Syl Johnson – Is It Because I’m Black ('22 RE, grey/black swirl vinyl)

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en years into his role as poster boy for pop soul and peak-hour R&B, Syl Johnson did an unlikely about-face and cut the most inspiring and powerful song he’d ever touch. “I didn’t want to write no song about hating this people or hating that people,” Johnson said. “I really didn’t have no vendetta against people. It’s a sympathy song.” Issued on 45 in September of 1969, “Is It Because I’m Black” struck an immediate chord within the black community, forcing the song up the charts by sheer volume of call-in requests. It would be Syl’s biggest hit for Twinight, climbing as high as #11 on the Billboard R&B chart during its 14-week stay, marking the defining moment of what had become more than just an occupation. Syl had his hands on a career.

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