If my parents found it odd that I preferred the company of Isaac Hayes to that of G.I. Joe, they never let on. Whenever I needed a buddy with whom to inhabit my blanket-and-bar-stool forts, I always chose the gatefold LP of Black Moses. The album unfolded into a giant crucifix featuring a photograph of a berobed Hayes. His Messiah complex was lost on me at the time; I just liked that he was roughly the same size I was. I wouldn’t really play with Moses so much as prop him up in the corner like some mystical standee. Perhaps it is this early experience with the hot buttered Scientologist that compels me to defend his career. Admittedly, Hayes often falls on the wrong side of the cool/kitsch divide, but he deserves a lot of credit for crafting the signature Stax soul sound. And with his ’70s films and soundtracks, he is arguably the single most influential figure in the entire blaxploitation genre. Sure, albums such as Juicy Fruit and Royal Rappins are best left off of the official discography, and he may have compromised his integrity when he lent his voice to a recurring character on a certain animated show that will remain nameless. Let’s instead remember that he gave strings to soul, gold chains to hiphop, and some old-school credibility to Hustle & Flow. At the very least, when he performs this time around, he should be more animated than when we were roommates in the blanket fort. Hayes plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $65. (202) 397-7328. (David Dunlap Jr.)