Various Artists

Harlem Shuffle: The Sound of Blaxploitation

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This above-average collection showcases deep grooves from classic blaxploitation flicks circa 1969-1977. During its heyday, the blaxploitation film provided an outlet for adventurous composers in the funk and soul genres. For mainstream audiences, Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield exemplified this spirit of remarkable creativity, elevating the musical moods of textures of the inner city into mass popular consciousness. It is therefore fitting that Harlem Shuffle: The Sound of Blaxploitation kicks off with cuts from both artists and features several more cuts from their soundtrack work. The anthology goes on to prove there was a lot more to the genre than "Shaft" and "Superfly," both of which are conspicuously absent. Highlights include the Bar-Kays' gritty funk workout "Son of Shaft," the wah-wah-inflected acid jazz of "Harlem Clavinet" from the classic soundtrack Across 110th Street, and Melvin Van Peebles' demented chase rap, "C'mon Feet," layered over frantic accompanying music by Earth, Wind & Fire from the cult film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. Purists might lament the exclusion of tracks from seminal films like Coffy and Black Caesar. Nevertheless, Harlem Shuffle: The Sound of Blaxploitation provides a steady workout of funky stone-cold grooves.

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