Move On Up
Curtis Mayfield (1970)
As the agile falsetto who fronted Chicago soul group The Impressions, Curtis Mayfield had touched on social issues prior to his 1970 solo debut, Curtis. But Move On Up, a near nineminute epic driven by fevered funk percussion and a majestic, uplifting horn riff was intended to mark the beginning of a new era – both for Mayfield and his young, raciallymixed audience. Where many protest songs from the era focus on the negative, Mayfield’s message was unashamedly uplifting, its lyrics directed straight to a post-Civil Rights generation eager to believe they held their destiny in their own hands: “Remember your dream is your only scheme, so keep on pushin’…” As an ode to social mobility and the power of faith, the song has remained an inspirational touchstone ever since, sampled by Kanye West (for Touch The Sky) and aired regularly at rallies during Barack Obama’s first election campaign.