Syl Johnson, an unsung hero of soul music should have been a household name along with the likes of James Brown, Al Green, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett etc. He definitely had a long and successful career, but for some reason Syl never quite reached the heights of popularity that his talent deserved.
At one point in the mid 80s, Syl more or less retired from music… until in 1992 he discovered his music was being sampled for massively popular hip hop songs. This re-energized his musical side and catalyzed a return to the industry with new records as well as lawsuits against hip hop artists for usage of unlicensed samples. Through the money he gained from hip hop, he has even gone to call his home “the house that Wu-Tang built”. Honestly, hip hop and Syl Johnson go hand in hand, Syl’s sound can be heard within the grooves of records by not only the Wu, but Eric B & Rakim, De La Soul, Pete Rock & CL, and so many others. In fact, “Different Strokes” is one of the most sampled songs in history.
A new documentary is being made by Rob Hatch-Miller and Puloma Basu to document the force of nature that is Syl Johnson. For any fan of soul music (and indeed hip hop), Syl Johnson is untouchable, a legend in his own right with indomitable vitality and passion. You can check out the Kickstarter campaign below and support a really awesome project that shines a light on a human vessel that embodies the very spirit of soul music.