With the soul and R&B band Impressions, Curtis Mayfield had already scored several chart hits, but the greatest success of his career as a solo artist came in 1972 with the soundtrack "Superfly". Mayfield contrasted the Blaxploitation film about a cocaine dealer willing to quit with texts in which he critically commented on the reality of life in urban ghettos. His music is a journey through urban neighbourhoods, ways of thinking and living, which functions both as a description of the status quo and as an emotionally charged wake-up call. The Chicago-born singer makes use of a falsetto for long stretches, underlining the contradictory feelings of sympathy, anger, sadness, sensuality, hardness, despair and fear of the protagonists. In this way Mayfield conveys unpleasant truths and critical perspectives without preaching or taking sides.
Musically "Superfly" convinces all along the line with rich grooves and funky riffs. The singles "Freddie's Dead" and "Superfly" sold over two million copies, the album stayed at number 1 in the charts for four weeks and was nominated for four Grammys.