Next up: influential funk and soul singer-songwriter Curtis Mayfield. Curtis Mayfield was an odd choice to write a blaxploitation soundtrack. His writing was characterised by open-heartedness, empathy and nuance; for all its importance in bringing black experience to mainstream cinema, blaxploitation films were frequently violent, cartoonish and shocking.
The three albums to check out next
The album to start with
Produced by the Dust Brothers , the album is composed almost entirely from samples , and was recorded over two years at Matt Dike 's apartment and the Record Plant in Los Angeles. Paul's Boutique did not match the sales of group's debut Licensed to Ill , and was promoted minimally by Capitol. However, it became recognized as the group's breakthrough achievement, with its innovative lyrical and sonic style earning them a position as critical favorites within the hip-hop community. Sometimes described as the " Sgt. Pepper of hip-hop",  Paul's Boutique has since been placed on several lists of the greatest albums of all time, and is viewed by many critics as a landmark album in hip hop. Derided as one-hit wonders and estranged from their previous producer, Rick Rubin , and record label, Def Jam , Beastie Boys were in self-imposed exile in Los Angeles during early , after being written off by most music critics. Paul's Boutique was produced with the Dust Brothers , whose use of sampling helped establish the practice of multi-layered sampling as an art in itself.
Released in on his own Curtom Records, Super Fly served as the soundtrack for the film of the same name. Mayfield's falsetto and notable talent led him to join the Impressions at the young age of 16, where his songwriting skills and singing brought him success ahead of his prolific solo career. Lyrically and musically, 'Super Fly' resonates with the same urgency it had upon its release almost 50 years ago. His guitar playing and jazz-influenced sense of harmony were based on his own guitar tuning - low to high F A C F A F - that made harmonic choices like minor 7ths and major 7ths user friendly and gave his watery, pentatonic guitar lines a signature sound. Lyrically and musically, Super Fly resonates with the same urgency it had upon its release almost 50 years ago. Mayfield testifies about the realities of drug dealing, addiction and bad life choices. Yet, despite the subject matter, the lovely melodies and feminine register of his falsetto is beautiful and comforting. When I listen to Super Fly , I hear compassion and hope. His beautiful falsetto never ceased, and his musicality always shone through like a beautiful light, right up to his death in
Blaxploitation or blacksploitation is an ethnic subgenre of the exploitation film that emerged in the United States during the early s. The films, while popular, suffered backlash for disproportionate numbers of stereotypical film characters showing bad or questionable motives, including most roles as criminals resisting arrest. However, the genre does rank among the first in which black characters and communities are the heroes and subjects of film and television, rather than sidekicks, villains, or victims of brutality. Blaxploitation films were originally aimed at an urban African-American audience,  but the genre's audience appeal soon broadened across racial and ethnic lines. Hollywood realized the potential profit of expanding the audiences of blaxploitation films across those racial lines. Variety credited Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song and the less radical, Hollywood-financed film Shaft both released in with the invention of the blaxploitation genre. Blaxploitation films set in the Northeast or West Coast mainly take place in poor urban neighborhoods.