Syl Johnson

Speaking of box sets (see BDP post below), Numero Groupthe Chicago label that works hard at preserving music that may otherwise have been forgotten—is set to release “Complete Mythology,” a mammoth 4 CD/ 6 LP collection of tunes from Sixties soul legend Syl Johnson.

Now if the name doesn’t ring bells like say, genre giants Al Green or Curtis Mayfield, it’s not a negative reflection on the quality of Johnson’s catalog. His brand of gritty R&B is no less accomplished.

Listen to his “I’m Talking Bout Freedom” and you’ll hear some vintage liberation soul.

Beat diggers have known about Johnson for years. Much of his music has been sampled by some of your favorite rappers including Wu-Tang Clan, De La Soul, J Dilla, N.W.A., and the list goes on and on. Listen to “Hollow Bones,” track #3 on Wu-Tang’s third disc, The W, and you’ll hear the sampled moans from Johnson’s “Is It Because I’m Black?”

As he prepares to get a proper reintroduction to new generations with this box set, he’s not shy about sharing his feelings about being slept-on.

“I made my opportunities, but I never got the breaks I should have gotten. I was a jack-of-all-trades. More soul than Marvin, more funk than James. If I’d gone pop, you’d be talkin’ about me, not them. I rate right at the top, though I’ve been underrated all my life.”

And in this interview with Craig Charles on BBC 6 radio in the UK, Johnson just lets loose—talking about the rappers who sampled him and made him rich, Berry Gordy and payola, his family including his daughter R&B star Syleena Johnson and selling fish.

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