Diddy to Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo, Rage Against the Machine and the Neptunes, was also praised by rock's elite for his contributions to musical history.
"James Brown is the reason I fell in love with music. He will be forever loved and remembered," Diddy told MTV News. "He was a whirlwind of energy and precision, and he was always very generous and supportive to me in the early days of the Stones," Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger said in a statement. "His passing is a huge loss to music." Early rock legend Little Richard also gave props to Brown for his irrefutable part in helping to shape hip-hop. "He was an innovator, he was an emancipator, he was an originator. Rap music, all that stuff came from James Brown," Richard said, according to The Associated Press.
One of the artists whose music was most heavily influenced by Brown, Public Enemy's Chuck D, wrote a long tribute to the "Godfather of Soul" on the official P.E. Web site in the hours after the news of Brown's death spread. "I had heard things like Mr. Brown was pushing it real hard, defying gravity and time itself," wrote D, whose group sampled Brown's inescapable "funky drummer" beat on such songs as "Bring the Noise," "Fight the Power" and "Rebel Without a Pause." "When talking music, JB was/is just part of the day, thank God for recordings," Chuck D wrote. "As a 70's B-boy I recall panic on the floors of hip-hop while ['Give it Up or Turnit a Loose'] roasted off the  Sex Machine Live LP, transfixing the forming rap nation ten years later, as if it were a discovered oil well. While the rest of the disco and rock country had not a clue." D reminisced about the one, brief time he met Brown backstage at a music event a few years back and how whenever he thinks of Brown, it transports him back to being a child, trying to imitate the singer's signature dance moves. "Whenever I see a frozen pond, I take myself to 1967 when us kids did the James Brown 'I Feel Good' dance on any patch of ice," he wrote, adding that even if corporate radio and the mainstream don't properly honor Brown's legacy, those who were touched by him should "realize how lucky many of us are to have witnessed, experienced, and infused the work and pride ethics of the godfather of soul into our daily lives. For that alone we are all better for it. Probably the hardest-working man in heaven right now … but may his funky soul R.I.P."
Gangsta-rap icon Ice Cube also alluded to the role Brown's indelible breaks and powerfully funky music played in helping to push rap forward. "James Brown was the first solo singer that I loved as a kid," Cube said. "He was not only the godfather of soul, but the godfather of funk and rap. Music will never be the same."
Brown entered a Georgia hospital over the weekend and died due to heart failure early Christmas morning. According to friend Charles Bobbit, Brown said "I'm going away tonight" shortly before his death, the AP reported. Tributes to "Mr. Excitement" began springing up all over as word of his death spread, from candles left near his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles to a steady line of people paying homage and laying flowers at the base of statue of Brown in his hometown of Augusta, Georgia.
The loss of the "Hardest-Working Man in Show Business" — who was still planning to play a New Year's Eve show in New York, even as he lay dying in a Georgia hospital room — was also felt heavily by MTV News readers, who weighed in with their thoughts.
A 19-year-old reader named Devont, 19, from Johnson City, Tennessee, wrote in to say, "The death of James Brown turned my family upside down. His music was a huge part of our lives, and I know I speak for the world when I say that he is loved and will be missed. There will never be another singer who will equal the impact him made in music and in life."
Devont wasn't the only Brown fan decades too young to remember the man in his prime who still felt the loss very personally. "James Brown was an icon to the African-American community, and his influence reached many other cultures," wrote Tasha, a 32-year-old from Chicago, Illinois. "I can only imagine how it felt for him to reach so many people by doing what he loved. I thank God that he was able to accomplish all the things he aspired to do and did best."
From Jackie, 21, in Chino Hills, California ("You will always be remembered for entertaining us, and your music will never be forgotten") to Michael, 25, in Bangor, Maine ("James Brown was a true great and should be on everyone's playlist. His impact on music has been huge, and can be felt and heard in almost every R&B artist performing today"), fans of all ages wrote in to attest to the influence Brown had on modern music.
For those old enough to have seen Brown live and witness how his songs helped inspire generations, the singer's death was a chance to remember Brown in his prime. "I saw him a few times and was blown away by each show," said John, 56, of Bel Air, Maryland. "He always stayed true to his craft, and had more influence on hip-hop and other forms of music than he got credit for. He was a true legend in the music world, and he will be truly missed."
Even an avowed metalhead like Ricky, 25, from Baltimore, Maryland, was feeling the loss. "I just don't think of men like him ever going away," he wrote. "Even though I'm into rock and metal, I'll stop and listen to him when the chance arises. I guess God needed someone for his New Year's bash this time around."