Riff: Curtis Mayfield – “Move on Up”

Dec 7, 2017

Take nothing less/Than the supreme best/Do not obey rumors people say/That you can’t pass the test

from Move On Up lyrics by Curtis Mayfield

Arguably Mayfield’s greatest song — a spirited scripture that preaches the importance of progressive thought. It was a hit when it was first released, forgotten for a time and then appreciated again thanks to some savvy sampling by Just Blaze. As soon as the horns blare in it’s clear that Mayfield is about to say something of the utmost importance. He knows how hard it is for a young child to grow up in a world full of hate, but as Curtis is known to do he injects the situation with unbridled optimism. For him a positive state of mind is essential, and believing in yourself is the start. It’s also notable that he mentions the naysayers, which is a sign that he’s been through the muck and mire many times before. It’s a joyous song full of love and benevolence, a timeless jam that assures the young ones that everything will be okay. Just keep trying.


Riff by Jeff Min

Jeff Min is a Chicago-based writer at SONGLYRICS. His work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, Hi-Fructose, Wax Poetics, SLAM, and HOOP.

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