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Superfly by Curtis Mayfield

Album: Super Fly SoundtrackReleased: 1972Charted:
8
  • This was originally an instrumental passage used in the 1972 movie Super Fly, but it ended up having a huge role in the film. It plays at the end of the movie after the drug-dealing lead character Priest takes a stand against the white deputy commissioner, telling him, "You don't own me pig!"

    "It was a glorious moment for our people as blacks," Mayfield told Q magazine. "Priest had a mind, he wanted to get out. For once, in spite of what he was doing, he got away. So there came 'Superfly' the song. He was trying to get over. We couldn't be so proud of him dealing coke or using coke, but at least the man had a mind and he wasn't just some ugly dead something in the streets after it was all over. He got out."
  • Mayfield, as a member of The Impressions, was a huge part of the '60s Civil Rights movement thanks to songs like "People Get Ready" and "This Is My Country." In the Super Fly film, he saw an opportunity to examine city life, and how drug culture affects African Americans. After seeing the screenplay, he jumped into the project and was given complete creative freedom. He wrote the songs to suit the scenes, but he made sure they could stand on their own, telling the stories even without the visuals. "Superfly" works very well outside of the film, as the character Mayfield describes could relate to anyone trying to survive and thrive under difficult circumstances.
  • Mayfield was working on the songs for the movie while it was shooting, and would often visit the set, bringing in demos so the cast and crew could hear how they would integrate into the film. He even appears in the movie, performing the song "Pusherman" in a bar scene.
  • This song popularized the word "fly," which means unusual and exceptional, particularly when it comes to fashion. "Super Fly" is thus even better, and very high praise. In the film, the main character Priest wears some super fly clothes and also supplies drugs that give that feeling.

    "Fly" was especially big in the late '80s and early '90s: Will Smith asked about the "fly honies" on his show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air; the TV show Living Color had a dance troupe called "The Fly Girls" (Jennifer Lopez was one of them); and Tone-Loc asked the question, "Why you so fly?" in "Funky Cold Medina."
  • Super Fly was part of a movie genre known as "Blaxploitation." When white people started leaving urban areas in the US for the suburbs, movie studios realized there was a large black audience near theaters, and began making films catering to them. Movies like Shaft and Foxy Brown were the result. Mayfield did the music for the 1988 film I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, which is a send-up of the genre.
  • Unless Sidney Poitier was in the film, there was little chance of seeing a nuanced black character in a movie around this time. Super Fly's lead character appealed to Mayfield because he had a vivid backstory and was not just a stock drug dealer. In the song, Mayfield examines how he's really doing what we all are: trying to get over.
  • Mitsubishi used this in commercials for its 2000 Montero Sport.
  • Nelly sampled this on his 2004 song "Tilt Your Head Back." (thanks, Donovan Berry - El Dorado, AR)
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Comments: 8

Jun 2015,

Not to mention Charles, the movie was about the Main Character (Preist) trying to "Get Out" the Game. Folks just miss that point and/or forget that was a significant part of the character/movie because of how (SUPER) Fly he looked and played the role.

The entire soundtrack was really about the consequences of being in "The Game"; which is also lost on many people.
Markantney - Biloxe
On February 2nd 1973, the musical weekly series 'The Midnight Special' debuted on the NBC-TV network; the show ran for 8.5 years with a grand total of 350 episodes...
Curtis Mayfield performed "Superfly" on the premiere show; at the time it was at #17 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; twenty-six days earlier on January 7th, 1973 it peaked at #8 for two weeks...
{See next post below}.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On January 7th 1973, "Superfly" by Curtis Mayfield peaked at #8 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on November 12th and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
It reached #5 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart and #52 in the United Kingdom...
Was nominated for a 1973 Grammy Award for 'Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or TV Special' (winner was Nino Rota for 'The Godfather')...
It was the 2nd single from the 'Superfly' soundtrack album to make the Top 10, "Freddie's Dead", peaked at #2 on the R&B Singles chart and #4 on the Top 100 chart...
And for the 'Superfly' soundtrack album; on Oct. 8th, 1972 peaked at #1 (for 6 weeks) on the R&B Albums chart and a week later on Oct. 15th also reached #1 (for 4 weeks) on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
R.I.P. Mr. Mayfield (1942 - 1999). He left us way too soon.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Even though the film glorifies the gangster lifestyle, Mayfield's lyrics make it clear he does not condone the character's lifestyle. Mayfield owned hiw own record company and believed in 'makin' it' the old-fashioned way thru work.Charles - Charlotte, Nc
This is a brilliant soundtrack. Just inspired music! One of the best soundtracks EVER! It holds up against the test of time so well. I was happy to see my young nephew with the album recently. He was blown away that his 50-year old uncle from the suburbs could relate to its drug-dealing theme. Hey, I used to be young and live in the city.Guy - Woodinville, Wa
As cool as this record is, Mayfield's performance in the MOVIE "Superfly" is even cooler. He did something that black artists of the day rarely did--he strapped on a guitar and performed with other real musicians. He avoided the goofy coordinated dance-step stuff by guys in purple polyester matching suits that was typical of the era. It was just Curtis and the band with their amps on low playing in a smoky nightclub, and it is worth the price of the video rental just to see that.Dirk - Nashville, Tn
Superfly was definitely an excellent soundtrack. My favorite song on the album has got to be "No Thing on Me (The Cocaine Song)." Like Curtis says, it sure is funky. Snoop Dogg covers the song with Bootsy Collins on his album Rhythm & Gangsta; check that one out. Watch the Superfly movie, too. Good movie with unfortunately hilariously awful overdubs.Sammy - New York, Ny
Platinum-selling "Superfly" was recorded in 1972. Other standouts from the movie were "Pusherman" and "Freddie's Dead."Paul - Chicago, Il
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