Emily Lordi at The New Yorker:
The meaning of Hayes’s music was similarly complex. But his seizure of musical space—literalized in the LP jacket for “Black Moses,” which unfolded to reveal a full-length portrait of Hayes in a robe, his arms outstretched—made a political statement at a time when black people were being made to feel acutely unwelcome in the public sphere: patrolled by police in their own neighborhoods, maimed and killed for being “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Hayes took up time and space as if it were owed him, and listeners responded. “Hot Buttered Soul,” despite being what the critic Phyl Garland called “probably the strangest record hit of the year,” became the first Stax LP to go gold. It sold a million records to black consumers alone.
How exactly Hayes emerged from poverty and trauma to fashion himself so deeply at home in the world is one of the miracles of soul music. But, if the source of his confidence is mysterious, its destination is clear: Hayes’s audacious claims to space and selfhood are everywhere in hip-hop. Countless tracks, perhaps most notably Wu-Tang Clan’s “I Can’t Go to Sleep,” sample “Walk On By.”