Curtis Mayfield

Pusherman

Composed by Curtis Mayfield

Song Review by

From the seminal soundtrack recording Superfly, "Pusherman" is an apt portrayal of the neighborhood drug dealer, the "ghetto prince" lording over the streets of black urban America. With this song, Mayfield manages to simultaneously celebrate the pusher's semblance of cool while exposing the desperation that fuels his facade. The music is centered on a sleek, descending bass line played with simmering cool, spacing the notes for maximum funk effect, reinforced by a bending conga rhythm. The arrangement remains somewhat sparse, leaving room for Mayfield's silky falsetto as he delivers the opening lines: "I'm your momma/I'm your daddy/I'm that nigga' in the ally/I'm your doctor when you need/Have some coke, have some weed/You know me/I'm your friend/I'm your pusherman." Initially, Mayfield presents the pusher as a devilish Dr. Feelgood, praying on his own and offering escape by dangling enticements, as well as the purveyor of the pimping lifestyle to aspire to: "Ain't I clean/Bad machine/Super cool/Super mean/Feelin' good for the man/Superfly -- here I stand." But in the last chorus, the lyrics seem to turn inward, exposing the motivations and true desperation behind the "Superfly" exterior; the pusher is ultimately crippled by his circumstance and low self-esteem: "A man of odd circumstance/A victim of ghetto demands/Got a woman I love desperately/Want to give her something better than me/Be told I can't be nothin' else/Just a hustler in spite of myself/I know I can't make it/This life just don't make it/Lord, lord." In 1988, gangsta rapper Ice-T released "I'm Your Pusher," a song that heavily sampled Mayfield's "Pusherman," with an often misconstrued anti-drug message, linking Mayfield's pioneering influence to the gangsta rap world and continuing to shed light on inner-city life as it is lived with uncompromising realism.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Super Fly [Original Soundtrack] 1972
No Image 1973
Various Artists
Cobblestone 4:34
Live in Europe 1987 Sequel 6:52
Pimps, Players & Private Eyes 1992
Various Artists
Sire 4:50
Classic Funk Mastercuts, Vol. 1 1992
Various Artists
Mastercuts 4:50
Get Down to the Funky Groove 1994 Charly Records
Mayfield 1994 Alex 5:03
Living Legend 1995 Curtom 5:02
Soul Train 25th Anniversary Hall of Fame Box Set 1995
Various Artists
Interscope / MCA 5:02
Move on Up [Dressed to Kill] 1995 Dressed To Kill 5:04
People Get Ready: The Curtis Mayfield Story 1996 Rhino / Rhino/Warner Bros. 5:03
MVP Vintage Funk, Vol. 1 1996
Various Artists
MVP Records 5:05
The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield [Rhino] 1996 Rhino 5:03
Blaxploitation, Vol. 1 1996
Various Artists
Global TV 5:03
Love, Peace, Understanding 1997 Sequel 5:02
No Image 1998 Curtis/Cargo
Badmuthas: 18 Original Black Movie Hits 1998
Various Artists
MCI 5:00
Masters [Cleopatra] 1998 Cleopatra
The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield [Castle] 1999 Castle Music Ltd. 5:03
Love's Sweet Sensation 1999 Delta Music Ltd.
Soul Spectrum, Vol. 2: Compiled by Keb Darge 1999
Various Artists
Obsessive
Move on Up: The Best of Curtis Mayfield 2000 Castle Music Ltd.
Funk Essentials [Beechwood] 2000
Various Artists
Beechwood Music
Beautiful Brother: The Essential Curtis Mayfield 2000 Metro 5:01
Live at Ronnie Scott's 2001 Castle Music Ltd. 7:31
Mega Groove 2001
Various Artists
Wagram Records 3:03
Soul Legacy 2001 Import / Snapper 5:05
Spirit of Funk 2001
Various Artists
Spirit Of (UK) / Wagram Records 5:01
Baadasss Cinema 2002
Original Soundtrack
TVT 5:03
Mastercuts: Bar Life 2002
Various Artists
Mastercuts 4:41
Twogether Soul 2003
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:03
Superfly Soul 2003
Various Artists
Metro Doubles
Best of Cult Fiction 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 5:01
Superbad 2004
Various Artists
Warner Dance 5:02
Love to the People 2005 Atom 5:00
The Mayfield: Remixed - The Curtis Mayfield Collection 2005 Rhino 5:13
Simply Soul [Union Square] 2005
Various Artists
Union Square Music
Immortal Curtis Mayfield: Superfly Guy 2005 Metro / Metro 5:03
Mastercuts: Breaks [2005] 2005
Various Artists
Mastercuts 5:01
The Definitive Collection [Mastercuts] 2006 Mastercuts 5:00
The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield [Charly #1] 2006 Charly Records
The Definitive Soul Collection 2006 Rhino 5:02
The Story of Curtom 2007
Various Artists
Metro / Metro / Metro Doubles 5:04
This Is Soul [Metro Triples] 2008
Various Artists
Union Square Music 5:02
Funk: Intro Collection 2009
Various Artists
Intro / Union Square Music
100% Blaxploitation 2009
Various Artists
100 Percent / 100% / Union Square Music
100% Soul 2009
Various Artists
100 Percent / 100% / Union Square Music
The Best of Soul Train 2010
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Pusherman 2011 Metro Select
Flashback with Curtis Mayfield 2011 Rhino / Rhino Flashback 5:03
3/60: Legends of Soul 2012
Various Artists
Crimson
Original Album Series 2012 Rhino 5:05
70's the Collection
Various Artists
Rhino 5:06
No Image
Various Artists
Disky
No Image
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Lakeshore Records 5:01
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