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by vivrant thang on isaac hayes death


My heart is heavy people.

As I’ve traveled through the black blogosphere this weekend, I see that I’m not alone. Check out Afrobella’s beautiful tribute. Harlem nearly brought me to tears with his poetic, moving piece over at Soul Bounce.

I tell you, there is surely a good show going on up there right about now. Isaac and Bernie on one stage. Doesn’t get much better than that.

I regret that I haven’t spent more time with his music or studying up on his legendary career like I have  Luther or Stevie for example.  In my travels, here’s a few things that I found most interesting:

  • Hayes’ work with Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Booker T & the MG’s, the Mar-Keys, theBar-Kays, Rufus & Carla Thomas, and virtually the entire Stax roster created what was known as the “Memphis Sound.” It transformed popular music, was absorbed by everyone from Elvis Presley and Ray Charles to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
  • His album To Be Continued featured the original version of “Ike’s Rap,” a decade before Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”
  • Shaft was the first album in history by a solo black artist to hit #1 on both the Pop and R&B chart (14 weeks, making it the #3 R&B album of the entire decade of the ’70s). At the Academy Awards,  he became the first Black composer to win the Oscar for Best Musical Score. In addition to garnering three Grammy awards, the music from Shaft won a Golden Globe award, the NAACP Image Award, and the prestigious Edison award, Europe’s highest music honor.
  • The album Joy; included “I Love You That’s All,” which became a sampler’s delight for everyone from TLC to Eric B. & Rakim and Big Daddy Kane. In the last decade or so, Hayes’ work has
    gone on to be sampled nearly 200 times on recordings by artists including Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, Biggie,  Tupac, Slick Rick, MC Lyte, Ashanti, Wu-Tang, Pete Rock, Ludacris,  Dr. Dre, SnoopIce Cube, and Destiny’s Child. (update: I am so grateful that Kevin Nottingham has composed an extremely thorough list of artists/songs that sampled his music. Check that out).
  • Hayes has been a coronated King of the Ada coastal district of Ghana in western Africa since 1992 – where he is a member of the Royal Family.

At the time of his death, Isaac had just wrapped a film with the late Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson called “Soul Men.” He will play himself. We need to make that #1 at the box office for several reasons. Period.

I’m a huge fan of Blaxploitation era films so Shaft is one of my favorite movie soundtracks of all time. However, there are a few other songs that I’d like to share that have touched me over the years.

Once when an ex was trying to get back in my good graces, he created a mix that included this song. It almost worked. Isaac’s sensual baritone was very compelling.

It’s All In The Game

Here’s some other “hot buttered soul” from “Black Moses” that I love.

By The Time I Get To Phoenix

Walk On By (live performance; his rendition gives me chills)

Never Can Say Goodbye

Do Your Thing (I can dig it!)

The Look of Love (live performance)

After I heard the news today, I sat in the park listening to the radio tribute – with people calling in to the station all saying the same thing. “Too soon” and “Tomorrow is not promised.”  I’ve lost most of my immediate family, including my Daddy, so I know all too well how fleeting this life can be.

As the second half of this year moves rapidly on by, I am pledging to stay focused on the things that make me happy and continuing to remove the things that are not. I don’t know how much time I have left here but I’m going to make the most of it. I’ve been wasting a lot of time not pursuing what’s truly important to me and that has to change. Isaac had been singing since he was five and stopped when his voice cracked. When he picked up that mic again, he even taught himself several instruments to boot. The rest is history. There’s a lesson there for all of us.

Let’s celebrate Isaac Hayes today for all the beautiful music he gave us and all the harmonies he’s going to create up there with some of the greats that are are no longer with us. Share some of your favorite “hot buttered soul” in the comments.

I hope to come across some musical tributes from some of the black blogosphere’s talented podcasters over the next few days and I’ll be sure to link them here.

Update: Here are the mixes as promised:

  • DJ Parler: Samplology: Isaac Hayes Chapter (features Isaac’s music along with the artists that were inspired by it)