Isaac Hayes wanted desperately to play John Shaft in Gordon Parks' landmark 1971 actioner Shaft. But Parks went another way. Instead he tapped Hayes to write the songs and score for Shaft, and for that effort, Hayes became one of the first black artists to ever win the coveted Academy Award, for his blazing title song (which went on to also win a Golden Globe and four Grammies).
It would be a few years before the undeniably charismatic Hayes would get his chance to fill the big screen. When the opportunity came, it came large. In Jonathan Kaplan's boisterous 1974 picture Truck Turner, Hayes becomes the shit-kicking, mama-lovin' detective that Richard Roundtree's Shaft could only hope to be. Hayes turned out to be a bigger movie star than Roundtree, rounding out his career in the late 90s as the unmistakable voice behind South Park's Chef.
That aside, Truck Turner stands as the best of all the blaxploitation movies (barring maybe Pam Grier in Coffy and the searing Across 110th Street). It's a tough, funny, skanky take on small-time crime, and, as such, the film sports a song that might overtake the "Theme to Shaft" in pure, chocolate, salty balls. With a wakka-wakka guitar line that zooms and rips at the gut, and a horn section that weathers that wound, Isaac Hayes' theme song to Truck Turner definitely wins the award for the song you'd most want to accompany you in a bar fight. It's pure freakin' genius.
There's some dudes in a bar
With busted heads and broken jaws
What hit 'em?
There's some men in their graves
Who blew those pimps away?
There's a girl that's so fine
With stars in her eyes
Who's in love and who loves her?