Wax Poetics Issue 38
It’s been a long time coming. In fact, for the past eight years and thirty-seven issues, we’ve wanted to do a Curtis Mayfield cover. It finally worked out for our unofficial Film/Hustler Issue, in which we take a look at Mayfield’s epic soundtrack recording Super Fly. New York writer Michael A. Gonzales pulls from his own 1996 Curtis Mayfield interview as well as tapping Curtis associates, guitarists Craig McMullen and Phil Upchurch and composer/arranger Johnny Pate, to tell the story of the finest blaxploitation score of the 1970s.
Once again, we’ve created a split cover–with Curtis on front both times and the back shared by two classic films: Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (Radio Raheem in full effect) and Ralph Bakshi’s Coonskin (a Wax Poetics favorite). Besides speaking with both of these groundbreaking filmmakers, we also take a look at the new film Black Dynamite (Wax Poetics Records released the score and soundtrack), and music supervisor David Hollander reveals the fundamental facts of once-mysterious library music.
Last but not least, we finally unveil the Robert Beck aka Iceberg Slim story by longtime contributer Mark McCord (aka Mark Skillz). As the greatest hustler of all time, Beck finally gets his due.
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- Curtis Mayfield
“I don’t see why people are complaining about the subject of these films,” Curtis told Jet magazine in October 1972 in a statement that foreshadows the words of modern-day rappers. “The way you clean up the films is by cleaning up the streets. The music and movies of today are the conditions that exist.”
- Spike Lee
What gets me mad about Bamboozled is that the New York Times refused to run the ad with Tommy Davidson and Savion Glover in blackface. The whole thing about the film was to show that there is a history behind this imagery.
- Ralph Bakshi
When I was doing Mighty Mouse and The Mighty Heroes, I didn’t like what I was doing. That wasn’t the raw edge of life I grew up with. Bob Dylan was singing, the freedom marches were happening, Miles Davis was blowin’, and the stuff Coltrane was doing was brand new. So doing this stupid, old bullshit wasn’t good enough.
- Re:Discovery Melvin Van Peebles, Manfred Krug, Marvin Gaye, Judgment Night OST, John Carpenter
- Roc Raida The Grand Master
- Shadows and Phonographs This sinister role of the turntable in Hollywood classics
- Brotherman Blaxploitation soundtrack for a film that wasn't meant to be
- Adrian Younge Black Dynamite composer refuses to cut corners with his authentic old soul
- Gangs On Film The South Bronx of 1979 documented in 80 Blocks from Tiffany's
- Night Life Photographer Michael Abramson captured the magic of 1970s South Side Chicago
- The Rhythm of Film DJ/producer David Holmes approaches soundtrack composition with a less-is-more philosophy
- Mood Music European libraries created soulful instrumentals for '70s film and television
- The Next Hustle Ex-pimp Robert Beck transformed into writer Iceberg Slim, introducing a new genre for literature, film and music
- Comic Truth Animation and indie film pioneer Ralph Bakshi drew attention to race and culture
- Gangster Boogie Curtis Mayfield injected his own cultural commentary into the Super Fly legacy
- The Provocateur Director Spike Lee continues to tell personal stories by any means necessary
- Playing It Straight Black Dynamite director Scott Sanders crafts high-caliber blaxploitation homage
- Analog Out Cybernetics, Louis and Bebe Barron, and the sonic life-forms of Forbidden Planet