“Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” by McFadden & Whitehead (1979)

“Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” was the perfect song to end a decade in which the thought of upward mobility gave promise to an entire generation of Blacks. Topping the R&B charts as spring gave way to summer 1979, that and Chic’s “Good Times” pointed the way towards a glittering new decade (although folks listening to the lyrics of “Good Times” might have been able to realize that ill winds were a-comin’).

This essential jam came to us via Philadelphia International staffers Gene McFadden and John Whitehead, who wrote classics like “Back Stabbers” and “I’ll Always Love My Mama”, for The O’Jays and The Intruders, respectively, “Stoppin’” brought the duo into prominence as artists in addition to as writers/producers.

Philly soul is often considered the precursor or the jumping off point for what eventually became disco, and “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” is the perfect synthesis of the two kissin’ cousins.  The smoothness associated with Philly soul is represented in the song’s positive message, not to mention those luxurious strings. Although “Stoppin’” was half a step slower than most popular disco hits, it still was perfectly capable of getting asses to move. Hell, throw that song on 38 years later and try not to cut a rug.  a foot in each of the closely related sub genres.

Despite the duo’s impressive behind-the-scene pedigree, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” wound up being their only hit. It was also Philadelphia International’s last song to be certified Gold or make the top 20 pop, although the label would have R&B smashes through the end of the ‘80s with Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle and Phyllis Hyman. The song signified not only the end of a decade, but unintentionally signaled the end of an era. It’s legacy has lived and continues to live on, though.The unstoppable bassline has provided sample fodder for artists ranging from Big Daddy Kane to Biz Markie, while the original song remains a rallying cry for sports teams to this day. Wikipedia mentions that the Iverson-era  Sixers used “Stoppin’” as a rallying cry, although my favorite sports-related memory of this hit comes from hearing it used as the Detroit Tigers slugged their way to a World Series Championship in 1984. When it comes to soulful cities, game recognizes game.

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