Episode 72: Lyrics Born on Curtis Mayfield’s “Back to the World” (1973)

Episode 72

7th February 2019

Bay Area rapper/actor Lyrics Born joins us to talk about Curtis Mayfield’s cinematic “Back to the World” (1973)

Episode notes

The Album: Curtis Mayfield’s Back to the World (1973) In 1973, Curtis Mayfield had already become one of the biggest soul stars in the world thanks to the success of his Superfly soundtrack. He could have doubled-down with another album of lurid and cautionary street tales but instead, he wrote an album that many think of as a soundtrack to a movie never made, chronicling a returning Vietnam War veteran who finds America to be a different kind of war zone. Back to the World showcased Mayfield at his best — as a musician, composer, arranger, singer, producer, guitarist and songwriter — and decades later, we can still hear some of its influence reverberating in the dozens of artists who sampled from this album’s lush music.
The Bay Area’s Lyrics Born brought this album to us to talk about. As part of the Solesides/Quannum crew that dates back to the mid-90s, LB has represented a much admired indie hip-hop ethos and he’s been embraced by fans around the world. In our conversation, we talked about Mayfield’s commitment to social issues, his gifts as a songwriter and whether or not “Right On For the Darkness” is, in fact, about a blind person.
More on Lyrics Born

More on Back to the World

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Back to the World unless indicated otherwise):

  • Back to the World
  • Future Shock
  • Mac Mill: Straight Dangler
  • The Impressions: Keep On Pushing
  • Curtis Mayfield: Eddie You Should Know Better
  • The Impressions: I’ve Been Trying
  • Back to the World
  • Keep on Trippin’
  • Right On For The Darkness
  • Wiz Khalifa: Glass House
  • Right On For The Darkness
  • Gang Starr: Take A Rest
  • Mase: What You Want
  • Filthy Phil: The Payback
  • Willie Wright: Right On For The Darkness
  • Future Shock
  • Can’t Say Nothin’
  • If I Were A Child Again
  • Curtis Mayfield: So In Love
  • Cissy Houston: Warning-Danger
  • Aretha Franklin: Something He Can Feel

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there
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In this episode...


  • Lyrics Born

About the show

Hosted by Oliver Wang and Morgan Rhodes, every episode of Heat Rocks invites a special guest to talk about a heat rock – a hot album, a scorching record. These are in-depth conversations about the albums that shape our lives.

Our guests include musicians, writers, and scholars and though we don’t exclusively focus on any one genre, expect to hear about albums from the worlds of soul, hip-hop, funk, jazz, Latin, and more.

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