Friday, June 3, 2011

Some Peace of Mind

Curtis Mayfield was born on June 3rd, 1942. He rose to prominence with his group, the Impressions, performing some of the classic hits of Soul music. This music became the "soundtrack" to the Black Pride movement in of the late '60s and the Civil Rights Movement as a whole. In the early '70s, he went solo and became associated with the "Blaxploitation" sound and early Funk.

I'm fond of Funk music, but most of it is exceedingly shallow. That's not the case with Mayfield's music. His music expresses a deep empathy for the plight of the disadvantaged. There is an uplifting social consciousness in his lyrics. This is especially notable when the music is contrasted with other music of the "Blaxploitation" style. Most are praises of destructive machismo and glorification of the violent drug-fueled culture of the protagonists. Mayfield's music captures the same urban vibe, but carries a critical message embedded within the funkiness.

It is this softly sung criticism, delivered in a gentle falsetto, that makes his music so enduring.

Here's my favorite song from Mayfield's Impressions period:

From the 'sploitation era, here's the classic theme:

Finally, Mayfield had a good sense of humor. He did a fantastic retro-funk piece for the Blaxploitation spoof movie, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka:

Here's a link to Curtis Mayfield's Wikipedia page.

Here's a link the the Impressions' Wikipedia page.

And here's the Wikipedia page on Blaxploitation.


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