James Brown – “Black Caesar (Original Soundtrack)” (1973)

We’ve watched a handful of 1970s blaxploitation films recently, including 1973s Black Caesar. Seeing these films four decades later is a sort of surreal experience, their over-the-topness making them feel quaint and kind of funny, but that strips them of their original context and the place they filled in a segment of society who didn’t see their experiences reflected on the big screen. There’s a casualness to much of the violence and quite often the protagonists aren’t entirely good people, exposing their own faults for everyone to see and making no apologies.

James Brown did the soundtrack to Black Caesar, and frankly it’s brilliant. It’s at its best when it’s at its funkiest, which is no surprise, and tracks like “Down and Out In New York City” and “The Boss” are vinyl gold. The collection of soul and funk I was gifted recently is yielding a lot of great gems and is definitely expanding my mind, both into the roots of hip hop and just the pure beauty of funk itself.