500 Greatest Albums of All Time

Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Curtis Mayfield, 'Superfly'

72. Curtis Mayfield, 'Superfly'

Curtom, 1972

Isaac Hayes' Shaft came first – but that rec­ord had one great single and a lot of instrumental filler. It was Curtis Mayfield who made a blaxploitation-soundtrack album that packed more drama than the movie it accompanied. Musically, Superfly is astonishing, marrying lush string parts to deep bass grooves, with lots of wah-wah guitar. On top, Mayfield sings in his worldly-wise falsetto, narrating the bleak ghetto tales of "Pusherman" and "Freddie's Dead," telling hard truths about the drug trade and black life in the 1970s; it was Marvin Gaye's What's Going On at street level. "I don't take credit for everything I write," Mayfield said. "I only look upon my writings as interpretations of how the majority of people around me feel."

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