Curtis Mayfield – Super Fly
When Eminem put together the track “I’m Shady” on his 1999 album The Slim Shady LP, he was surprised to learn he was referencing Curtis Mayfield, not Ice-T, on the chorus. Eminem was only familiar with Ice-T’s 1988 hit “I’m Your Pusher,” which sampled soul, R&B and funk legend Curtis Mayfield’s 1972 track “Pusherman.”
Eminem’s ignorance here, though understandable (by his own admission he grew up strictly into rap music), indicates that we need to be reintroduced to Mayfield. All of his work of the early-to-mid-’70s is recommended, but Super Fly, a soundtrack to the 1972 film of the same name, is the perfect entry point.
First of all, the aforementioned “Pusherman” is addictive. Over a perfectly layered bed of bass, drums, percussion, guitar and wah-wah, Mayfield writes from the point-of-view of a drug dealer with an eye for detail and engaging playfulness. Elsewhere, we’ve got classics like the orchestral funk of “Little Child Runnin Wild” and the dirty groove “Freddie’s Dead.” Even the two instrumental songs fit the album’s mood well.
There were a lot of other great Blaxploitation soundtracks, but this is one that transcends the movie associated with it—the soundtrack out-sold the film.