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Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Nature of Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes did not live in Robertson, but his memory certainly does (in my head). And as death is certainly part of Nature, I am going to post my own personal Obituary to Isaac Hayes.

If you are under 30 - think of Chef from South Park. I am here to tell you that Chef from South Park School has gone to the great kitchen in the sky! Everyone else - think of the highly original musician behind the Theme from "Shaft!" He is credited with introducing "orchestration" into Soul Music.

Read this report and weep - but weep with fond memories!
"In the 1999 interview, Hayes described the South Park cook as "a person that speaks his mind; he's sensitive enough to care for children; he's wise enough to not be put into the 'whack' category like everybody else in town - and he l-o-o-o-o-ves the ladies".
But if you read the full details of this article, you will realise (if you didn't know already) - he worked bloody hard to establish his own style (when it was totally unfashionable).
  • He was "rapping" before the kids invented the word.
  • He wore more Bling than Mr T ever did, before Mr T was ever heard of.
  • He shined shoes (that archetypical "black man's job") back in the early 60s on Beale Street, Nashville - (what else, and where else for an out-of-work musician?)
  • Just watch American Basketball and you will see his legacy in the form of the Shaved Head look (especially for African American men). That is not a trivial contribution - for at the time, it was a revolutionary, and politically rebellious look. The fact that it has now become fashionable does not reduce the power of the image, in historical terms.
Photo: Isaac in chains - Joel Brodsky
Source: Stax Museum of American Soul Music

He quit South Park in a fuss over them supposedly mocking Scientology - and then the writers killed off Chef - but who cares? The guy lived the dream, wrote and sang the theme from Shaft which is the cooooolest music ever written for popular cinema. He almost single-handedly made being Black fashionable. And he was shameless about "loving the ladies".

Nobody is perfect. Love him or hate him, you have to admit he at least did it with a certain style and panache. In the many different incarnations of Isaac Hayes's career he created many great memories. Some might have turned sour - but that is part of the Nature of Isaac Hayes.

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