Superfly (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)
Even those who'd been following Curtis Mayfield's post-Impressions solo work must have been floored by Superfly upon its appearance in 1972. Taking on the job of scoring a blaxploitation flick about a dope dealer with hopes of escaping the game, Mayfield made his subtlest and yet most forceful statement to date. Backed by his tight band and the occasional widescreen orchestral arrangement, he brought philosophy, sympathy, and an angry knowledge of the cost of the life. This was a sound that simmered — like Al Green's work of the same period, it wasn't the hardest funk, but denying its power would be a fool's errand. Over the years, the slinky, boasting "Pusherman" has become almost as well known as the title single and "Freddie's Dead." In fact, all of Superfly continues to resound mightily in a new century.