9 music videos that bridged the gap between blaxploitation and hip-hop
Rappers have long shown their respect and admiration for the era through song and visuals, dating back to the ’80s.
When film buffs discovered that Superfly, the classic 1972 blaxploitation film starring Ron O’Neal, was getting remade this year, the news created a mix of excitement and skepticism, as many were unsure of whether an updated adaption could live up to the original. Whereas the original Superfly took place in Harlem and revolved around Youngblood Priest, the 2018 version, which casts Trevor Jackson in the role of Preist, is set in Atlanta, but sticks to the script of the OG version, with Priest attempting to leave his life of crime behind and go legitimate.
Directed by Director X, the new Superfly also showcases the relationship blaxploitation films have had with hip-hop, as rap artists Future, who produced the movie and contributed original music to the soundtrack, jumped at the chance to be involved in making the revival a resounding success. However, Superfly and Future’s involvement in the film is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to bridging the gap between blaxploitation and hip-hop, as rap artists have long shown their respect and admiration for the era through song and visuals, dating back to the ’80s.
With Superfly hitting theaters this week and the buzz around the film reaching a crescendo, REVOLT TV takes a look back at nine rap videos that incorporate the culture, look and aesthetic of blaxploitation films and helped to carry on tradition.
1 | Snoop Dogg, “Doggy Dogg World”
During the genesis of his career, Snoop Dogg payed homage to the blaxploitation era in a big way with the music video for “Doggy Dogg World,” the third single from the Cali native’s debut album, Doggystyle. Directed by Dr. Dre and Ricky Harris, the video, which was filmed at the now-defunct Carolina West Nightclub, features cameos from a number of key blaxploitation actors and actresses, including Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Rudy Ray Moore, Antonio Fargas and Ron O’Neal. Clad in vintage ’70s outfits, Snoop and the rest of the Death Row family turn back the hands of time in this classic visual.
2 | Ol’ Dirty Bastard, “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”
As the most colorful member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s visuals were just as zany and off-kilter as his rap verses, particularly the music video for “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” which hit the tube in 1995 during the frenzy created by his solo debut, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version. Sporting an afro, pork-chop sideburns and a tweed suit, Ol’ Dirty Bastard—flanked by his posse, who are also dressed in attire akin to that from the blaxploitation era—holds court in the middle of the dancefloor while getting his shimmy on, one of the lasting images of the late legend from his prime years.
3 | Camp Lo, “Luchini”
In 1997, Bronx natives Camp Lo made waves with their debut album, Uptown Saturday Night, which is considered a cult classic and rap’s introduction to one of the original rap acts of their time. In addition to their penchant for slanguistics, Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede set themselves with their nostalgic sense of style, which was put on full display with the music video to the duo’s hit single “Luchini AKA This Is It,” a sample-driven banger that helped put Camp Lo on the map. Gleaning inspiration from television shows and movies alike from the ’70s, the “Luchini AKA This Is It” music video stays true to the Bronx bombers’ vintage vibe, with shades of the blaxploitation aesthetic woven in, helping make it a generational bridge for rap fans, young and old.
4 | JAY-Z, “Who You Wit”
In between the release of his debut and sophomore albums, JAY-Z appeared on the soundtrack to Sprung, contributing the song “Who You Wit,” which was released in promotion of the film. The music video finds Hov taking on the role of Goldie from The Mack, clad in a fedora and outlandish suit, while Foxy Brown plays Lulu, his feisty seductress. While “Who You Wit” doesn’t go off the deep end with the blaxploitation references, when Jigga shows his admiration, as he did for Max Julien’s signature character, it’s kind of a big deal and reason enough to celebrate.
5 | Hieroglyphics, “It’s Partly Me”
Oakland-based rap crew Hieroglyphics turned the clock back to the era of Superfly and Shaft with the accompanying visual to their 2013 single “It’s Partly Me,” from their third studio album, The Kitchen. Complete with a cinematic interlude, “It’s Partly Me” is an intriguing music video from the Hiero collective and an unsung throwback to the days when blaxploitation dominated the big and small screens.
6 | Ol’ Dirty Bastard, “Baby, I Got Your Money”
Although Ol Dirty Bastard’s appearances in this video consist of images and footage spliced from previously released visuals, “Baby, I Got Your Money” is recognized as a fan-favorite and a beloved clip from the late ’90s. Taking scenes from the classic blaxploitation flick Dolemite, the video’s director alternates between shots of the film and Kelis providing backing vocals while donning an afro, adding to “Baby, I Got Your Money”s vintage appeal.
7 | Busta Rhymes, “Pass The Courvoisier”
When a music video begins with a sample from a Curtis Mayfield song, it’s a safe bet that nostalgia is imminent, as is the case with the accompanying visual to Busta Rhymes’ 2002 visual, “Pass The Courvoisier.” Reenacting one of the classic scenes from the ’80s comedy Harlem Nights, Busta Rhymes and Diddy mimic Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor’s characters in an unforgettable moment from the early augthts, one that proved that nods to the blaxploitation era are far from extinct.
8 | Snoop Dogg, “Lay Low”
Snoop Dogg picked up where he left off on the “Doggy Dogg World” visual with the music video for “Lay Low,” the second single from the Cali icon’s fifth studio album, Tha Last Meal. Directed by Hype Williams and featuring appearances from Master P, Nate Dogg, Butch Cassidy and Tha Eastsidaz, the “Lay Low” video marries a mafioso vibe with black elegance, a calling card of blaxploitation classics like Black Caesar and Hell Up In Harlem.
9 | Sean Price & Buckshot, “Black Dynamite”
In 2009, Duck Down members Sean Price and Buckshot connected on “The Feeling,” a collaboration that was included on the soundtrack to the Adult Swim show Black Dynamite and included plenty of references to the blaxploitation era, particularly Jim Brown and Richard Roundtree. When Black Dynamite started to gain steam in 2012, a music video for “The Feeling” – centered around clips taken from the show’s promotional trailer – was released under the name “Black Dynamite,” accounting for one of the more recent occasions in blaxploitation was implemented in hip-hop on the visual tip.
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