Hi all, decided to suggest that people on here write a piece about an artist / genre / label they love, with the idea that I post them on a weekly-ish basis and we chat about them and that.
First up we have @furryfan on the great Curtis Mayfield.
Here’s what furryfan wrote:
i’m a white person from a later time than Curtis Mayfield, lacking authenticity on this subject and possibly accuracy, so let’s get cracking! I thought he’d make a good subject, because for one of the ‘greats’ with a deep catalogue, he has a relatively small amount of widely known material in comparison to artists of a similar stature. it’s probably only ‘movin on up’ and a couple of songs from ‘superfly’ at a push that you’d hear in occasional rotation on say, 6music. if we include his pre-solo group the impressions, ‘people get ready’, too. apart from those records, I arrived at him sideways, being such a fan of lampchop’s version of ‘give me your love’ and silicone soul sampling him on ‘right on 4 tha darkness’. hearing dilla sampling the impressions on ‘love’, I wanted to hear more Mayfield, finding it intriguing that his string arrangements would have such disparate appeal across country, house and hip-hop. those strings from when it was more common for pop records to have luxurious instrumentation. it feels reductive to boil down that complex music to a genre. listen my favourite song ‘underground’ with it’s “hell” section and “black” dub echo. soul? if you must.
think it’s an interesting contrast that ‘superfly’ the movie comes from the apparently low budget blaxploitation genre and Mayfield’s soundtrack is his most polished production. as was the trend, at the end of the 70s he dabbled in disco (‘do it all night’ album), to which those strings are a good fit. check ‘dirty laundry’ for his take on country. the album it comes from, ‘honesty’ doesn’t have a dud on it.
he seems to have had a particular influence on southern hip hop, with ugk sampling him on ‘pinky ring’, pusha t taking “i’m your pusha” from ‘pusherman’ and outkast saying they aimed at his voice (via sleepy brown) on ‘player’s ball’. so it was neatly circular for organized noise and associate musicians to have audible involvement on the final Mayfield album, ‘new world order’. from it, ‘here but i’m gone’ heartbreakingly flips ‘pusherman’ from his heyday… “I do nothing but waste all my time, leaving the world behind, smoking my crack just to keep me high”. these drug lyrics are unrepresentative, so more from ‘underground’, in our current (and past) environment “how will we deal with our society of discrimination?”.
please indulge my theory on one of those Mayfield influenced… the aforementioned ‘love’ by j dilla. the song it sampled ‘we must be in love’ is from Mayfield’s last album with the impressions before going solo, ‘move on up’ featuring on that debut album. dilla perhaps knew he was at the end of his life, making ‘love’. it was the first song released after his death, days later. I wonder if he says with that sample he’s leaving us (the impressions), going alone (solo Mayfield). to ascend (‘move on up’), if you’re feeling spiritual. sorry if you don’t like ‘room 237’ style conspiracies, but ‘love’ is taken from dilla’s ‘the shining’ album, with artwork from the movie.
Favourite track: Underground
Favourite Album: Got to Find a Way
10 track playlist:
(on youtube cos not all his albums are on spotify, soz)