If you don’t know by now who the “black private dick, who’s a sex machine to all the chicks” is, well, you cannot dig it, friend. Today marks the 41st anniversary of Isaac Hayes Best Original Song oscar nod for the wah-wah, funk-splayed Stax panty-dropper theme for the “Blaxpoitation” gem Shaft.
It was a fine day for african-americans, as Hayes became the first black man to win the award, yes. And the song did fulfill its purpose in introducing audiences of the film to its lead character, John Shaft, quite well. But this track has become much, much more than a mere film accompaniment.
Fearlessly campy, the high-hat strut crowned an era of sexual revolution and bad-assery without succumbing to raunch or misogyny, topping Billboard charts for weeks, that still holds up today. When in history has there been disrespect for a dude who doesn’t “cop out when there’s danger all about,” “risk his neck for his brother man” and most important of all, treats his woman right? Shaft, like all smooth honorable dudes with power:
He’s a complicated man
But no one understands him but his woman