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Soul - Released January 1, 1990 | CAPITOL CATALOG MKT (C92)

No less than 18 years passed between the release of Curtis Mayfield's original Superfly soundtrack in 1972 and the release of The Return of Superfly: Original Soundtrack in 1990. To say that the African-American musical landscape had changed considerably during those 18 years would be a major understatement. Urban contemporary, not soul, had become R&B's dominant direction, and rap had become the music of choice for young Blacks. So this CD emphasized rap, but it also acknowledged 1970s Black culture by offering five new tunes by Mayfield, one of the era's icons. The new Mayfield material, which includes "Superfly 1990" (a duet with Ice-T) and "Showdown," isn't in a class with "Pusherman" and other gems he recorded in the 1970s, but they demonstrated that the singer could still be enjoyable. Meanwhile, all of the rap selections are by West Coast MCs, and they range from the late Eazy-E's "Eazy Street" (a menacing gangsta rap ditty) and the underrated Def Jef's "On the Real Tip" to Tone Loc's cult song "Cheeba Cheeba" (which took its share of criticism for promoting marijuana use). Also noteworthy is the Uzi Bros.' "There's a Riot Jumpin' Off," a commentary on the American prison system. To be sure, this collection falls short of the excellence of the original Superfly soundtrack of 1972, but most of the material is decent, if less than essential. © Alex Henderson /TiVo